Title: A Dowry of Blood
Author: S.T. Gibson
Genre: Adult, Fantasy, LGBT+
Publisher: Nyx Publishing
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.
Narrative style: First Person | Perspective(s): Single (Constanta)
Tags: Retelling, Fantasy, LGBT+
Wow. This book. Damn.
Let’s talk about this. I Love everything vampire, so when I saw a Dracula’s brides retelling I quite literally jumped on it. It did not disappoint and I ended up staying up to the wee hours to finish it. Which is to say, I read on my phone every time the baby woke up to nurse which was every couple hours all night (haha).
It has everything I’ve wanted to know about Dracula’s brides and then some. It was extremely interesting to read a new perspective on Dracula. He made his lovers, taught them, saved them, loved them but he also abused them, manipulated them and controlled their lives. Reading the path that Constanta takes first adoring him, then mistrusting and then finally realizing his abuse and fighting to save the other brides and herself was cathartic.
This Story is NOT for the faint of heart. It does deal with domestic abuse (verbal/emotional/mental/physical) and there are parts that were hard to read especially if you’ve experienced that. So beware, it could be triggering for you. For me, as a survivor myself, it did amp up my anxiety, I got knots in my stomach, BUT following Constanta and her journey was a breath of fresh air. She is powerful, strong, a protector. She made the story worth it.
What I Loved About A Dowry of Blood
My absolute favorite part was Constanta. She is incredible and her growth over the course of the book was extremely well-written and realistic. She begins as a dying peasant girl saved by a mysterious stranger (who of course turns out to be Dracula). He saves and teaches her, helping her enact revenge on those who murdered her family and village. From there she falls in love with him, becoming his ‘bride’, following him from city to city, living a lavish lifestyle but always a carefully controlled one. We see her gamut of emotions as he adds another bride and another. How her attitude changes over time, how she learns his secrets and realizes his abuse. She becomes this powerful, quiet force that changes the story and shapes it into one of her own choice. Her ending is one that I adored.
My other favorite part? The growth over the course of time of all the characters. This story spans decades and decades of time. You have to assume that the characters won’t remain stagnant, and Gibson does an incredible job of showing their growth as things around them change and advance. The characters must adapt to these changes to survive and yes, they struggle, but ultimately they figure it out and continue to survive.
Also, can we talk about that COVER?! Just wow. We all know that I am a sucker for good covers, and this one is *chef’s kiss*. I love everything about it, so creepy and macabre. It doesn’t look like a ‘new’ book, it looks like an old book, if that makes sense? Like it looks like it’d be something from a few decades ago, it looks historical. I really enjoyed how that ended up complimenting the story since it did flow throughout history over several decades.
What I Wish I Liked, But Didn't
This is hard to explain, because it is essential to the story, and I didn’t really dislike it, it was just hard to read in some places. I said earlier that there is clearly abuse from Dracula onto his brides. It is an accurate depiction of abuse and how sometimes it’s not obvious until much later. Dracula appeared to love his brides, and he did in his own way, but his actions and behavior were that of an abuser. Controlling, gaslighting, vindictive, dismissive, there were some parts that made me go ugggghhhhhh, only because I’d experienced that myself. Again, I didn’t really dislike this, it was just a big damn oof because it was written so realistically.
Is Worthy Of Bookish Valhalla?
This book is most definitely worthy of Bookish Valhalla. I enjoyed it thoroughly and have already recommended it to several people. If you love vampires, history, murder and love, this is for you. And again, fair warning it does contain realistic abuse BUT it is so so good and worth the read.
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