For fans of Mexican Gothic, from three-time Bram Stoker Award–winning author Gwendolyn Kiste comes a novel inspired by the untold stories of forgotten women in classic literature—from Lucy Westnera, a victim of Stoker’s Dracula, and Bertha Mason, Mr. Rochester’s attic-bound wife in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre—as they band together to combat the toxic men bent on destroying their lives, set against the backdrop of the Summer of Love, Haight-Ashbury, 1967.
Reluctant Immortals is a historical horror novel that looks at two men of classic literature, Dracula and Mr. Rochester, and the two women who survived them, Bertha and Lucy, who are now undead immortals residing in Los Angeles in 1967 when Dracula and Rochester make a shocking return in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco.
Combining elements of historical and gothic fiction with a modern perspective, in a tale of love and betrayal and coercion, Reluctant Immortals is the lyrical and harrowing journey of two women from classic literature as they bravely claim their own destiny in a man’s world.
In the meandering, miserable latest from three-time Bram Stoker Award winner Kiste (The Rust Maidens), vampire Lucy Westenra of Dracula, and a mysteriously undead "Bee," Bertha Mason of Jane Eyre, live together in 1967 L.A. until an offensively mischaracterized Jane Eyre, here cowed, beaten down, and in cahoots with evil men, arrives at their doorstep and frees Dracula's remains from the urns in which Lucy has been imprisoning him. Jane then returns to San Francisco and Mr. Rochester, reenvisioned as a cross between Hugh Hefner and Charles Manson, who keeps a harem of barefoot women and forces Jane to join in erotic cult-worship of a revived Dracula. Lucy and Bertha conveniently fall in with a group of hippies as they work to rescue Jane and take down both evil men. The novel attempts to condemn misogynist abuse but delights in and eroticizes its depictions of female victimization, making it feel less daring and nuanced in its depictions of female resistance to gendered cruelty than the 19th-century novels that inspired it. Devotees of Dracula and Jane Eyre will be baffled by Kiste's unrecognizable updates of the characters. For those unfamiliar with the originals, there may be some pleasure in exploring the unrelentingly grim atmosphere Kiste brings to 1960s San Francisco, but others can safely skip this.