What a peculiar idea... but oddly engaging nonetheless!
As someone who reads a lot of Gothic horror, I was naturally intrigued by the concept of this book. A mash-up of the two behemoths of Gothic literature, you say? My interest was piqued, and so I commenced reading.
It's about the Countess Dracula (yes, you read that correctly), who invites Mina Harker to her castle in Transylvania. She's got a dastardly plan to move to the UK, and Mina is just the solicitor to help her achieve it. Meanwhile, back in Blighty, Mina's friend Lucy is choosing her husband from Arthur, Dr Seward and Quincy; that is, until a certain vampire takes a shine to her neck. Cue the next bride of the undead, who duly has to be slain to stop her evil doings.
Sound familiar? Yes, that's because until this point, the story basically is Dracula, with whole sections being virtually identical. Strange...
Anyway, here's where the mash-up commences. Countess Dracula wants to breathe life into her old sister Elizabeth, so she starts messing with nature, creating a monstrous creature through the power of electricity. This unholy bride horrifies her so much that she flees, leaving the monster to wreak havoc in her stead. As for the rest, well... I won't spoil the ending, but needless to say, the clues are already there in the original texts.
Okay. Deep breath. So what was good about this? Well, let's face it, the original texts lend themselves to cracking storytelling, and the author's approach felt vibrant and passionate. I can always sense a fellow Gothic horror fan from a mile off. Initially, the mash-up didn't work for me at all, but once the monster was created, it suddenly fell into place, and I found myself reading with a lot more urgency. Yes, I admit it, I was gripped!
However, I felt that as a whole, it was too rooted in the originals. There were also moments where I questioned the author's decisions. For example, turning Dracula into a woman didn't really add much; it didn't twist anything on its head at all, and it certainly didn't feel like a feminist statement. Ditto erasing Jonathan Harker and getting Mina to fill his boots (though I did like her character).
Overall though, an entertaining read. And I LOVE that front cover.