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A Dowry of Blood

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Horror (2021)
A lyrical and dreamy reimagining of Dracula’s brides, A Dowry of Blood is a story of desire, obsession, and emancipation.

Saved from the brink of death by a mysterious stranger, Constanta is transformed from a medieval peasant into a bride fit for an undying king. But when Dracula draws a cunning aristocrat and a starving artist into his web of passion and deceit, Constanta realizes that her beloved is capable of terrible things. Finding comfort in the arms of her rival consorts, she begins to unravel their husband’s dark secrets.

With the lives of everyone she loves on the line, Constanta will have to choose between her own freedom and her love for her husband. But bonds forged by blood can only be broken by death.

248 pages, Paperback

First published January 31, 2021

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About the author

S.T. Gibson

9 books1,718 followers
S.T. Gibson is a poet, author, and village wise woman in training.

She holds a Bachelors degree in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, and a Masters of Theological Studies from Princeton Theological Seminary.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 8,131 reviews
Profile Image for chai ♡.
321 reviews156k followers
February 7, 2021
I hear “queer reimagining of Dracula’s brides, ft. sapphic yearning at the opera and tangled polyamorous relationships” and my serotonin levels immediately skyrocket.
Profile Image for Ayman.
212 reviews85k followers
September 25, 2023
the only brides of dracula retelling that exists ✔️
real literature is back people 🤍
Profile Image for Robin.
327 reviews1,825 followers
July 15, 2022
↠ 5 stars

I heard "sapphic yearning at the opera” and smashed that want to read button. An exquisite reimagining of Dracula's Brides in the form of an open letter from his first bride Constanta; A Dowry of Blood is an achingly haunting and beautiful novel that spans centuries in the life of its narrator. Saved from death and transformed into a bride, Constanta is drawn into the web of her savior, blurring the line between love and devotion. With the addition of an aristocrat and an artist into their ranks, Constanta begins to realize the evil her husband is truly capable of, unearthing his dark secrets and bringing them to light.

A Dowry of Blood is the queer reimagining that I never knew I needed, but will not shut up about for months to come. An incredibly personal look into a dark and classic tale that doesn't hold back from the get go. This is a story that is just as breathtaking as it is heart wrenchingly beautiful, and the use of language throughout epitomizes that perfectly. I mean I basically highlighted the entire first chapter, the writing was just *chefs kiss. Truly a testament to how poetic I found the prose. While the use of a narrative form is one I have never read firsthand, given the nature of the entire novel being an open letter to Dracula from Constanta it made it much more personal. The emotions and reactions by Constanta are raw and all the more powerful as a result. What really stole my attention early on, was the ever changing relationship between Constanta and her rival consorts Alexei and Magdalena. The jealousy and hatred between the three of them, which quickly transforms into love and a sense of family, was my favorite part of the novel. What I wouldn't give to read a story from either of their perspectives following the events of this book. I need it. Badly. There truly is nothing I love more than a well-executed retelling, and this achieved that and so much more. S.T Gibson devises a story so evocative, chronicling the quiet descent from love into violence over many years. An empowering look at the many different forms that love can take and how it can transform over time.

Thank you to the author and Nyx Publishing for the arc in exchange for an honest review

Trigger warnings: alcohol consumption, violence, murder, depression, mania, self harm, blood, gore, gaslighting, intimate partner violence (emotional, verbal, physical), sadomasochism, drug use (mentioned), sexual assault (mentioned)
Profile Image for Carina.
17 reviews18 followers
May 18, 2021
It seems like no one else is saying it, so I will say it: the prose in this book is terrible.

Writing that is purely aesthetic and distances your reader from everything that is happening in your story is bad writing, period. I love me some pretty prose—when it has actual meaning and isn't a surface level attempt to sound poetic and literary. It's just bad, y'all, like please keep the superfluous metaphors. It's at best irritating and really just embarrassing. In the words of the amazing Ocean Vuong: metaphors should amplify meaning—and when they are there merely to sound cool, well. You get exactly what this is.

And what happens in this book? I honestly couldn't tell you. A Dowry of Blood consists of Gibson summarizing what happens, wrapping it in extraneous language, and telling you what it all means before you can come to your own conclusions. I was unable to connect to the characters or feel grounded in the plot. There was nothing for me to think or feel. It is extremely self-impressed and lacks depth.

I also don't feel that I got anything I was promised. I was told this was a vampire story, but them being vampires doesn't really effect anything. I was told this was a Dracula retelling, from the perspective of one of his brides, and yet any elements of the original are nowhere to be found. Including Dracula himself. They could have been anyone or anything and it wouldn't have made a difference.

And, SPOILERS AHEAD, I honest to God cannot take any vampire book seriously that positions this as its climax:

You slapped him.


That slap snapped me out of a reverie I had been living in for hundreds of years. It obliterated any grace I had left to give you, any lies I was still telling myself about your good intentions and your savior's heart.

They're vampires, y'all. They kill people, drain them of their blood, and a slap is what makes this all fall apart. I'm actually howling. I recommend this only if you want to read a book-length Tumblr 2012 fake deep post.
Profile Image for Zainab Qadeer (Semi - Hiatus).
43 reviews345 followers
July 17, 2023
“You did not let me keep my name, so I will strip you of yours. In this world, you are what I say you are, and I say you are a ghost, a long night’s fever dream that I have finally woken up from”

This review is definitely going to be controversial I’m sorry I didn’t love it so dont hate me for it i have my reasons 😭😭😭

“If you can still hear me wherever you are, my love, my tormentor, hear this:
It was never my intention to murder you. Not in the beginning, anyway.”

The story starts off with Constanta apologising to her lover for murdering him which I must add had me intrigued. It then moves on to how she was lying there in blood vulnerable cold and barely breathing until he found her and gave her a new life. By Siring her and taking her as his wife they both travelled and had fun until they grew bored and then they were met with Magdalena a beautiful rich independent women who was full of life. He promised her a life that was Endless and due to her nature she took it and they both became Dracula’s wife’s. The cycle continued whilst the 3 were all infatuated with another they eventually grew bored and they met with Alexi a young painter Dracula promised him riches and a life worth living for an offer which Alexi could not deny . So they all got together until one day they realised he was controlling manipulative and possessive and that’s when they decided to end it all. That’s it that’s the book

“Put the stake down, Constanta,” you ordered. Harsh, curt. The way you would speak to a dog. “Listen to me. Don’t make me angry.” Erm my guy needs to sit back down 😂💀

I can’t lie I’m disappointed there wasn’t really a plot he turned her into a vampire they had their fun until they grew bored they meet a girl turn her into a vamp they all have fun until they got bored for them to meet a boy they have fun and get bored Do you see the cycle ??? Once they realise he’s controlling they kill him that’s it there was no anticipation no climax even the part where they killed him was just meh 🫤

I was weirded out from the start Constanta’s parents had literally been murdered and she goes and sleeps with Dracula like hello … well I guess that’s her way of grieving 😂😂😂

“I will never lift a hand against you, Constanta,” you said quietly. “Never in anger, or in lust.” I can see what she saw in him because I would have folded 🥵💀

Dracula was a major red flag the way he controlled everything and just knew how to manipulate each one of his lovers based on their personality was impressive like god he’d been doing it for centuries. At the start he even had me thinking that he’s swoon worthy only to be a deranged control freak 😂😂😂💀

“And you can go. Take your sister and give me some peace. ”

“ We reveled in our love of you, of Magdalena, but the affection between us was more mother and son than lovers.”
ewww what in the incest but it’s not incest 💀


“Your memory will fade to shadow and I shall never speak your name again”

The one thing I’ll say is the descriptions and the writing style was BEAUTIFUL but that wasn’t enough I get that this was Constanta’s story but it wasn’t something where I was dying to turn over the page it was just long descriptions which like I said were perfectly written like where’s the horror the plot all it was is everyone screwing each other and Dracula being possessive and manipulative

“Every kindness you had ever shown me revolted inside me, rioting up in mutiny against my purpose. Every smile or small gesture was as sharp as a pinprick, inviting me to see the bright spots embroidered through the ugly tapestry of our marriage.

But a few flourishes and embellishments couldn’t change the fact that the very fabric of our life together was tangled and suffocating. I had given you a thousand second chances, made a thousand concessions. And this wasn’t just about me anymore. It was about Magdalena, and Alexi”

I loved that near the end Constanta wasn’t manipulated by Dracula the hate she had and the way she saw past his begging made my eyes swell up with tears of joy because remember she’s spent centuries with this man who had initially saved her from dying and in his weird and twisted way he did love her so pushing all of them feeling aside and to kill him must have taken everything especially when he’s begging her and telling her that he loved her and will forgive her for trying to kill him so I’m proud of her 🥰

Last but not least I’m soo happy that I read this with my gorgeous baby giuliana as we vented our anger disappointment and love for this book😂 here’s to reading many more books with you 😘❤️

Now remember everyone this is NOT a love story 💕
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,304 reviews27.9k followers
December 3, 2021
4.5 stars
Okay shit I didn’t expect to love this book as much as I did. I’m usually not the biggest fan of reading about vampires, but this is legit one of the most gorgeously written books I’ve ever read. I had to stop and reread certain lines again because I thought they were so beautifully written.

“I wanted to dash myself against your rocks like a wave, to obliterate my old self and see what rose shining and new from the sea foam. The only words I had to describe you in those early days were plunging cliffside or primordial sea, crystal-cold stars or black expanse of sky. I dove down deep into your psyche, turning over every word you gave me like a jewel. Looking for meaning, seeking out the mysteries of you. I didn’t care if I lost myself in the process.”

I am usually hesitant to read horror that also involves romance, cause usually I feel like the balance between romance and horror is never great, but I absolutely loved the romance in this book. I loved that there were so many queer relationships in this book. I also loved the way this book is basically written in second person, how the protagonist is writing to you, as if you are Dracula. It was such a fascinating writing style. I also tend to get squeamish whenever there are scenes about blood or sucking blood, and there were quite a few scenes in this book where I felt so disturbed and disgusted hahaha.

“You seemed to me a fire burning in the woods. I was drawn in by your enticing, smoky darkness, a darkness that still stirs memories of safety, of autumn, of home.”

So yeah I’m super impressed with this writing, I’ll definitely be checking out anything this author writes in the future.
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,172 reviews98.8k followers
March 31, 2023
“I made you into my private Christ, supplicated with my own dark devotions.”

I love epistolary novels, but this one could very well be my favorite. This is a reimagining of dracula, but told from the pov of his first bride who is writing a letter to him about their story, and we learn from the very first letter that she became his downfall. But this is also a story about abusive relationships and how power dynamics, manipulation, gaslighting, are sometimes very difficult to see. We get to see their story unfold from the very first day he made her a vampire under the promise of saving her to the very end where promises of love could no longer be masked as unconditional.

This book also very much discusses consent and how power dynamics and manipulation also can play a part in an individual saying yes when they may not under other healthier and safer circumstances. And also just… how hard it can be to leave an abusive relationship… especially when he is a powerful immortal vampire.

There is a lot of overall morally grey things happening too, and something in part 3 I just personally didn’t love - so that is why this sadly did not receive a full five stars from me. But everything else was actual perfection, the writing felt like eating honey in reading form (truly some of the best prose I've read in years), and overall this was such a powerful read that i know i will keep with me forever.

trigger + content warnings: blood, war, death, murder, abuse, gaslighting, ptsd, trauma, grief, depression, self harm for blood, self harm (with needle), anxiety, plague, medical experimentation, brief mention of human trafficking, loss of a loved one

blog | instagram | youtube | kofi | spotify | amazon
Profile Image for Maditales.
581 reviews23.7k followers
May 18, 2023
Obsession, submission, dominance and jealousy were portrayed beautifully in this book. This was definitely a very poetic book and I was sucked in right away.

I loved the way the themes were discussed and how the story was told. The perspective was something new and rare and I loved seeing her fight back for her independence and slowly start to question what she had to follow.
March 12, 2023

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I've had A DOWRY OF BLOOD on my to-read list for a while but I'd heard it was a densely atmospheric read and I have to be in the right mood for those, so it's been sitting patiently on my Kindle for months. Finally, after reading a string of creepy and gothic reads, I decided I was ready to top off my Halloween-in-March sundae with this blood-dark cherry of a book: a confessional, and a toxic love story, depicting Dracula and his not-so-willing brides (and bridegroom).

When Constanta first meets Dracula, she is dying: a casualty to a war. Her family was burned alive while she lay broken and bleeding. Dracula meets her and offers her a chance for new life and revenge. In her innocence, she takes it, not realizing what kind of bargain she's struck. Because as his bride, he has full control: of her, of everything. And he is only pleased with her while she's dancing to his tune.

As the story progresses, he takes on two more "brides": a scheming Spanish noble named Magdalena and a penniless artist named Alexi. Both are far more mercurially tempered than Constanta, who basically lives up to her name, and she often feels pale in their light. But neither Alexi or Magdalena are fully happy either, and their willfulness is causing tensions in this not-so-happy household.

I often lose patience with books that are written with a deliberate ornateness, and I did not have that happen here. If you're going to write a book with dense and flowery prose, this is how you do it. I can totally see why this book was snapped up from its indie publication and published traditionally so quickly: the writing is literary and philosophical, and I liked how Dracula was both a product of his times and also an abuser, and how he likely perpetuated cycles of abuse that he probably experienced from his master while living as a slave in Athens. I also liked how his control was so insidious, and how it was because he loved them that made it so hard to leave. Seeing that kind of nuance in books is rare.

The downside is that because this book was so flowery, it often felt like the plot was a vehicle for the prose, rather than vice-versa. Large spans of the book were just waiting for things to happen, and a lot of the "story" is spent residing in Constanta's head, hearing her story, and experiencing her small world from her eyes. Even though the book is just over 200 pages, it felt a lot longer, and I did find myself skimming a little at times. Despite that, A DOWRY OF BLOOD is still a very good book and it looks like now it's going to be book one in a series? So I'm very curious to see what happens next.

3 stars
Profile Image for Katie Colson.
676 reviews6,885 followers
December 5, 2021
December 2021:
I listened to the audio last month. Got the book and started physically reading it immediately. It is so much better that way. The audio is fantastic but the writing is superb in such a delectable way that is deserves to be read with your eyeballs.

Constanta and Magdalena are such phenomenal characters. I adore them. Favorite characters of the year for sure. When Gibson described Magdalena as a “Modern Machiavelli” I swooned. Ha!

I hope this wins best horror of 2021. If you haven’t read it…why not??

November 2021:

Y’all wasn’t lying. This shit slaps.
Profile Image for Ellie.
578 reviews2,201 followers
February 10, 2021
This is a darkly lush and blood-soaked gothic novella about a heroine who embraces monstrosity, written like a final love letter addressed to her abuser who she ✨murders✨. It is stunningly written and shows how abusive relationships masquerade as love, and also contains a well-developed polyam relationship (M/F/F/M).

When my order of Dowry came yesterday, and I decided to jump right in - I did not realise I'd be up reading until the early hours. I've been wading through a book slump, but this novella was so incredibly engrossing and just the right length that I devoured it all in one single bite.

Written from the perspective of heroine Constanta, it follows her as she's changed by a vampire during a village raid. Together she and her vampire lord make a home in a remote castle, and when plague sweeps near they begin to travel Europe. Over the centuries they add two more to their family: daring, cunning Magdalena and the bright, beautiful Alexi. What is powerful about this novella (and one of my top favourite aspects of the novel) is how Constanta denies giving her vampire lord a name in her story - he is just 'my lord' or 'you'. She takes that agency and power from him, just as he took her own agency and power over so many years.

Dowry, first and foremost, beneath the vampires and the blood, is a novella that shows the knotted web of abusive relationships, and how they snare people and then never let go. It shows how people will try to survive in these relationships, in their own ways: some will become pliant and diminish themselves; some will retreat from the world and fall into depressive episodes; some will try to fight back, even if they know it will only end badly. It's a story about abuse survivors, and that's important.

The polyam relationship in Dowry is significant in the way it shows how the daily lives of everyone in the relationship intertwine, and how different characters have different dynamics with each other. Polyam relationships are often simplified down to sexual relationships (and Dowry does have its fair share of sex scenes), but seeing Constanta's dynamic with Magdalena, and Constanta's dynamic with Alexi, and Alexi's dynamic with Magdalena and so forth, was something I enjoyed.

In terms of narrative, Dowry stretches from perhaps the 1400s up to the mid 1900s, skipping through history with all of its toppling empires and revolutions. The story does not dive deep into any specific historical event, but you still feel the weight of the years settle. That said, however, it is not a novella that lags at any point. Constanta's retelling of her life is lyrical and bloody, and my copy is full of tabs highlighting stunning quotes. Fans of Catherynne Valente's Deathless, another dark and lyrical book about two other immortals locked in a twisted, war-like relationship, will enjoy this (also, I've heard the author cite it as an influence).

If you've been considering reading Dowry, I urge you to nab yourself a copy (if you don't have one already) and treat yourself. It's a beautifully queer novel with an important lesson at its dark, beating heart.

> 4.5 stars

content warnings: blood; violence; abusive relationships (emotional, verbal and a few instances of physical towards the end); gaslighting; war/plague/famine.

Read for F/F February (#FFFeb2021)
Profile Image for Althea ☾.
625 reviews2,020 followers
March 12, 2022
I ABSOLUTELY ATE THIS UP. The way this is exactly what I love: dark and lyrical... and I'm surprised that I loved it... (do know what you’re getting into before you pick this up though, content warnings at the end as usual)

This review is a mess but this book grinded up my brain cells

“You could have kissed me or slit my throat and either would have made as much sense.” 

This book is for you if a dark and lyrical, queer retelling of dracula’s brides but the brides are f/f/m and they fall in love with each other sounds interesting to you.

“Through her eyes, I was able to experience the story for the first time all over again.”

THE WRITING. The fact that the name "Dracula" wasn't actually mentioned the whole book was really interesting from a reader's perspective and given that it's told from second POV just made the narrative that much easier to drown myself in. It really sold the vampiric passage of time on me, a little change here and there but not really enough for it to make a big difference. Given the plot and it’s a little more about the “romance”, I love that it focused more on the agelessness of vampires rather than other supernatural abilities.

I love dark stories that pack emotion, nuance, and still sends the right hopeful message while still being whimisical. So if you are like me, and 'light' horror is your thing, you really will enjoy this. That saying that “the best villains are the ones you secret love” was depicted so well with the story while still maintaining the idea that… well, it’s gaslighting and manipulation. I got so sucked into the narrative that I really felt all the emotions and contradictions that you would expect to feel from a story about dracula’s “wives”.

“I want to live. But I want to live in the world, not on the outskirts of it.”

I do kind of feel like it was cut short but if i look at it through the lens of horror, it’s a common trend in the horror I’ve read. When I say horror, it's not jumpscare horror in case that's what you were wondering. It's just a little more on the extreme of dark, which is exactly my kind of horror. I still do wish we got more of the trio living their lives together because it would have pushed this to be a new fave. In short, I needed more Alexi.

If I were you, I would go into this more for the the lyrical writing than a grand plot in case that’s something you’re expecting. It’s more focused on character relationships and dynamics, which isn’t a problem for me but it might affect you.

“The people only call me cruel because it’s easier to think of a woman as cruel than competent.”

↣ If you’re a sucker for dark and savory words, that promise a lifetime of sweetness that feels too good to be true… please read this. The longer I am apart from this book, the more I feel embroidering a blanket from S.T. Gibson's words.

— 4.0—
content warnings// Depictions of: Emotional, verbal, and physical intimate partner abuse, Gaslighting, War, famine, and plague, Blood and gore, Consensual sexual content, Sadomasochism, Self harm, Body horror, Violence and murder, Alcohol use, Depression and mania, Sexual assault (not directed at any named character), Drug use, Drowning, Child abuse (off-page), Death

pre-read review

queer reimagining of dracula's brides ft. polyamorous relationship/s... yes, thank you.
Profile Image for S.T. Gibson.
Author 9 books1,716 followers
December 19, 2020
Hello everyone! I wanted to add a quick note about content warnings for this book. It winds through some dark places on its way to a triumphant ending, and I want folks to be able to opt in or opt out at their leisure.

A DOWRY OF BLOOD contains depictions of:

- emotional, verbal, and physical intimate partner abuse
- gaslighting
- war, famine, and plague
- blood and gore
- consensual sexual content
- sadomasochism
- self harm
- body horror
- violence and murder
- alcohol use
- depression and mania

It also contains brief references to:

- sexual assault (not directed at any named character)
- drug use
- drowning
Profile Image for Jasmine.
260 reviews281 followers
October 11, 2022
A Dowry of Blood is a dark and delicious story of Dracula and his first bride, Constanta, spread across centuries.

Constanta lies in the mud on the brink of death when a man suddenly appears, saying he cannot save her, but it is in his power to help her. And so Constanta begins her second life with this arresting man who is as passionate as he is cruel.

Constanta tells her story in the form of a letter to her husband, although she never once utters his name. It is her first and last love letter to him because in her own words:

It was never my intention to murder you.
Not in the beginning, anyway.

As her husband adds two more people to their dysfunctional group, Constanta gradually realizes how brutal and suffocating his love could be.

This seductively written story is a quick read and can be consumed in a single sitting. It held my rapt attention from beginning to end. Although, it took some time to get used to the second-person singular voice.

I thought it would be a bit spicier than it was, considering most vampire books I’ve read are heavy on the spice. The open-door scenes were pretty brief.

The polyamorous relationship was well done, not just in the bedroom, but in their deep connection with each other.

As this is a dark vampire story, the author has a list of possible triggers at the beginning of the book and on Goodreads (in her review).

I have no clue what the next book will be like, but I cannot wait to read it.

Thank you to Redhook (Orbit) for providing me with a copy to review.

Profile Image for B.
120 reviews12.2k followers
March 8, 2023
“You did not let me keep my name, so I will strip you of yours.”

Such a lovely reimagining of Dracula, and honestly it’s reignited my interest in a potential reread of Dracula. I loved the family dynamic, but more than anything I loved S.T. Gibsons writing, so beautiful I couldn’t help but underline so many passages.
Profile Image for Aneta.
297 reviews45 followers
January 22, 2022
I'm almost sure I read some faulty copy because I couldn't have read the same book as everyone else gushing about this book.

This was just... not good: shallow characters, the most perfunctory and basic world/history descriptions, basically a soulless summary of events instead of actual plot. Everyone keeps calling this book sexy but the main relationship was just weird, not sexy at all. Unless you find it sexy when lovers call each other sisters or feel a motherly instinct towards their partner and keep thinking how young the partner is. Even the prose - a thing everyone gushes about, a thing I was very excited about - I found was trying too hard and not succeeding at all at being literary. Rather cringeworthy aside from a couple nice quotes here and there. Yikes. Yikes. Yikes.

Side note, I found it curious that characters who were supposedly: a peasant from medieval Romania, a noble from medieval Spain, and a poor actor from early 20th century Russia all spewed references to Anglo-Saxon popular culture. Almost as if... the author drew that from own experience. I'm not saying they couldn't know these things,
they lived in various places, but how come they never ever referenced anything from their cultures? Never felt influenced or shaped by their country of origin and upbringing, like a real person would be? US-centrism never rests, and why even try to put yourself in the shoes or your Eastern European characters I suppose. I'm only bothered by it because I'm Polish, anyway.

It hurts because I fully expected to give this 5 stars.
Profile Image for Hayley.
Author 2 books4,270 followers
May 26, 2021
this book evoked in me an emotion that no other book has made me feel.
THE PROSE WAS EXQUISITE. never have I ever been so captivated by writing alone, and the story on top of that only made the reading experience even more enthralling.
I’ve never read anything like this...I think I’ve found a new favorite book.
Profile Image for jaymiej.
169 reviews
September 27, 2023
4.5/ 5⭐
2/5 🌶️

“It was never my intention to murder you. Not in the beginning… anyway."

I loved the format of the writing, it was like reading a farewell letter in the first person.

Fantastic novel for vampires enthusiasts. I certainly never thought I would get to read a book about poly vampires that discusses toxic relationships and emotional abuse.

It was sad. So much Sadness. True sadness.💔💔💔

“You could have kissed me or slit my throat and either would have made as much sense.”

“You liked me best when I was like an oil painting; perfectly arranged and silent.”

“This is my last love letter to you, though some would call it a confession. I suppose both are a sort of gentle violence, putting down in ink what scorches the air when spoken aloud.”

“Even loneliness, hollow and cold, becomes so familiar it starts to feel like a friend.”
Profile Image for Em Lost In Books.
903 reviews1,816 followers
October 1, 2021
Story of an old vampire, I won't call him Dracula because he was never given a name throughout the book, and his brides that he takes over the time. Story was told from the perspective of one his bride, Constanta. She started with how she was turned and how it was love, devotion, and adoration for a long time until he decided to take another into his family. His new bride, Magdelena. It was jealousy at first but soon she too come to love Magdelena and life was again roses for sometime until the consequences of having a long life hit Magdelena and to some extent it effected Constanta too but she suppressed it. Soon it was depression, fear, insecurities, and melancholy surrounded the brides. But things hit a low point as Alexi entered the family.

While the book was enjoyable but I found events to be repetitive at times and that made the story predictable which killed the joy. Characters were written beautifully, specially Constanta and Magdelena, it was the other two which were half baked. Book has little to no world-building but as soon as Alexi entered the equation, I felt like author was in a hurry to wrap things up. There was no built up to the finale.

Sad to say I loved Constanta and Magdelena but they were not able to save the book for me.
Profile Image for Alexis Hall.
Author 51 books11.7k followers
February 12, 2022
Source of book: Bought by me
Relevant disclaimers: None
Please note: This review may not be reproduced or quoted, in whole or in part, without explicit consent from the author.

Well, hello. This was completely delicious.

It’s kind of … you know that bit in Interview with a Vampire where Lestat, Louis and Claudia spend, like, two hundred years being a kind of weird asexual/pansexual queer family murder unit? And it’s secretly the best bit of the book, despite the whole queerness/paedophilia conflation thing, while also being glossed over in a few paragraphs?

This is two-hundred-and-thirty-ish pages of that.

While also being an exploration of abusive relationships, a queer poly love story, and—despite its subject matter and its epic gothicness—a surprisingly uplifting celebration of found family. Do, however, be sure to check out the trigger warnings because it’s a long, dark journey.

The narrator is essentially one of the brides of a vampire who remains nameless, but who is a pretty direct riff on, y’know, a particular undead Transylvanian aristocrat that is—in this incarnation—such an almighty dickhead that I also refuse to name him.

He finds the heroine—an otherwise ordinary peasant girl—dying in the ruins of her village after a raider attack. Promising her love and eternal life, he brings her back from the brink. What follows is an eight-hundred-year relationship that eventually expands to encompass two more partners: Magdalena, an aristocrat and aspiring Machievel from Renaissance Spain, and Alexi, a reckless actor/model from revolutionary Russia.

The book itself takes the form of a series of letters, or a long confessional, written by the heroine (Constanta, as he names her) to her maker. Who, it quickly becomes clear, she has murdered the fuck out of. And, believe me, I’ve never been so relieved about an act of fictional violence in my life. Honestly, I think if we didn’t know Constanta is writing from the future—that she has escaped her life if control and subjugation at the hands of her vampire husband/father/abuser—the sense of textual claustrophobia would be close to unbearable.

The semi-epistolary format means much of the story is addressed to the absent “you” of the nameless vampire. This is, needless to say, a bold stylistic choice and may not work for some readers but, in this particular context? Totally worked for me. Don’t get me wrong the prose is flamboyant as all fuck—bordering on camp (and I mean that as a compliment)—but that too feels absolutely right for the story:

You held him by the throat, watching waves of rapture cross his face, while Magdalena and I drank from him. He looked like a lithe young Christ, crucified between two beautiful women with you as his cross.

I’m expressing myself a little playfully here, and my taste in gifs probably isn’t helping, but I sincerely loved this book. Your mileage may vary here, of course, but I found the nameless vampire an extremely deft and compelling portrait of an abuser—in that you can understand both how he draws people to him (he is otherworldly, powerful and fascinating) and the insidious, toxic nature of the “love” he offers (the way, for example, he forbids his partners contact with the human world “for their safety” or refuses to share his knowledge with them to keep them docile and dependent). Some of the most difficult passages to read are the ones where Constanta condemns herself in hindsight for subsuming so much of herself in her lover and not being “strong enough” to fight back before she finally did.

Interestingly enough, vampirism is playing double-duty in this book, both as an allegory for abuse (the vampire drains his lovers not just of life, but of their spirit and their freedom, leaving them trapped in a half-world of obsession and self-doubt) and, of course, queerness. Having recently re-read Dracula I can confirm it is the one of the straightest books in the English language (it is so staggeringly no-homo that Lucy’s corpse is practically a sex object) but the idea of the vampire itself long since entered popular consciousness as a symbol for whatever is deemed threatening to normative society. In Dracula it seems to be literally foreigners stealing our jobs and our women. But I honestly can’t imagine growing up queer and NOT identifying with vampires.

Of course, because Constanta, Magdalena and Alexi are vampires and therefore exist outside social boundaries they are simultaneously sexual and romantic partners, and each other’s family. But, like, given now (non-literally) incestuous queer circles can be? That kind of worked for me too, especially given the heavy gothic gloss upon the whole book. In terms of the relationships themselves, however, I will say that they didn’t feel particularly emotionally developed: Constanta tells us that Magdalena has this amazing political brain but it’s not really a part of her character that exists beyond its mentioning (on the page, she’s either fading into depression, or mewling coquettishly) and Alexi feels more archetype (the gilded queer youth, driven by restless demons) than person. But, again, these are vampires: it’s all about the big dramatic feels: the passion, the jealousy, the soul-deep devotion that has nothing to do with rational thought.

The thing is though, while there is a part of me that wishes there was a bit more to Magdalena and Alexi as people, I’d would be worried about compromising the intensity of the story. Ornate, swift and deadly, Dowry of Blood is such a beautifully carved stiletto of a book, I wouldn’t want to it to be anything other than what it is.

Profile Image for solanne.
193 reviews484 followers
December 8, 2022
i am utterly and irrevocably in love with this book.


the thought of reading this on a chilly october afternoon, coffee in hand, is, in fact, my sole motivation to get through life at this time
Profile Image for lisa (lh44's version).
163 reviews782 followers
May 27, 2023
Many thanks to Little Brown Book Group and NetGalley for providing me this e-ARC in exchange of my honest review!

A Dowry of Blood is a darkly gorgeous retelling of the beloved gothic classic Dracula. This is a relatively short book that spanned across centuries, covering the life of Constanta, a Romanian peasant girl turned Dracula's bride. Written in the form of a letter addressed to her husband, Constanta retraced her long and callous life alongside the infamous vampire lord as the pair travelled throughout the European continent.

The most prominent thing about this book is Gibson's gorgeous writing. Gloomingly lyrical and rich, her writing is particularly efficent to portray the obscure setting of the book. I have been thoroughly impressed as the book progressed because how fitting her gorgeous writing is in accord with the book.

A Dowry of Blood is a love story. In fact, I would argue that this book covered many dimensions of love. For example, Constanta's relationship with her husband is one of control, manipulation and despair. Gibson's way of telling its effects on Constansta's mental state is very prominent as the readers can feel her emotional exhaustion/resignation and her anger as their relationship progressed. Moreover, Constansta's relationship with Magdalena (oh Magdalena my love) is remarkably written. The passion, the love, the lust between them was everything I need. Additionally, I love how everyone in this book is just 💖bisexual💖without being vilified.

Overall it was an excellant book I didn't know I needed until today. I heard that S.T. Gibson has a new book coming out set in the same universe. Safe to say that I am incredibly hyped <3


Brutally magnificent | 4.5/5

Profile Image for A Mac.
813 reviews139 followers
January 27, 2023
Just as she was about to die, Constanta was saved – or cursed. No longer a medieval peasant, she is transformed into a bride fit for a vampire lord. Content at first, she soon realizes that she has no say in her husband’s activities. She’s soon joined by a politically savvy aristocrat and a starving artist, all who do their best to please their savior and creator. But as Constanta becomes more discontent, she begins to uncover secrets that will cause her to question her reliance on her husband and if she truly has escaped death.

This work inspired by the Brides of Dracula was everything I wanted it to be. I loved how the story was told as Constanta writing a letter to her husband. It allowed us to learn everything Constanta thought and how she changed and grew throughout the work. It also was a fantastic way to explore abusive and controlling relationships, and the positive and negative feelings that can arise in polyamorous relationships. The characters were wonderfully written. They were all unique and well developed and continued to grow and evolve throughout the work.

I loved how atmospheric this work was and how gorgeous the author’s writing style is. The work took place over several centuries, and I enjoyed the concept of seeing the different countries in different times, though the setting was never the focus of the work and left me wanting a bit more from it. However, as this was written to be a focused, character-driven story, it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the work. I loved that there was real romance and that the author kept the bedroom scenes to a low spice level.

With its gorgeous writing, its focus on breaking the cycle of abuse, and such well written female characters, I have no complaints about this work.
Profile Image for Tiffany Miss.Fiction.
121 reviews1,764 followers
May 28, 2021
I never dreamed it would end like this, my lord: your blood splashed hot flecks onto my nightgown and pouting rivulets onto our bedchamber floor. But creatures like us live a long time. There is no horror left in this world that surprise me. Eventually, even your death becomes its own sort of inevitability.

Quando si iniziano libri in una maniera totalmente casuale, senza avere nessuna informazione se non 'dracula', 'prospettiva femminile' e 'queer'.

Le tematiche non sono elaborate in profondità ma sono parte integrante della story, quindi se queste cose non fanno per voi attenzione!
Si parla di violenza e sangue, relazioni abusive, depressione, stati maniacali e catatonici, contenuti sessualmente espliciti, autolesionismo, abuso emotivo, verbale e fisico, gaslighting, body horror.

Niente, una scrittura così magnifica da farmi quasi piangere, ricca, densa, lirica e piena di immagini memorabili. La sedicenne gotica che ancora non è morta in me ha danzato su questa tomba di dolore con un senso potentissimo di immedesimazione, empatia, tristezza ma anche comprensione.

But you found me alone, my lord. Beaten down to a shadow of my former self and very near death. It was as though fate had laid me out for you, an irresistible banquet. Of promise, you would say. Of potential.
I say it was vulnerability.

Non che sia una grande recensione questa ma, a caldissimo, quella vicinanza nella rappresentazione di una relazione abusiva così intrisa di lucidità postuma mentre si riflette sul passato, quanto ci siamo ritrovate in quei passi e quanto ancora ci fanno stare male. Costanta è una di noi.
Poi queerness a gogo, crudeltà, vendetta, sangue (tanto... e non di certo solo perchè parliamo di vampiri) e confusione, inasprimento, durezza, amarezza sempre più eterne e profonde.

Ad ora, la mia lettura preferita in questo 2021.

You did not let me keep my name, so I will strip you of yours. In this world, you are what I say you are, and I say you are a ghost, a long night's fever dream that I have finally woken up from. I say you are the smoke-wisp memory of a flame, thawing ice suffering under an early spring sun, a chalk ledger of debts being wiped clean.
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