A Dowry of Blood

The brides of Dracula come to glorious un-life in A Dowry of Blood, a seductive and visceral novel from S.T. Gibson (Robber Girl) that follows the legendary blood-drinker's concubines as they come into their own. A young peasant lies bleeding and broken after the brutal slaughter of her village until she is visited by a man she calls only "you." He transforms her from dying human to undying vampire, from helpless victim to his death-dealing queen. She leaves her old name and becomes "Constanta, your dark and unbreakable jewel." Although she never identifies him as Dracula, a later reference to a "debacle with the Harkers" removes any possible doubt.

Their honeymoon leaves a trail of bodies across Europe from the days of the Black Plague through the early 1500s. Constanta is furious when he presents her with brilliant, gorgeous Spanish noblewoman Magdalena as a sister-bride. She doesn't stay angry for long: she falls deeply for their newly turned companion. However, her affection for Magdalena forces her to realize that their maker acts more like a jailer than a lover. When their family grows again, Constanta realizes the brides must find a way to free themselves from a violent master who will never let them go.

Gibson's lush, poetic prose brings romance and grace to a tale of violence and obsession. Her polyamorous vampire brides have a group dynamic that flows from unflinching eroticism to familial bonding--and then back again--with deft ease. This dark-fantasy meditation on domestic violence and survival breathes new life into the Dracula mythos. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

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