After taking far too long to get through this book, I can happily say I’ve finished! Ultimately I rated this book 3/5 stars on Goodreads and here’s why.
The first hundred or so pages of this novel were better than I expected. The last update I wrote I was feeling quite optimistic about it and I was starting to enjoy it. My feelings quickly started to change, however, and while I didn’t dislike the book I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend it to anyone.
What I liked about the book was that it didn’t take liberties with the lore set down by Stoker in Dracula, there was definitely a good atmosphere to it, and the characters were interesting. However, the plot did drag in places and most crucially I felt my belief suspended a number of times in the latter half of the novel.
I love a historical novel but I’m incredibly picky when it comes to historical accuracy and realism. The writing style of Dracul was usually in a more old fashioned style which can at times come across as very affected or, if done well, can really lend itself to the novel. At times it was clumsy in this book, words such as ‘purchase’ to describe taking hold of something were used repeatedly to the point where it stuck out to me. While it’s totally a valid use of the word it comes across as a bit forced when other words could have been used that would have been perfectly era appropriate. By using a more old fashioned writing style it made the more modern turns of phrase very jarring.
In places, particularly the telling of Ellen’s backstory, I felt some of the language and reactions of the characters were very modern and like the language inconsistencies it pulled me out of the story a few times. All of the main characters seemed more sensitive and sheltered than I’d have expected from Victorians, especially those living in Ireland in the time of the potato famine. How did Bram make it to his 20’s without ever seeing a dead body?
The repeated descriptions of Ellen’s attractiveness – and to a lesser extent Emily’s – was wearing after a while. We get it. She’s undead and unnaturally attractive. If I heard about her ‘perfect skin’ one more time I was going to scream.
Of all the characters I think I liked Matilda the best. She was a modern female character who didn’t seem like she’d been transplanted directly from the 21st century which is always a delight. She was assertive and really I don’t think her brothers would have gotten through the book alive without her.
The authors’ notes at the end of the book were really interesting and gave real life evidence to support the idea that Dracula and Dracul are based on true events, giving the reader an ominous sense of mystery. I personally would have liked to have read that at the start of the book rather than at the end where I was left feeling a little disappointed and cynical.
I don’t regret reading this book at all but it definitely doesn’t come close to equaling Dracula for me.