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.
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.
I first read Dowry as a self published novel back in December of 2021 and was delighted to see it get picked up for trad pub by Orbit earlier this year. To be honest, I’d always assumed this was a Tor novella. But regardless of the publisher, I’m delighted to see this beautifully haunting novella reach more and more eyes.
Before the characters, before the story, what truly makes this book is the prose. This is a vampire romance story, but its also a story about finding love strong enough to span centuries, and surviving abuse instilled for equally as long. And it’s in the prose, Gibson’s lush and haunting, that these messages are conveyed. I find it rare that I read a book attempting purple prose where I don’t cringe at a metaphor or two, but in this novella, the writing just flows. Truly this is a mood board come to life, in the best way possible.
This novella is told as a series of letter, written by Constanta, about the story of the three consorts, directed at their dead unnamed husband. I don’t want to go too much into the story itself because this is one of those books that needs to just be experience, but I will say I loved how Gibson illustrates the timelessness of these vampires, as they experience city after fallen city, empire after fallen empire.
Overall, I rate this book a 5/5. This was an unexpected sleeper hit the first time I’d read it, and it hasn’t lost any of its charm in the re-read. Lush prose, strong character relationships, and a really beautiful story about surviving abuse, A Dowry of Blood is a must read.
r/Fantasy 2022-23 Bingo Squares:
- Historical SFF (Hard mode)
- Author Uses Initials
- Published in 2022
- Non-Human Protagonist