Synopsis: Constanta was his Wife. Then he took Madalena, and finally Alexi.
CW/TW: Domestic Abuse/Emotional Abuse/Manipulation/Violence/Murder/Blood/Gore/ others may be present.
Rep: Polyam relationship | Bi/Pan MC’s
So I was really looking forward to this book – it is a reimagining of Dracula but with the focus on his Spouses: Constanta, Magdalena and Alexi. But, I was unfortunately disappointed by the book overall.
Prose. The prose and narration is unique, the book is told through a series of letters Constanta wrote to Him (The Lord Vampire is never named – which I actually really liked – it bought power to Constanta’s narrative). Initially, I really liked this prose choice, it was unique and compelling, Constanta being quite a compelling voice in the book. However, as the book went on the narrative choice felt lacking, more of a summary than a story – which I understand, it is a recollection of a story, but it could have been done in a more compelling way. The prose is pretty, descriptive and lyrical – but it lacked that depth I wanted for the lyrical nature to be full captivating.
Story. The story was interesting, I liked the change in perspective, the power given to Constanta to recall their lives. We know how the book will end as it is said at the start so we get tension and a build up to this inevitable conclusion. However, while I enjoyed the story, not much actually happens. Lord Vamp and Constanta get married, go around Europe and find Magdalena and Alexi, and the spouses (particularly Constanta) slowly begin to realise the unhealthy and toxic dynamic they have with their ‘Lord’. The best parts of the story were the beginning and the very end – I actually enjoyed the ending much more than the rest of the book and would actually have preferred the story to go beyond this ending, exploring Alexi, Constanta and Magdalena’s lives.
I was intrigued by the polyam and bi/pan rep in the book – I was quite excited to see how it would play out. Now, I hated Lord Vamp and his relationship with all the spouses, however, I loved Constanta’s relationship with Magdalene, and I initially liked her relationship with Alexi. However, I could not get on board with all the agreement that this book was sexy in any way! I understood the literary choice for the spouses to call each other ‘Sister’ and ‘Brother’, but it made their intimate moments seem uncomfortable. Similarly, I did not like Constanta and Alexi’s dynamic as the book went on. Minor Spoiler – > > Constanta cares for Alexi in a maternal way, which is fine – it worked well. But, despite this maternal bond between her and Alexi the book takes a turn and the two get intimate and it made me uncomfortable – it just felt like a weird choice to build this bond and then suddenly make them have sex. << — Spoiler End.
Characters. The driving force of this book was, and truly is, Constanta’s character. These are her letters, her perspective on the story, and her heart in turmoil. I thought Constanta (and Lord Vamp) were the best developed characters in the book, Magdalena following behind, Alexi the least. I loved Constanta’s character, watching her development, her desire to protect, her struggle with her situation – it was compelling and heart-aching. I loved her love of Magdalena too. Lord Vamp was despicable and I hated him to my very core, so naturally, he was well developed enough to make me despise him so. Magdalena was bright and inquisitive, which I loved and watching the effect of Lord Vamp on her was devastating. Alexi, I feel, lacked much depth, he brought noise and charm, true, but there was little to him aside from this and I so wanted to feel more for him.
Overall, A Dowry In Blood, by ST Gibson is a unique and interesting take on the Dracula story. However, it didn’t live up to my expectations and the story and characters just fell a little flat.
*I received an eARC via #Netgalley from Orbit in exchange for an honest review – Thank you!*