ARC Review: A Dowry of Blood

An absolutely gut-wrenching, vivid, and poignant story.

Told in the form of a letter from Constanta to her former love, this story depicts the difficulty of breaking away from an abuser. The tale follows Dracula (who is addressed as “you,” but never actually named) and his three partners: Constanta, Magdalena, and Alexi. What at first seems to be a dreamy love quickly turns into something more sinister, ensnaring the four in a bond that can only be broken through death.

Wow, this was a heavy read. I usually put my content warnings at the end, but this definitely isn’t the book for you if you are sensitive to topics like manipulation and domestic abuse. With that being said, it was so, so powerful. I really loved that the book was in letter form, as it gave Constanta the ability to never name her abuser. Too often when these stories are told, people remember the name of the perpetrator, not the victims. It felt like not naming him took away that much more of his power.

I immediately fell in love with the three protagonists, and at times I wanted to just wrap them all up in a giant hug. The build up from the initial seemingly harmless love to an absolutely controlling toxicity was done so deftly and slowly that you really felt like you were there with the characters (hence why I say be very careful in choosing to pick this book up). You really did fall for Dracula at the beginning, getting pulled into his charm. It was heartbreaking to see when he began to manipulate Constanta, to feel her struggle to pull away only when she realized she was in too deep.

I also think this has a really powerful message about reclaiming your power, about being worthy of a love that isn’t suffocating. Although it is very heavy throughout, that weight is lifted at the end. I think it will resonate with many.

It did take me a while to get into the writing, as it was more formal and gothic. However, once I got farther into the book I absolutely couldn’t put it down. The descriptions and metaphors were gorgeous, and it flowed so nicely that the book went very fast (plus it didn’t hurt that it was only about 200 pages). I would definitely recommend this book for the pretty writing alone!

Rating: 4/5
Intended audience: Adult
Content warnings: manipulation, domestic abuse, murder
Pacing: medium-fast

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19 thoughts on “ARC Review: A Dowry of Blood

  1. I love your commentary on how Dracula is only addressed as “you” in the book, and how that brings to light how an abuser is more frequently remembered than the victims of that abuse. Your review was really insightful; great job! I definitely need to pick this up.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review! You are so right about not naming the abuser taking away some of their “power” and giving more recognition to the victims. I have always had an odd fascination with the Jack the Ripper cases and recently I read The Five by Hailie Rubenhold and it focuses only on the lives of the victims. Almost no attention at all is given to Jack and it really gave me a whole new perspective on those cases and the victims as people instead of just names to glance at while reading about the criminal.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I recently read a couple of Dracula inspired books and am in the process of writing reviews—this sounds so different from either of them that I might just have to pick it up. I feel like the tendency is romanticize/justify Dracula in more recent pop culture so I would be ready to read him as the actual villain again. Good review!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. An excellent point about the impact of of whose name is shared! It’s been a while since I read Dracula, and while I remember that he went after several women, I realized after reading your review that I don’t remember their names. It is indeed a powerful move to take these women and put their names–and not his–in the spotlight.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This was a lovely review! I will say I have a fascination with darker stories and always feel captivated by heavier themes. I’ll be adding this to my reading list.

    Like

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