A Dowry of Blood by ST Gibson is a lush horror story. In A Dowry of Blood, we read Constanta’s letter describing why she killed her husband and creator.
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.
“If you can still hear me wherever you are, my love, my tormentor, hear this: It was never my intention to murder you. Not in the beginning, anyway.”
This is how the amazingly lush, Victorian novel begins. ST Gibson’s writing is fantastic and had me highlighting quotes on every other page. The way the words seemed to flow together, and express love, pain, and abuse were tangible. It genuinely causes you to feel these words. Gibson does not try to necessarily sugarcoat the abuse that Constanta and her counterparts experience. They are blatantly living life through the lens of hyper-vigilance. However, they are also dealing with seeing him through the lens of a savior, creator, and lover. This is a common but less talked about trauma experience with victims of abuse, and I found the writing in this did an interesting job of addressing it.
“When life fails you, spite will not.”
As this story travels through time, it’s unique in explaining the history, the buildings, and the ongoing wars around it. The logic of this movement through time made me consciously aware of what era the vampires were in. I really appreciated this. The Villain in this book (who is never referred to by name) does invite others into this polyamorous relationship without the complete permission of the other characters. As someone who has never really experienced a poly relationship, I can’t speak to how common this would be especially if one of the partners is abusive. I found learning how they grew to love one another despite it, and the various ways they did love one another interesting to read.
“It tortured me, how perfect she looked. I wanted to pull her behind the carriage and drain her dry.”
If you’ve read any of my tweets or seen my vlogs: you know I don’t like smut. I hate reading smut and it always makes me incredibly uncomfortable. However, this is the first book I have ever highlighted smut in. The way it was written was gorgeous and sexy, terms I generally wouldn’t use for this situation. I adored the smut and found it relevant to the book’s plotline. It truly added to the adoration of the characters towards The Villain.
“Magdalena sighed into my kiss and I knew I would kill for her, die for her, do it all over again and then some.”
We aren’t given tons of character development aside from Constanta herself. For most, their characters degrade under the abuse. This is common, and it was interesting to see it in a fantasy and horror concept. The gore in this was still written in a lush way, but there is quite a lot of blood lust in this. If that’s not your thing, be wary of picking it up. This truly could be the Interview with a Vampire for the Zillenial generation.
“Love makes monsters of us, Constanta, and not everyone is cut out for monstrosity.”
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.