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Dracula in Love Reader’s Guide

By Karen Essex

Dracula in Love by Karen Essex


The questions, discussion topics, and suggestions for further reading that follow are designed to enhance your group’s discussion of Dracula in Love, Karen Essex’s imaginative retelling of a timeless classic.


London, 1890. Mina Murray Harker, the rosy-cheeked, quintessentially pure Victorian heroine, becomes Count Dracula’s object of desire. To preserve her chastity, five male “defenders” rush in to rescue her from the vampire’s evil clutches. This is the story we have been told. But now, from Mina’s own pen, we discover a tale more sensual, more devious, and more enthralling than the Victorians could have ever imagined. From the shadowy banks of the river Thames to the wild and windswept Yorkshire coast, Mina vividly recounts the intimate details of what really transpired between her and the Count—the joys and terrors of a passionate affair, as well as her rebellion against her own frightening preternatural powers.

Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. In the prologue, Mina Murray writes, “The truth is we must fear monsters less and be warier of our own kind.”  What “monsters” evoke fear in the book?  Which humans evoke fear? 

2. How does feminism play into Mina’s choices? Miss Hadley’s? Lucy’s? Kate’s?  How are these women similar?  Which of the women do you ultimately consider more liberated?

3. How does Mina evolve throughout the story?  What changes her? Where does she get her true power?  Do you agree with her choices?

4. In some ways, the book is an exploration of free will versus fate. Are there any victims in the story, and why are they victims? To what or whom are they victims?  Do you believe what Dracula says, that a person cannot be made to do something s/he has not chosen on some level?

5. Did Dracula in Love deepen your understanding of the roots of vampirism?

6. Discuss the different elements of vampire folklore in the book (i.e. The Lamia, the story of Lilith, the Sidhe, the ghost tales of Whitby) and the ways in which they have contributed to modern day vampire myths.

7. Victorian ideology and customs are strongly painted in the book. In what ways, does Mina accept them and give in to them? In what ways, does she reject them?

8. How do the vampires differ from vampires in other vampire books, films, and television shows, whether classic or contemporary?

9. Discuss sexuality as it pertains to different characters in the book. (Mina and Jonathan. Mina and the Count. Lucy and Arthur. Lucy and Morris. Mina and John Seward. Jonathan and the Lamia.) 

10. What symptoms and behaviors deemed a patient “insane” in Lindenwood?  How does the characterization of the insane relate to Victorian ideology?

11. In what ways does Dracula in Love reflect the Victorian obsession with Darwin’s theory of evolution and other scientific and medical advancements of the time? What 20th century events does it foreshadow?

12. What are the most poignant ways in which Dracula in Love differs from Bram Stoker’s Dracula?  Do you find one account more credible than the other? 

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About this Author

Karen Essex is the author of Kleopatra, Pharaoh, and the international bestseller Leonardo’s Swans, which won Italy’s prestigious 2007 Premio Roma for foreign fiction. An award-winning journalist and a screenwriter, she lives in Los Angeles, California.
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