Dracula, My Love – The Secret Journals of Mina Harker: A Novel, by Syrie James – Book Review

Dracula, My Love, by Syrie James

Dracula, My Love, by Syrie JamesDracula, My Love: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker: A Novel, by Syrie James
Avon A – July 20, 2010 – Trade Paperback Original – 480 pages
Source: Sent by publisher for review

Mina Murray is in Whitby on holiday with best friend Lucy Westenra and her mother.  Both are enjoying the last of their time together as carefree young women before they are married. Mina is troubled by the fact that her fiancee, Jonathan Harker, hasn’t written to her as much as usual, but she is quickly distracted by the arrival of young, handsome and mysterious Mr. Wagner, who seems to have eyes for her alone, and then by the mysterious sleepwalking and bouts of illness that plague Lucy. Mina doesn’t know, but will soon discover how the events are connected, and how her life has already taken a drastic turn from the tranquility she once enjoyed to a passion she has never experienced.

I was recently thrilled to discover that Syrie James had a new book coming  out.  I loved her novel The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte. I was very curious to see how she would treat Mina, a fictional character, in her novel.  Dracula, My Love was just as well researched as anything that she wrote about one of her real life heroines and I felt as if I was walking around in the world with Mina, Lucy, Dracula, et al. I must admit before I get too far into this that I have not read the original version of Dracula in its entirety, but now I am excited to do so if only to compare and contrast this story with the original.  What I know of Dracula is based on vague remembrances of old movies to which I probably only half paid attention.  The appeal was drastically increased when I found out that it would be James’ next subject.

Dracula, My Love did excellent job in communicating what the time looked like and felt like, how people dressed and behaved, and the roles assigned to the sexes at the time.  Through Mina relationships with Jonathan and Dracula the reader is  able to explore the expectations demanded of women and the limited opportunities granted to them to explore their passions sexual or otherwise.  Dracula is drawing on several lifetimes of experience and encourages Mina to question her assumptions about her choices and to pursue avenues that she didn’t think were available to her.  We see how the things that we take for granted – like having a conversation with a man – were huge improprieties, and one that had feared consequences.   James explores one of the most debated ideas on the meaning of vampires, that they played a role in the exploration of the sexual awakening and identity of women.  Both Lucy and Mina use Dracula as a means to satisfy desires and freedom that they suspect will remain unfulfilled in their marriages.

Dracula, My Love is at its core  a love triangle, unbalanced though it must be with the title being what it is. Certain things about Mina’s life and the choices that she makes can  be surmised from the beginning because the book is more about the journey that she undertakes to arrive at who she is.  It is about loving and appreciating the old, exploring the new and combining the two in ways that you can live with.

I really appreciated having the opportunity to know Dracula’s story and to learn about his motivations as well as historical information about Transylvania and Vlad Tepes. Mina is a character that is very much in flux and attempting to come into her own and there were more than a few times when her naivete frustrated me and also times when she seemed to be unusually dense for one so smart which made the book a little slow for me in places. My feelings about her vacillated wildly because while she could be tiresome, I also thought that her behavior might be expected from someone as torn as she is between two men, and one who has had as little experience as she has had.

James’ writing is thoroughly researched and gorgeous to read.  This is a great read especially if you enjoy England in the late 19th century, Dracula, or just plain good historical fiction.  I guess I am now officially counting down to the next James novel.


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  1. I’ve been wanting to read this one. I like the Dracula story and am thus very curious about this one. Have you read The Historian? (It makes a nice audio)

  2. Sounds interesting. I had no idea that the meaning of vampires was debated like that. I’ve never read Dracula or saw any Dracula movies, so I guess I always believed the blood-sucking stereotype.

  3. I see Dracula and sparkly vegetarian vampires as two totally different things. I like Dracula, the Victorian nature of him, the gothic romance, the history. I really liked The Historian.

  4. Thank you, Nicole, for your wonderful review of my novel! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I had a great time writing it, and, like Mina, I fell madly in love with “my” version of Dracula. I’m delighted that you’re looking forward to my next book, because “Nocturne” (to be published by Vanguard Press in Feb. 2011– just six months away) is a contemporary vampire romance with a handsome, charismatic, and accomplished vampire as its hero… and a very modern woman as its heroine.

    In the meantime, enjoy “Dracula, My Love!” I encourage readers to visit my website at http://www.syriejames.com, watch the Dracula My Love video, read reviews, and leave me a message.

    All best,

    Syrie James

  5. Great review!! Sounds relaly good… I was confused when I first started seeing this book because there’s another one out in August called Dracula in Love. I know very little about Dracula and have been thinking of reading it, but good to know that maybe I should read this first since I don’t NEED to read Dracula first and then maybe this will motivate me to, lol!

  6. Well, it definitely sounds like this book is a lot better than Dracula. In Dracula, Mina is an extremely flat character and I really disliked her. In fact, Dracula is definitely not one of my favorite novels. Still, the premise is so timeless and I find it constantly mentioned or alluded to in our culture. I’m intrigued to see James’ take on Mine and Jonathan and Dracula – who is probably the most interesting character, but still, Dracula is a poorly developed character in the original novel. Anyway, I could go on and on about Dracula – I read it in a Gothic Lit class and learned so much while discussing the book in class. If you do end up reading it, I look forward to reading your thoughts.

    1. I plan on reading Dracula soon, but I suspect that I might have enjoyed it this way etter. I have tried to get through Dracula before and didn’t quite make it. But I will see.

  7. Hey!!! I didn’t realize she wrote The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte! I have that book on my shelves now, and I was just eyeing it last night. I hope to get to it soon, and that makes me feel better about a Dracula-inspired spinoff, addition, etc. Whatever you want to call it!

    1. The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte is my favorite of hers and one of my favorite books. I loved it. Trust me, take the time to read it!

  8. I like Stoker’s Dracula and this one does sound interesting but I think I might be vampired out at the moment. I have one in my TBR pile that I’m avoiding. Maybe in the fall…

    1. I know what you mean. I am supposed to be reading Dracula in Love, by Karen Essex, but I had to take a little breather before delving back into the world of Mina and Dracula.

  9. I definitely want to read this one. I love historical fiction and have always been pretty intrigued by Dracula.