Dracula, My Love: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker

Dracula, My Love Syrie James fantasy book reviewsDracula, My Love: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker by Syrie James

Syrie James, author of two straight historical novels, dips her toes into the paranormal pool with Dracula, My Love. Using Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula as a framework, James tells the story from the point of view of Mina Harker, and adds a twist: What if Mina wasn’t just ensorcelled by Dracula, but truly loved him?

I figured this would be a hard sell for me. The popular view of the vampire has changed throughout time, from the ravenous monsters of folklore to the seductive villains of nineteenth-century fiction to the romantic heroes and antiheroes of the last few decades. But Mina in love with Dracula? The man who killed her best friend? I wondered how Syrie James would get me past this issue.

The answer is really clever. James makes excellent use of a plot point in Dracula that always did ring false to me as a modern reader. The Count has explanations for all the other crimes he’s accused of, too. Which, if any, of his stories are true? Much is left for readers to decide for themselves.

By deciding to remain faithful to Bram Stoker’s original, Syrie James sets herself a difficult task. The well-known plotline of Dracula and the prescribed gender roles of the Victorian period give Mina a limited range of actions. There’s only a certain extent to which she can drive the plot. Yet if she’s to carry a novel for over 400 pages, she needs to do things. James strikes an effective balance between the bones of Stoker’s story and the need to make Mina a dynamic character. Many of her actions, by necessity, go unseen by the men around her. But James gives her Mina plenty of opportunities to affect events behind the scenes, and also gives her the compelling emotional dilemma of being torn between two men she loves in different ways.

Dracula, My Love imitates the prose style of a 19th-century novel. This means sometimes the dialogue feels stilted and a little too expository, compared to what readers today are used to. This hampered my reading at first, but when I thought about it, it helped convey the sense of reading a long-lost, rediscovered manuscript from the period. The book is also a little melodramatic in places, but Dracula and melodrama do go well together!

Overall, Dracula, My Love is a fun, engrossing novel that will keep you turning pages to learn what will happen next and what twists Syrie James will add to the original. It’s not a short book, but it moves quickly and never feels long. I recommend it to vampire fans and to fans of “from the female perspective” retellings of literary classics.

Dracula, My Love: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker — (2010) Publisher: A THRILLING, PAGE-TURNING TALE OF ADVENTURE AND FORBIDDEN PASSION… Syrie James approaches Bram Stoker’s classic Dracula with a breathtaking new perspective — as, for the first time, Mina Harker records the shocking story of her scandalous seduction and sexual rebirth. Who is this magnetic, fascinating man? And how could one woman fall so completely under his spell? Mina Harker is torn between two men. Struggling to hang on to the deep, pure love she’s found within her marriage to her husband, Jonathan, she is inexorably drawn into a secret, passionate affair with a charismatic but dangerous lover. This haunted and haunting creature has awakened feelings and desires within her that she has never before known, which remake her as a woman. Although everyone she knows fears him and is pledged to destroy him, Mina sees a side to him that the others cannot: a tender, romantic side; a man who’s taken full advantage of his gift of immortality to expand his mind and talents; a man who is deeply in love, and who may not be evil after all. Soon, they are connected in a way she never thought humanly possible. Yet to surrender is surely madness, for to be with him could end her life. It may cost Mina all she holds dear, but to make her choice she must learn everything she can about the remarkable origins and unique, sensuous powers of this man, this exquisite monster, this… Dracula!

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KELLY LASITER is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

View all posts by Kelly Lasiter

2 comments

  1. Kelly- You ever read The Historian by Elizabeth Kostev?

  2. I actually haven’t! It’s been languishing around here forever though.

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