I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.
I’m a sucker for a vampire story. (A good vampire story.) I’m fascinated about the good and evil component, I love seeing how everyone interprets it. We all come from a common point in the past, but it’s gone in so many different directions. It’s not often that I see someone going all the way back to the original to start peeking at the story again. A few years back, a friend from college wrote a musical rendition of Dracula called THE DEAD ENGLISH, and I loved it. It rekindled my fascination with Dracula and all things about it. There was so much more to the story–to the true, proper story of Dracula–that I’d forgotten, or hadn’t read. (I’m still not sure how much of the original book I’ve read.)
So when this book wandered into my life, how could I possibly pass up an opportunity to see one more imagining?
It’s not a retelling of Dracula so much as it is a new idea of what might have happened before the incidents we see in Stoker’s book. Goffigan focuses on Mina Murray, the woman who we would eventually know as Mina Harker, Jonathan’s wife. The book begins with Jonathan’s abduction to Dracula’s castle, and proceeds from there. However, Goffigan takes her own take on the tale and the characters, and winds them through a world of mystery and intrigue that makes Mina wonder just how much about the world she doesn’t know…and what all has been hidden from her by her family.
The story builds a fascinating background for the character of Mina, one that isn’t really touched on in the original novel. (At least in my research, I can’t find any evidence of it, so I’m assuming it’s the author’s creation–and that’s totally fine!) We see how her family has woven through all the mythology, a past with the infamous Doctor Van Helsing, and all in all Mina becomes a vivid and powerful woman–without losing the reality of being human. It’s easy when you’re trying to ensure someone is a Strong Independent Woman, that you let them slip into a world of complete stoicism and brooding. Even the strongest people break down. Everyone has a weakness. And we see Mina’s weaknesses–her frustration with them, and how she moves to overcome them. Sometimes she’s successful. Others she isn’t. (Gabriel comes to mind–a name that confused the heck out of me, given the usage of the name in the movie Van Helsing!)
It does suffer a little from “first book syndrome,” in that there is a lot of exposition, and there’s some action that also works as exposition, but by the time we actually get to the meat of what the group is trying to do… TO BE CONTINUED IN BOOK TWO. Sigh. Luckily, BEAST OF LONDON has enough intrigue and action of its own to keep you interested and engaged, and I’m certainly willing to put the future books of the Mina Murray series onto my TBR. But it does prove a little irritating. (Also, on a smaller note: there is a period of the book where Mina goes from a beige traveling dress, to a tan one, to a brown one. Does this woman only wear shades of brown? I might not have noticed it, but they’re all within probably 50-75 pages of each other. It became pretty comical.)
All in all, a fascinating look at the characters in Dracula, and a new and interesting to follow and see what Goffigan has in store for all of us.
Rating: **** (Recommended)
THE BEAST OF LONDON hit shelves April 17th, 2017.