- STAR RATING: 5 stars
PAGE LENGTH: 250 pages
- DATE PUBLISHED: October 4, 2022
- PUBLISHER: Orbit Books
CONTENT WARNINGS: Emotional abuse, blood, toxic relationship, sexual content, physical abuse
- IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by VE Schwab for the dark, sumptuous feeling
Thank you to Netgalley and Orbit Books for providing an ARC copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
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.
[Note: I wrote this review at the end of July.]
I really meant to save this book until closer to October for spooky season reasons, but uh, I’ve been desperately waiting for the opportunity to read it that it just sort of…opened itself on my Kindle. And before I knew it, I was like…50% of the way through it, and well, why stop now when it’s so good? And it is, it really, really is. A Dowry of Blood is a dark, sumptuous retelling of Dracula’s wives, and how their lives fully revolve around a monster of a man. It’s not a very long book, but by the end of it, you are fully rooting for the wives.
Despite not mentioning Dracula by name, there is no way this book is about anyone other than him. He is the vampire, so who else could it possibly be? The whole of the book is told in first person by Constanta, in a sort of diary/letter format. Constanta tells the story of her life with Dracula, and how it started out wonderful, and gradually (or not so gradually) it turned into a nightmare. Magdalena, Alexi, and Constanta are Dracula’s wives (and husband). All four of them are in a poly relationship with one another. It was lovely, reading about how much they cared for one another. As time passes (and oh it does, hundreds and hundreds of years), Magdalena, Alexi, and Constanta all come to realize they are no longer in a relationship, but a dictatorship.
And then, things change. Suddenly, everything is bitter, and they find it hard to live their lives without showing their resentment for Dracula. It’s hard not to resent him, as a reader. He keeps them locked away, not allowed to mingle with humans, not allowed to participate in the world. How could anyone live like that? Especially people who have been around for hundreds and thousands of years.
The writing in A Dowry of Blood reminds me of the darkest, deepest chocolate. Delicious, bitter, and sweet all at once. It is gorgeous, dripping from the pages like the blood the vampires must survive on. This book will leave you wanting more, so much more, but it ends on a perfect, perfect note. Five stars. Highly, highly recommend this one, especially if you love vampires at their best, and most classic form.
A DOWRY OF BLOOD comes out OCTOBER 4, 2022.
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