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.
Title: A Dowry of Blood
Author: S. T. Gibson
Publisher: Nyx Publishing
Genre: Fiction, Paranormal, LGBTQ+
Age Range: Adult
Trigger Warnings: Emotional, verbal, and physical intimate partner abuse, Gaslighting, War/famine/plague, Blood and gore, Consensual sexual content, Sadomasochism, Self harm, Body horror, Violence and murder, Alcohol use, Depression and mania (all from author website)
A Dowry of Blood was our first Wilted Rose Book Club pick! I don’t think we could have had a more perfect start. The writing was so hauntingly beautiful and I could have easily read hundreds of more pages! I wish this was a full novel instead of a novella, but I heard the author plans to give us bonus content in her newsletter. I signed up immediately!
“You could have kissed me or slit my throat and either would have made as much sense.”
I loved the way this was written in second person in the form of a letter to a former abuser. Constanta never names him and I felt that was such a powerful move. Watching her go back to the start and showing how she slowly woke up to the situation she was truly in had me in awe. The strength she had to stand up to her abuser was inspiring and I feel so many will relate to her situation. I am happy it starts off with her finally free and writing this letter because I was able to look forward to the abuser’s downfall. It made it all the more satisfying.
Now I want to get into the other brides. I absolutely loved Magdalena and Alexei! They turned Constanta’s relationship into a polyamorous one. I really enjoyed how smart and witty Magdalena was. She was always glowing when she was fully herself. Alexei was so creative and social. The definition of charismatic. I loved seeing how quickly the loved and protected each other, especially against the abusive one. My favourite moments were the time the three of them spent together. I really wish we got to see more once they were finally free.
“You did not let me keep my name, so I will strip you of yours. In this world, you are what I say you are, and I say you are a ghost, a long night’s fever dream that I have finally woken up from. I say you are the smoke-wisp memory of a flame, thawing ice suffering under an early spring sun, a chalk ledger of debts being wiped clean. I say you do not have a name.”
I respected Constanta by not naming her abuser, but I will now mention him as part of my review. Obviously, this is Dracula. I really liked that he wasn’t romanticized and stayed true to the manipulative character we learned about from Stoker. It was refreshing to see him as the abusive person he is and to not even give him a perspective. I liked that this was all about his brides and his downfall. Honestly iconic.
If you have always been interested in Dracula’s brides and love polyamorous relationships with hot badass vampires, please read this beautiful novella with its stunning prose! Also if you love Deathless, definitely give this a read! I plan to read more from this author.
Thank you to Nyx Publishing for the arc! This title was released January 31, 2021.
Find A Dowry of Blood: Goodreads | Storygraph
Buy A Dowry of Blood: (UK) Waterstones | Amazon UK // (INTL) Book Depository
update: more reviews!!
As you know, this was the first book of the month for my book club, Wilted Rose! Here are some reviews from the members:
Saint is a poet, author, and village wise woman in training. A graduate of the creative writing program at the University of North Carolina at Asheville and the theological studies program at Princeton Seminary, she currently lives in Boston with her partner, spoiled Persian cat, and vintage blazer collection. She is represented by Tara Gilbert of the Jennifer De Chiara literary agency.
we are all stardust and stories…