Fairyloot Adult #9: A Dowry of Blood

Originally, Fairyloot’s focus was on Young-Adult Fantasy books, but that changed in 2022 with the launch of their Adult Fantasy Book-Only subscription. As a subscriber to their regular YA subscription, I was given priority to sign up for this new service, and as a book and fantasy enthusiast, I couldn’t resist.

I think this book is the earliest I’ve ever received such a book of the month, because this November book was handed to me half way through November! Otherwise I usually get these boxes at the end of the month/early next month.
The theme for November was Bad Blood and what the book was going to be was already spoiled for me, because there was quite some hype about it online.

Of course I’m talking about A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson, a book that was self-published at first, but that was picked up by a traditional publishing house due to the enormous amount of positive reactions.

The Fairyloot edition comes with an exclusive redesigned cover, which I am a fan of. I think the red border with the beautiful gold frame gives the book a luxurious look, which is somewhat lacking with the standard edition. It really does bring to mind the gothic atmosphere, so I prefer Fairyloots version.

The page edges are also digitally sprayed with a beautiful damask motif, another gothic reminder. However, I do find it strange that this red is combined with blue. I would have found black a more logical choice, based on the dust jacket.

However, the blue is explained once you take the dust jacket off and look at the naked hardcover. It has a full coloured illustration by @warickaart on it, which, if I’m honest, I do not find all that spectacular…

Inside the book also has illustrations by @warickaart as endpapers, which I think are very beautiful and tie in with the lush gothicy feel they are trying to evoke.

Finally, I was rather sad to discover that this book was not signed by the author this time.

In itself this is a nice edition, but I personally wasn’t wowed. But what about the contents of the book?
I’m really trying my best to read these new additions to my bookshelf in a timely manner and actually hope to catch up soon! I finished this one in March, a little over three months after putting it on my bookshelf.

S.T. Gibson – A Dowry of Blood ★★★

Genre: Fantasy (Gothic/Horror)

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.

Overall, I enjoyed reading A Dowry of Blood, but it didn’t exactly blow my socks off and I don’t really understand the obsession there is with this book.

Admittedly, it is well written. Dreamy and lyrical, as the blurb says. It did suck me in from the beginning and intrigued me because of the way our main character tells her story to her husband, rather than to the reader. But this unique twist does fade a bit as the story progresses.

And that story is, well, I can’t help but say a little boring?
Very little happens and what happens is always kept vague and superficial. The whole vampire thing has next to no impact on the story, except that our characters have an unnaturally long lifespan. In retrospect, those vampires and the whole gothic-novel vibe seem more like lures for a fairly banal story about domestic violence.

Unfortunately I don’t really have much more to say about this. A case of style over substance and just a mediocre book for me.