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On the whole, I can't stand fanfic, especially the sappy, amateur romantic stuff that proliferates the internet now. Generally I just steer clear. There has always been an exception in my mind, and that is Susan Kay's Phantom, of which Audible seriously needs to acquire an audio version. In the past 6 years or so, there's been an abundance of "Phanfic" out there telling the would-be sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, and most of them are anywhere from average to complete suckdom. The only stand out one is The Phantom of Manhattan, which is based on the original story idea by Andrew Lloyd Webber that he couldn't get to work, but then got to work some 20 years later in the form of Love Never Dies. Regardless, the stand out novel here is Phantom, which not only builds and expands on the original story, it's actually written far better than the original work and allows you to get inside the heads of the characters and explore the psychology of the story. It remains to this day as one of my all-time favorite books, and it's the book by which I judge all expansions of classic Victorian-Gothic literature.
Thing is, Dracula has the same problem, and it's because of Phantom that I held out hope of one day finding "THE book" that would go deeper and give me more. The original novel is perfect... for about 4 chapters, then it suffers quite a bit from being in a hurry to tell the story. There's no real expansion of anything. But the idea is brilliant. A lot of stories have been written since the book hit public domain. Some of it tries to concentrate on the Dracula / Mina story, some of it tries to focus on the monster hunt, and some of it tries too hard to be the sequel to the story. The Historian isn't bad, and the same holds true for the "official" sequel, Dracula The Un-Dead. But none of it stands out.
Now that's changed in my mind, because of THIS book. On a whim, I spent one of my Audible credits on a book that I could only assume would be a terrible shipper's squee-fest, and I figured that if it were, I could exchange it and get my credit back. Let me tell you about this book! It's not only beautifully told by a writer with a superior understanding of character development than Stoker, it also greatly expands on the original novel, especially on the characters of Mina and her husband Jonathan Harker. This book spins the familiar tale from Mina's perspective in such a way as to tie up some of the loose ends and filling the gaps to make sense of what Stoker only hinted at. And as a bonus, it's written with that Victorian sensibility in mind, so it fits as a companion work to the original novel. Is it a romance? Yes and no. It deals with the romance that's presented in the story, but it comes across more as a psychological study that masterfully tells how Mina could fall for the Count. Her backstory is called into play here, and everything just builds so well. But what's truly amazing to me is that in the course of exploring the romance and conflict within Mina, both sides of Dracula are explored. We get both the man he might have been (Vlad the Impaler notwithstanding) and the monster we know him to be. The love triangle takes center stage as a result, but it's less about the relationships and more about why the characters act and react as they do. Syrie James has clearly studied Stoker's original, and her love of the story shows through. It's not perfect, but it does shift the camera angle to include so much more of what we knew had to be there, and it does it very well.
Then add in a top level performance by Justine Eyre, who not only changes her voice between all of the characters, but eerily enough matches a few that I've heard in a couple different film versions.
All in all, I am truly impressed. A hardcopy of this book will find its way to my library shelf before long just on account.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
It was a joy hearing Dracula from Mina’s perspective. Dracula was written from a man’s point of view since, of course, Bram Stoker was a man. There was no insight into what the feelings and relationship was between Dracula and the women in his story.
Dracula, My Love gives you the story as it could have been with the inside scoop from Mina and Dracula. It lets you see the other side of the story. Dracula is a wonderful horror book, but personally left me wanting more. Dracula, My Love completed the story for me!
4 of 4 people found this review helpful