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.
Trigger Warnings: graphic depictions of blood, gore, murder, disease, domestic abuse, gaslighting, manipulation, emotional abuse
I received a copy of A Dowry of Blood from Nyx Publishing. This does not change my opinion of the book.
A Dowry of Blood is a vampire novel that sparkles of gothics, decadence, and delights but hits hard with a sexy bite.
Left bleeding, a Romanian peasant, awaits her new life. An undying king rebirths Constanta. This is the end of her human life and the birth of her vampire life. Draping her in his arms, Dracula takes her to his gothic castle as his bride. Throughout the decades and centuries, they travel to romantic destinations all over europe. Diseases and war surround them but they live on no matter what fatalities meet the mortals.
When Milan is in chaos, they travel to Spain to meet a machiavellian political beauty. Magdalena. Bright, sexy, and dramatic Magdalena. Dracula once again takes a bride. Constanta’s also taken by Magdalena’s beauty and smarts.
When reading A Dowry of Blood, expectations flip from a cis man plucking brides for his own pleasure to two brides more into each other than they are of this powerful masculine figure. It’s very much a poly relationship but not what you would expect in a reworking of a classic gothic novel.
Before I go further, I must clarify something. This is a romantic novel, not a romance. I won’t go into detail but considering the ending of the novel this book does not qualify as a romance.
At last, Dracula acquires his final bride. Taken from Russia in the midst of the Bolshevik revolution, Alexei is the equivalent of a blonde cherub. He’s all brightness, fast tongues, and quick sips. He likes excitement and sexiness draped on every corner of his life. Really, there’s a lot of excellent and risky ravishing going on in A Dowry of Blood. It’s terrific.
Together they make a family but this one has deep and dark secrets. I’m not just talking about the vampirism either.
Letters are often written by those hurt in a relationship. This is a story that starts out romantic and transforms into something else. Like the beginning of a lot of relationships, secrets unfold and behaviors reveal themselves. Many that have been through hurt write a letter we don’t intend to send so we may go through all our feelings.
The format of A Dowry of Blood feels very in vein with that idea. Like many gothics, letters play a big role in horror. It gives of a romantic feel and really amps up the feeling of a person sitting by a fire in an old castle, writing all their feelings to their loved one. Constanta addresses the reader as if we are ‘Dracula’, the ‘you’ in the novella. It’s exactly why this novel is not only intimate but also frightening. It makes us think about ourselves on a level that is discomforting.
We’re not meant to be comfortable.
‘You’ is such a shocking aspect of the novel and one I loved. Gibson doesn’t write things stereotypically. Everything feels real. Just because a home is abusive does not always mean that love in that home doesn’t exist. That’s something I rarely see from authors and I love that Gibson portrays the relationships in this manner.
Raw and real on a level most people could not understand, A Dowry of Blood is beautifully told. Gibson takes a classic and turns it into one that is romantic and a box of horrors all at once.