REVIEW #79 | A DOWRY OF BLOOD by S.T. Gibson (eARC)

Review: "A Dowry of Blood" by S.T. Gibson
Review: “A Dowry of Blood” by S.T. Gibson
A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson
A Dowry of Blood – S.T. Gibson

Title: A Dowry of Blood

Author: S.T. Gibson

Series or Standalone?: Standalone

Pub. Date: 31 January 2021

Synopsis (via StoryGraph):

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.

Trigger/Content warnings:

  • fantasy/supernatural violence
  • blood
  • gore
  • incest (mention)
  • emotional and psychological abuse
  • physical abuse (minor)
  • character death
  • self-harm
  • depressive symptoms

Representation:

  • bisexual MCs
  • m/f/f/m relationship (but let’s be real…the f/f/m relationship is better)

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
5/5 stars

*I received an eARC in exchange for an honest review*

This is my second gothic horror novel — and my first S.T. Gibson book — and let me tell you, it won’t be my last for either of those things!

A Dowry of Blood follows a young woman renamed Constanta, who is turned into a vampire by an unnamed man (but who the reader understands to be Dracula), throughout centuries as she lives and travels with said sire. The story is told as a series of letters/diary entries written by Constanta to the lord who created her after the events have occurred.

So I’ve never read a Dracula re-telling (or anything related to Dracula, tbh), mostly because I wasn’t a huge fan of Dracula when I first read it. However, when I saw that A Dowry of Blood was a polyam book centered around the vampire partners of Dracula, I decided that I had to request an ARC from the publisher. And uhh I loved it. It was so good, omg.

The characters! Are amazing! Constanta is a wonderful narrator, and it was really interesting to see her development throughout the story. Her relationship with the other partners, Magdalena and Alexi, was amazing, and I loved seeing the subtle differences in how Constanta interacts with the two of them and vice versa.

At this point, I do want to point out that while the relationship between Constanta, Magdalena, and Alexi isn’t abusive, their relationship with Dracula is. Amongst other things, A Dowry of Blood is a study of an emotionally and psychologically abusive relationship (at some points, it is physically abusive, but it isn’t graphic or often). It starts from the moment Constanta is turned and it doesn’t stop until the (very tense, very “grips you and never lets go”) climax. I thought the exploration was done wonderfully, with extra care given since the subject matter is sensitive. But if the depiction of an abusive relationship can be triggering for you, it’d probably be a good idea to keep that in mind if you make the decision to read this.

With that being said, though, the writing was gorgeous. It’s dark and loving and amazing all at the same time, and I know that seems overwhelming to some people but I swear it makes sense when you read it, lol. It’s just…so pretty. So good. It was very easy to read, especially once Magdalena and Alexi get introduced. And that climax? I know I mentioned it before, but that was probably one of the best climaxes (and build up to said climax) I’ve ever read. I even had to put the book down for a time because I was getting so worried over the trio.

I just had such a wonderful reading experience with this book, and if it sounds like something you’d be interested in (even if it’s outside your reading comfort zone, like it was for me!), I would highly recommend it. I can’t wait to see what S.T. Gibson does next!

Kait | sixcrowsbooks
Kait | sixcrowsbooks

Feel free to connect with me!

Twitter

StoryGraph

Wanna tip me? Here’s how!

Ko-fi

Venmo: xxksedxx

REVIEW #70 | THE SUN DOWN MOTEL by Simone St. James (Mini Review)

The Sun Down Motel

Title: The Sun Down Motel

Author: Simone St. James

Series or Standalone?: Standalone

Pub. Date: 18 February 2020

Synopsis:

The secrets lurking in a rundown roadside motel ensnare a young woman, just as they did her aunt thirty-five years before, in this new atmospheric suspense novel from the national bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate NY, 1982. Every small town like Fell, New York, has a place like the Sun Down Motel. Some customers are from out of town, passing through on their way to someplace better. Some are locals, trying to hide their secrets. Viv Delaney works as the night clerk to pay for her move to New York City. But something isn’t right at the Sun Down, and before long she’s determined to uncover all of the secrets hidden…

Trigger/Content warnings:

  • death
  • murder
  • blood and gore
  • rape/sexual assault (not graphic)

Representation:

  • Black woman side character

⭐⭐⭐⭐ .5
4.5/5 stars

  • when Carly’s mother passes away, she decides to move to New York to figure out her aunt’s murder/disappearance. She ends up working at the same motel her aunt did right before she went missing; cue the haunted motel vibes
  • it was more mystery than horror, but I didn’t mind all that much (and I usually don’t read mysteries)
  • but dear lord, the romance was….not needed. I didn’t care for it one bit and thought that there wasn’t a huge connection between the MC and the LI
  • I really liked the ending, though! I thought it was a great twist, and I didn’t see it coming (but I like to think I’m pretty easy to please when it comes to plot twists, lol)
  • I don’t remember a ton about the characters (the horror of writing a review a month after reading the book), but I remember being invested in Viv (Carly’s aunt) and Carly’s stories and how they ended; I wasn’t let down in that regard
  • do keep in mind that there’s some anti-ace sentiment near the end of the book, where a character mentions that girls “have to have” sex at some point, which…nah. They don’t. Not everyone needs or wants to have sex
  • anyway, overall, I was pretty happy with this book, and I may look into the author’s other works

Feel free to follow me!

Twitter

Goodreads

Want to support me? Here’s how!

Ko-fi

REVIEW #69 | THE STRAIN by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan (The Strain Trilogy #1) (Mini Review) (Audiobook)

The Strain (The Strain Trilogy, #1)

Title: The Strain

Authors: Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

Series or Standalone?: The Strain Trilogy #1

Pub. Date: 2 June 2009

Synopsis:

A Boeing 777 arrives at JFK and is on its way across the tarmac, when it suddenly stops dead. All window shades are pulled down. All lights are out. All communication channels have gone quiet. Crews on the ground are lost for answers, but an alert goes out to the CDC. Dr. Ephraim “Eph” Goodweather, head of their Canary project, a rapid-response team that investigates biological threats, gets the call and boards the plane. What he finds makes his blood run cold.

In a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem, a former professor and survivor of the Holocaust named Abraham Setrakian knows something is happening. And he knows the time has come, that a war is brewing.

So begins a battle of mammoth proportions as the vampiric virus that has infected New York begins to spill out into the streets. Eph, who is joined by Setrakian and a motley crew of fighters, must now find a way to stop the contagion and save his city – a city that includes his wife and son – before it is too late.

Trigger/Content warnings:

  • blood and gore
  • brief POV from an abusive parent
  • fat antagonism
  • animal death (pet dog)
  • racism and xenophobia
  • abuse
  • animal abuse
  • character death
  • infant and child death
  • suicide

Representation:

  • Mexican-American Latinx man
  • Jewish Romanian man
  • Haitian woman (small role, not a major character)

⭐⭐⭐ .5
3.5/5 stars

  • when a deadly virus breaks out in the United States, CDC scientist Eph has to figure out how to stop it. Problem is, it’s not just a simple virus — it’s something older, something darker
  • it was entertaining for the most part: it didn’t blow me away, but it wasn’t atrocious. It kept me mostly engaged, and I do want to see where the rest of the trilogy goes
  • the characters were kinda boring, though, and I didn’t particularly connect with anyone. They were all pretty dry, to me, though there were a few that popped out
  • speaking of characters, though, can we talk about how Nora’s (Eph’s co-worker/maybe partner in the future, who knows) only role throughout the entire book was to be the damsel in distress love interest for Eph? Because thanks, I hate it. Literally, before the big ol’ boss fight or whatever, she said she just had to stay with Eph’s kid to take care of him. Excuse me, but why couldn’t his actual father stay with him instead? Oh I get it, it’s because we can’t have any characters in this book get shit done if they’re women. For the record, Nora is the only major character in this book who’s a woman. So. That’s cool. I guess
  • anyway, I thought the vampires themselves were pretty cool, and they’re basically the only reason I plan on continuing the series. Everything else is kinda meh

Feel free to follow me!

Twitter

Goodreads

Want to support me? Here’s how!

Ko-fi