Reluctant Immortals

Written by Gwendolyn Kiste
Review by Gail M. Murray

Kiste frames her story around gothic novels from classical literature, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, reimagining the lives of Victorian heroines Lucy Westenra and Bertha Rochester on a road trip in 1967 to counter-culture Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco. Both women died in the original novels, yet Kiste has literally resurrected them from the ashes. Lucy has hidden several urns containing Dracula’s ashes, and his evil spirit is hunting them down.

Both Dracula and Mr. Rochester, depicted as dark romantic heroes in literature, have become abusive husbands. Feminist Lucy, once a delicate and pure female in Victorian society, narrates with a wry tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, welcome amid all the gothic gloom and decay. She reminds me of warrior Sarah Connor in Terminator. The plodding plot turns all action-suspense as Dracula, Mr. Rochester, wolves, and compelled hippie vampires battle it out with our heroines.

This novel is feminist, gothic horror, a bit of a niche genre. For me, Kiste has tampered too much with classic literature. I embraced Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, but that involved creating new characters, dimensions, and characteristics of vampires. Perhaps I’m a purist. I found it difficult to muster the major suspension of disbelief required to immerse myself in this story.