A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson

Fantasy, 248 pages, published in 2021

A retelling of Dracula’s brides that spans centuries and countries.

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content Warnings: blood, violence, abuse, toxic relationships, grooming

I saw this book described as a dark, polyamorous retelling of Dracula’s brides, and that had me sold. I actually don’t really know the original story well, but I previously read a different retelling (The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave) and I enjoyed that as well.

The book follows Dracula’s first wife, Constanta, who he saved from a gruesome death. They eventually move around Europe and add more people to their family.

This book is written as a diary addressed to Dracula, though he is never actually named. I always find letters or recollections that have scenes and exact conversations like a standard novel would have a little jarring. If you were telling someone a story, or recording it in a diary centuries later, you wouldn’t recall exact dialogue, so if I think too long about that format, it takes me out of the story. I do think the format served a purpose though, and I think my issue is pretty much unavoidable when it comes to telling stories that way.

I think this story did an excellent job of portraying the feeling of immortality. Constanta realizes that when you have forever to live, time kind of just passes without you noticing. The book takes place over the course of roughly 700 years, and as the reader, you can see the world change around these characters.

The dynamics of the relationships in this book were so interesting. Dracula and Constanta are joined by another woman and a man, and whole they are all Dracula’s “brides”, they are all in a polyamorous relationship. I have been absolutely craving any sort of poly relationships in books, and even though this one definitely wasn’t healthy, it was nice to see. A lot of this book focuses on how manipulative and controlling Dracula is and how he uses fear and dependency to keep his family controlled.

I just really liked this book! It is short, but I think it was the right length for the story it was trying to tell.

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