A Dowry of Blood
by S.T. Gibson
January 31, 2021
“But now, all my carefully crafted excuses for you dissolved like sugar under absinthe, revealing a truth I had spent centuries avoiding.”
One Sentence Summary: Dowry is a dark, queer reimagining of Dracula’s brides that explores abuse, vampirism, and love.
POV & Tense: First person, past tense in a letter
Setting: Takes place over the course of many centuries and in several countries
Mood: Dark, cathartic
Themes: Abusive relationships, vampirism, love, polyamory, and more
Romance: Polycule featuring Dracula, Constanta, Magdalena, and Alexi
Content Warnings: Emotional, verbal, and some physical abuse; gaslighting; murder, gore, war, death
Other Tags: Vampires
A Dowry of Blood is a well-crafted novella with a powerful story of abuse at its dark, bloody heart. The story is told from Constanta’s point of view in an open-letter form to her abuser, the ancient, mysterious vampire who found her at the brink of death as a young woman after her village was raided and killed. Though it’s a letter, the descriptions and Constanta’s ruminations are beautiful, the prose lush and lyrical. Constanta never names her husband, never gives him that power, but instead the reader is meant to understand he is Dracula through subtle hints, such as mentioning the Harker incident during the Victorian era. Through the centuries, Constanta and her husband add two more to their relationship, Magdalena and Alexi. We see through Constanta’s recounting the emotional, verbal, and occasionally physical abuse that Dracula doles out to his beloveds, and how each one copes to survive. The final part of the story is cathartic, an emotional release, as we learn how Constanta, Magdalena, and Alexi finally exact revenge and find freedom, ending on an optimistic note. Overall, A Dowry of Blood is a heart-wrenching exploration of abuse, vampirism, and love, perfect for fans of gothic horror.
Thank you NetGalley and Nyx Publishing for providing a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.