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 was no woman. I was merely a supplicant, a pilgrim who had stumbled across your dark altar and was doomed to worship at it forever.“A Dowry of Blood, S.T. Gibson
I received an e-ARC copy of this book from the author and Nyx Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Trigger warnings: violence, gore, all forms of relationship abuse, depression, mania, obsession
A Dowry of Blood is one of my most anticipated new releases for 2021, and I am so happy to find that it did not disappoint at all. The word “vampire” had immediately captured my attention on it, but coupled with the phrase “queer polyamorous vampires in a story spanning centuries” got me even more excited. It is a dark, haunting, and lyrical gothic retelling of Dracula’s Brides, and it delivered spectacularly in its promises. This is what I want in my vampire-centered novels – a lot of blood, gore, and cutthroat viciousness mixed with beauty and splendor.
Written as an open-letter from Constanta to Dracula, this book tells about Constanta’s life upon being changed into a vampire by Dracula during the 15th century in Transylvania, and how their relationship spanned across many centuries – for both the good and bad. The way the story was written was very intimate, especially when she would describe how her husband would show a lot of different sides of him that were totally unexpected. Her haunting tales really drove the story forward, and each revelation and realization she learned just amped up the stakes more.
The polyamorous (M/F/F/M) relationship in this book is a very significant detail in the story. While I often encounter polyamorous couples in other books that solely focused on romance and sex, this book didn’t just focus on that. Sure, there were a number of intimate scenes between the characters, but it focused more on the relationships they all had with each other, and how those dynamics greatly affected all of their lives together. It was a camaraderie – especially between Constanta, Magdalena, and Alexi – forged together as they tried to find a place within their husband’s cruel world, and how to work around it.
This book also spoke volumes about a number of sensitive topics, such as abuse and depression and mania, but it was done with regard and care that it didn’t feel intrusive and bothersome, hence it was able to portray more of the characters’ struggles towards their abuser, but it was full of hope that there are things so much better for all of them away from their husband’s stifling clutches.
I highly recommend this book to everyone, because it’s just so much more than just vampires and a polygamous relationship. It’s worth so much more, and it will forever stamp into your minds and hearts.
About The Author
S.T. Gibson is a poet, author, and village wise woman in training. By day she works in marketing, and by night she scribbles speculative stories full of big personalities, lavish settings, and the sort of existential questions that are considered impolite to discuss at dinner.
She holds a Bachelors degree in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, and a Masters of Theological Studies from Princeton Theological Seminary. She is the recipient of two Topp Grillot Awards for Promise in Poetry Writing.