Thumbs up for A Dowry of Blood by S. T. Gibson. Dark fantasy.
When FairyLoot sent me a Dracula retelling that contained the word “romantic” in two of the blurbs, I was…concerned, because there’s a lot of stuff that passes as romance these days that I won’t touch with a ten-foot pole. But I ended up reading the whole thing in one sitting. Not only does it not romanticize abusive relationships, it’s about recognizing and getting out of one. Which, in the narrator-heroine’s place, means (no spoilers–you know from the first page) staking her vampire master through the heart and then (SPOILERS HERE) finding a way to live happily ever after in a happy polycule with the other two members of his harem. (END SPOILER) My brain says it gets 4 stars for being engrossing and also having a positive message, not 5 stars because seriously it’s a 300-page Dracula retelling with tropes stolen from all over, right? It’s not War and Peace. But. I’ll say 4.5 stars and round up. Very good indeed.
Our first visitor to our home was our last, and although it still feels like treachery, I can’t help but admit that I still think fondly on our young harbinger of doom. Maybe it was because I hadn’t spoken to another person in decades, possibly even a century by then. I had grown starved for the sound of a human voice that wasn’t just the gargled screams of the victims you brought home to teach me how to kill. By then, I was better acquainted with the jugular vein, the forearm’s tender ulnar river, and the beckoning femoral artery hidden in the soft cushion of a thigh than I was with pleasant conversation.
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