Friday, July 3, 2009

Deconstructing Dracula by HMonster04

This week's Perv Pack Recommendation is...

Title: Deconstructing Dracula
Author: HMonster04
Chapters: 31
Words: 107,385
Reviews: 4,164
Summary: Fear, insecurity. They manifest themselves in different ways. An opportunity to spend 6 months in London working on a dissertation sets the wheels of fate in motion, radically changing the lives of 4 people in ways they never would have expected. AU/AH.

Our Guest Reviewer is

Having been a follower of HMonster4 (Heather) since the early days of What You Thought You Knew and being the self-proclaimed number one dork fan of the wonderful Breakfast at Tiffany’s, her collaboration with Profmom72, I was extremely enthusiastic when Heather announced a new solo effort that was unlike anything she had done before. When she mentioned that the visual inspiration for her imagined Edward was the gothic dream sequence from the Twilight movie, I could barely contain my anticipation. When she started dropping hints about the new story - that it was set in London, that Edward would be a Brit - I was sold. Ever since, Deconstructing Dracula has been at the top of my ‘drop everything to read’ list.

The story begins with Bella, a meek PhD student working on her dissertation on Bram Stoker’s Dracula and stuck in an uninspiring relationship with Mike Newton. In her own words:

“I had a predictable life. A dependable boyfriend. An insignificant course in life plotted out. Nothing left to chance.

And not a lot to get excited about either.”

Bella spends her days in a world of books, using their excitement and intrigue to supplement the lack of any in her own life. When an opportunity arises for her to finish her dissertation in London she is introduced to a number of characters who not only shake up her once boring existence but start her on a road to self-discovery that would otherwise have passed her by.

Foremost of these characters, of course, is Edward. From their first meeting he seems intent on baiting Bella, lighting a spark in her which we haven’t seen before – his actions drive her, and the reader, to distraction. He has his own mystery and his motives for acting this way are revealed over time. Whenever they meet he provokes her into an argument or gets her worked up – either through fleeting physical contact or mere innuendo – only to leave her frustrated. Herein lies one of the most enticing aspects of DD – the UST is off the charts! I have never before read a fic which has literally left me breathless at the end of a chapter. If you enjoy being toyed with in this way this is the fic for you.

The prologue begins with a dictionary definition of ‘Vampire’:

1: the reanimated body of a dead person believed to come from the grave at night and suck the blood of persons asleep
2 a: one who lives by preying on others
b: a woman who exploits and ruins her lover

Of course, the first description is the basis of the novel which Bella is researching but both parts of the second description come into play time and again throughout the story – not only for Bella but also for Rose, Bella’s closest friend, who continues to see two men at once even though one is obviously far superior in every way.

Both Bella’s and Rose’s behaviour provide an interesting parallel to the story of Dracula, the characters of Mina and Lucy and the Angel/Whore argument which is central to Bella’s dissertation (although knowing the novel is in no way necessary to enjoy this fic, Heather has thoughtfully provided a summary on her author page for anyone who is interested).
Another parallel to the novel is the format which Heather has used. The central story is told from Bella’s perspective but is supplemented by shorter ‘chapters’ from other perspectives which either fill in the blanks, provide backstory or progress secondary storylines, all employing different formats – letters, journal entries, gChat exchanges. I think this is ingenious and find it really keeps the story fresh and avoids any hitch in momentum.

With Deconstructing Dracula, Heather negotiates the often cliché ridden minefield of Twific like a seasoned professional. Rosalie is Bella’s best friend and stalwart supporter; Emmett is not a cardboard cut-out dumb jock (he may, in fact, be the best Emmett ever written) and Alice is not a shrill, vibrating shopaholic. Very early on one of Heather’s teases on the DD thread at Twilighted was the short quote: “Excuse me, darlin.’” He took on an affected southern accent at the pronunciation of the word darling. Of course, to the last person everyone agreed that this must be the highly anticipated arrival of Jasper. We were mistaken. This is a good opportunity to warn visitors to the DD thread that Heather is both the best and worst tease in the Twificverse – be grateful for the fast pace of updates because otherwise it would be pure torture.

Speaking of clichés, let’s talk about sex. In preparation for writing this review I undertook the onerous task of re-reading (nine or ten times) the lemony chapters included so far. Now, I am not a writer and I certainly don’t mean to offend when I observe that there are a number of descriptive phrases that have become all too common in lemons – you know the ones I’m talking about – and no doubt these are favoured by writers with good reason. To the reader’s advantage the lemons in DD avoid the use of any of these and, in my opinion, make for a much more satisfying (and definitely not safe for work) resolution of that UST I was talking about. As an example, a visit to the London Zoological Gardens where clothing was left virtually intact left me resembling a pile of smoking ashes while attempting to read on the sly at work.

In the end though, the strength of Deconstructing Dracula and Heather’s writing in general is how relatable it is. It’s all about shades of grey – there are no cartoon characters here - Bella might be meek but she is no angel; Rose might play the field but she isn’t a whore and Mike’s not the ideal boyfriend but he isn’t unfaithful or abusive, just an insensitive, unsupportive jerk and a bit of a wanker. Edward is still smoking hot though, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Bri ~
Over the last however long, I'd heard so many people go on and on about DD and what a great read it was. But, I rarely (if ever) start fics unless they have a good solid amount for me to read, and so I never started DD. But, once I saw it was going to be reviewed on the PPSS, I figured I'd better get a move on!

So, I delved into DD and was entranced from the beginning with the maturity of this fic. I loved Emmett from the get-go (Heather says it was her goal to make us love him and she did a great job), but I also enjoyed reading about the other characters as mature adults rather than teenagers, or even young adults trudging their way through inane situations.The plot of this fic is unusual - unlike anything else out there - and it helps draw the reader in to find out what's going on. Heather creates a great path for Bella and Edward, as well as composing relationships around them to sort of support their foundation. The UST is fuckhot and no one was as ready as I was for their first night of sexin'. We got just a teensy taste into the lovin' and then it all had to come crashing down.

Dun, dun, dun...I'm not gonna lie, Heather lost me about halfway through the story - chapters 18-23ish (give or take a few) felt a bit repetitive in their contents. I just wanted to move forward with the story and I felt as though I was reading the same thing during that time. But, just when I was getting frustrated, she came in with chapter 25 and I was hooked - what took me several days to get through the previous chapters, I read the most current 7 in an hour or two. Heather had me hooked again, and though I would LOVE to spill all the secrets, I don't want to give too much away. I will say, though, that we get more B/E sexy times, and we get D-R-A-M-A!! And, I'm going to give this two ratings, cause I can.

I would say this is much more plot heavy with an itty-bitty dash of smut, so the sexy times get 3.5/5 panties. The storyline and plot? 4/5 from me. :)

Emmy ~ As per I have Nina to thank for turning me on to this dynamite fic. "Emmy you will LOVE it" - oh so right!!!

*******SPOILERS IN HERE MY DARLINGS*************

I adore Heather's writing. I was hooked instantly. Instantly. Its mysterious and very subtle. Her characters are so well developed. Her characterisation is perfect. No cliche's here. I think Heather's love of Emmett is well renowned. He is normally my least favourite Twi character - as I find him normally to be quite 2dimensional in scope. Not here. Not Heather's Emmett. He is unusually well developed - its a rounded characterisation. Interesting, with layers. His connection and potential relationship with Bella is believable: His friendship with her is magnificent. Rosalie? I love how Heather writes the relationship between Rosalie & Bella. Its convincing. Its real. They sometimes overstep the mark and infuriate each other,pushing each others buttons - in the way that only best friends can. Rosalie & Emmett? Their relationships, or the stages of their relationship are again brilliantly conceived and executed. Although they are only supporting cast - this could be their story... Could be - but its not. Its Bella & Edwards..

God Edward. He is magnificent in this. Mysteriously dark (as in unknown) and deliciously debonair. Flawed and although in appearance initially composed and assured beyond compare, he is actually in turmoil... (remarkably canon in that sense). & Heather casting Edward as British. Yes pleassssssse.

As a Brit I was delighted in how accurate and spot on her Briticism's are. Down to the correct chocolate - & her London.Spot-on & fabulous! :) It pleased me no end to not have a great scene spoilt by errors and grating inaccuracies! So bravo from the Brit, Heather! :) But back to Vladward. I adore how you layered and twisted and buried Edward's personality... Its a masterclass in characterisation. & His chemistry with Bella? Dear god. Ung!ST by the shed load.
I read most of this fic in a tingly, state as the tension built.. I mentioned before that Heather's writing is beautifully subtle. It really is. With some of the Bella/Edward seduction scenes being a masterclass in subtlety.. The scene with her changing gears (shift stick for you yanks!) left me breathless. The scene at London zoo? Cripes! (maybe more so as I know the Zoo well?) and then once the action moves to Whitby. How Heather uses the symbolism of the landscape to mirror and amplify their emotions. I was swept away. When Edward appears? My heart was in my throat! And how Heather uses the British weather? Ata girl...

To me the theme of this fic is regeneration. The obvious regeneration of Bella into who she wants to be & who she was meant to be. The regeneration of both Emmett & Rosalie to find what they need from life. & the regeneration of Edward. How Bella regenerates him. How he wants to regenerate her, restore her and as we leave the story as is, we don't know if he can. He is powerless to do so medically, but can his words from his heart and soul, from throughout their connection and tumultuous time together give her what she needs for now & the future? Help her make her choices? All VladWard wants to do is restore, make amends, make it right... With his blood if he could, which is why the irony of finding her bloodied the way she was is a sad torture and a genius invention of Heathers...

So back to the smut. I know you are thirsty for the Lemonade like Emmy here... :)
~ Its deliciously tart and sweet but not all that fizzy. Its not graphic or gratuitous but is intense and slowburning.. The type of burn that starts off in your mind and then heart, gathering momentum as it pulses through you like blood through your veins and then spreads through your tummy and ends up in a toe curl, back arch, and a hair toss with a major afterglow.
I cannot recc this delight enough. I could wax lyrical for ever more about this and Heather. Instead I just want to read it again. :) BUT GO READ IT!

If you want an intelligent beautiful story, pulsing with life-blood and UST this is the story for you. Heather is a goddess of words and weaves a fabbio tale. I am officially in love.

5 very pretty knickers from Liberty's of London (as I just KNOW VladWard would purchase them there for Bella) out of 5. :*

Emily- Well I have to say that I was pleasantly blown away by this fic! I am new to HMonster4's writing and holy hell she can write her ass off. The character development, the interesting plot and fresh take on the meaning of vampire that I have not seen in twific all make for a compelling read. The format of the story being delivered from Bella's POV as well as the chat logs, emails and journal entries make me feel like I am truly peeking into the characters lives and not just reading a story.

I love Emmett and Bella's easy friendship and how they defend and take care of each other. The UST with Bella and Edward is out of control and I can feel the tension oozing from my monitor. The scene in the car at the zoo had me squirming and thinking that I need to recreate that with a hot boy in honor of DD. This is a story with plot and one that I would read even without the smut. Now the smut is lovely and in relatively (compared to other fics recommended here) small doses but it works with the story and more would seem out of place in the flow and pacing of this great fic. I am now inspired to dust of my own copy of Dracula and re-read it with new eyes. 4.5/5 for me!

Hope-Hmmm...How do I talk about Deconstructing Dracula without giving away or destroying the air of mystery that surrounds it? There is a definite air of mystery surrounding this story in the beginning. Many questions are brought to mind and there is a Gothic feel to the story. The setting of London with its grey cloudy skies, a light mist permeates the air shrouding the story with a hazy slightly out of focus feeling. The characters are drawn into a series of encounters and relationships that mirror those of Dracula that Bella is studying and dissecting.

This story is told almost entirely from Bella's pov with the occasional glimpse of an alternative pov told through emails, gchat, letters and journal entries. With these 'alternative' pov we get a glimpse into the other characters mindset without taking away from the main storyline. I am a big fan of this style so the occasional correspondence chapter interspersed within the story was delightful and broke up the sometimes heavy tone of the story. Okay, maybe heavy isn't the right word; serious or deep contemplative would be better suited. Don't get me wrong I abso-fucking-lutely love this story, love it.

In DD Bella is working on her dissertation to receive her Ph.D. in Literature. She chooses "Dracula" and Sexuality and Choices of the characters within it. Bella is in a completely unsatisfying relationship with one Mike Newton. It's not that Mike is a bad guy he just is kinda obtuse when it comes to Bella. He's planned out their entire life without consulting or taking her goals into mind. Well, Bella kind gets feed up and in a completely un-Bella like moves leaves his loser ass. Go Bella, she is then offered the opportunity to go to London with her bestie Rose for 6 months to work on her dissertation and get to explore the actual haunts of the book. Rose sees it as an opportunity for her to break out of her shell, become the un-vanilla Bella that she knows is in her.

So after not much deliberation they find themselves transcontinental and in London. The girls each meet someone of interest before even leaving the airport, lucky birds. Someone's that might make their London adventure a little bit more exciting. Rose sets to work, having run-ins with the "Redneck" that infuriates her and riles her up. Bella sets to work on her dissertation, meeting Dr. Whitlock, his wife Alice and her brother Edward.

Edward or Vladward instantly puts her on edge, pushing her buttons and stirring something primal and physical within her. She has never had this visceral of a reaction to anyone before. She doesn't know whether to "Slap him or Shag him", wanting to do both on equally. The tease and torment each other in mental foreplay that Bella doesn't realize as foreplay.

Vladward has his secrets and aloofness, remaining a mystery to Bella for quite some time. Edward is…well he’s an enigma of sorts. He’s romantic and infuriating and gets immense pleasure in getting a rise out of Bella. He’s kind and loyal and fierce and intense. He challenges and confuses Bella, leaving her feeling as if she’s standing on uneven ground. Bella in the beginning never gets and accurate read on him. It’s not until later that she discovers the real Edward while she discovers the real Bella.

The interactions and encounters between Bella and Edward are intense to say the least. The tension between the two is palpable and makes us lean towards the computer screen and sit on the edge of our seat as Edward befuddles and confuses Bella while turning her on just to leave her (and us) hanging. The UST is off the fucking charts here. I am a fan of the UST and this is one of the best portrayals of it I have ever seen. Just ung.

Okay, back to the story for a bit before I talk about the smex. Edward and Bella circle each other for awhile, before giving in. Something goes wrong afterwards and there is a big misunderstanding and you wonder if they will ever work it out. If they do or not...I'm not saying. You'll have to read it for yourself to find that out. While Edward and Bella are on the outs Bella finally makes headway on her stalled dissertation thanks in part to Edward, she takes a different approach that wouldn't have occurred to her if not for Edward.

The progress of Bella's dissertation and the progress of her becoming this "New" or more the inner Bella follow the same path and parallel each other. Just as the Twilight characters and resemble and follow the paths of their Dracula counterparts. H has done a clever thing here. She’s taken the characters in one book and allowed them to follow paths of a different book. That’s not to say that his is Dracula with Twilight characters, it’s not in the slightest. The influence is there and helps to drive the story.

There’s some other events that happen that I can’t really talk about without spoiling the story, but let’s just say there is an enchanting English Inn run by Esme and Carlisle (so happy to see C&E not in parental roles), an assault on two of the characters, a love triangle and bedside vigil.

Alrighty let’s talk about the smut. The smut is awesome, plain and simple. It’s not very graphic and the balance between the physical, mental and emotional is spot on. It’s intense to say the least, just like the relationship and connection that Edward and Bella feel.

Their first ‘kiss’ is in a dark alley where Edward kisses and licks her neck. And Holy Hot Fuck is it hot and it’s a simple small lick on the neck, but it rocks Bella and us to our core. Then there’s the stick-shift incident, trust me you’ll know what I’m talking about when you read. The reptile house at the zoo and then in the Aston-Martin. Just…umm…yeah. There’s muddy Emmett and Edward at the rugby match that have Bella and Rose all atwitter.

To sum up, this Bella and Edward compliment and complete each other in a way I haven’t yet seen in ff before. The challenge and push and inspire each other to be what they really are without any pretenses or hidden agendas. The love between them is intense and real and the forever kind, that’s if they can get over their own pasts and insecurities.

All of this is interwoven together and played out before our eyes in a beautiful way. I love H’s narrative and writing style. I definite read for everyone in my opinion. 4.5 out of 5 knickers for moi.

Kasey - Holy schmoley. Where have I been that I hadn't ever read any of HMonster4's stories before? This is my first go at her writing and I'm already hooked. From her sexy-as-hades, dominant Edward to just the general feel of her characters (and their development) as a whole. This story has the makings of an exceptionally good read. And let me tell you, I'm not even half-way through reading it, but simply couldn't NOT rec it. So thanks, PP-pals for hooking a girl up. I'm already pretty caught up in it and loving it.

Kathy - Deconstructing Dracula begins with a mysterious prologue. What is it Bella is deciding? She's having thoughts about her life spinning so far out of control, and losing her way... wtf is going on? So, we move on. Chapter 1 fills in some gaps; we find out Bella's dissertation topic, more about her life and who she is. We get introduced to Rose, Emmett, Jasper, Alice and Edward in short order and begin to find out details about each of them. Chapter 3 has some interesting turns of events: we see more of Edward, we meet Royce.

The mystery cranks up a notch with Edward's first journal entry between chapter 4 and 5. There's an interesting twist on canon here, where Bella is the one that pulls herself away from Edward. Chapter 18 brought the tears; what would a review from me be without them? In Chapter 25, Bella has a fabulous “ah ha” moment that Oprah would be proud of. I also totally bawled at the end of that chapter. I love the way Emmett and Rose are also essentially main characters in this story.

I am rooting for them and it's a good side plot that allows the focus not to just be solely on Edward and Bella (I know, some of you are ready to burn me at the stake for that thought).Chapter 27 is a quintessential chapter that I love; they learn more about each other, in every way. It's written perfectly, too. The balance of spoken words, physical moments and the quite space between was just beautiful and perfect. 28 brought more tears, and I fell even deeper in love with these character, if that was possible. We're left on a bit of a cliffie where the story is right now, and I can't wait to find out how this will turn out! 4 out of 5 panties

Miya - I read this in two sittings, one of them being from 3-6 am while holding a screaming 14 month old who refused to sleep. It took me a few chapters to get into this. It really felt like the chapters taking place in the US were very Dorothy in Kansas~ish. Then arriving in London/Oz turned the world into technicolor. Maybe it was intentional, perhaps it was just that I finally found something to get me hooked.In all of the character development, I find Emmett to be my favorite. He is very much larger than life, happy, outgoing, loving, and loyal to fault- but he also has a heart as big as his personality and it is easily hurt. I found myself growing more and more interested in Emmett and Rose's relationship than Edward and Bella's. I'm normally not a fan of Em/R stories but this one is just amazing to watch them dance around each other and learn to admit their feelings. I think the story could have had two great ending points already- one when they finally admit their feelings, and then again after she hit her head. I almost think for the storyline, having changed her life for the better and then dying from the head wound would have been fitting. However, I can't wait to see where it goes from here. The UST is off the charts. I actually preferred the UST to the smut and give the story a 3/5 for lemony goodness and 4/5 for story.

Nina- I have a siggy block that Lucy made for me that says, "Hi, I'm Nina, H's bitch."

That pretty much sums up my love for Heather and Vladward. For the record, he's now occupying the top spot on my 'Edward I want in my pants STAT' list. Good thing he's a doctor.

DD is one of those stories that gets under your skin from the get-go and makes you crave updates. I'll admit that when this fic first started, I had no fucking clue what to expect, especially since it was Heather as the author.

Okay, so the story. Bella is researching in London for her dissertation on Bram Stoker's Dracula. Thanks to Rose, Bella is able to travel to England, and meet Emmett and they share some bubbling hot, crackling passionate sex on the plane. Okay, I'm just fucking with you but seriously. H's Emmetts are some of the hottest around. He's written in a way that would have even me accept him nailing the whole plane full of passengers, the flight attendants and have a slashy relationship with the pilots.

Back to the serious. Emmett is also en route to London for business and they do truthfully have some serious chemistry (that they take on a test run later, wink wink). So that begs the question, if Heather is able to write Emmett and Bella with a heavy dose of UST how the hale is she going to pull it off when it comes down to Vladward and Bella.

Fuck me running. Not only does she provide enough UST to cause a pantysplosion heard around the fucking world but it's constant to boot. From day one at their meeting, they're practically on fire with want for each other. They may not know that's what it is, and they may steadfastly deny the unbridled lust between them but honey, it's there. I say it all the time, UST is hard to pull off and not be cheesy, or a cliche or worse yet, poorly done.

Heather's provides such an unbelievable push/pull relationship between them that you're sitting on the edge of your seat and leaning into the fucking screen. I'm not kidding. UST is DD is off the charts.

Now, I can drone on all day about that (I've been known to do it trust me) but there are key points that need to be brought up, I'll keep them vague but honestly, read it, enjoy it, and thank Heather in the morning.

The zoo chapter-Mother fucker. The snake exhibit, the rain, the car, THE CAR, THE CAR, THE FUCKING CAR!!!

The chapters at Whitby. Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Vlad, Bram, Kool and the Gang, Rob and Kellan.

Their reunion, that parallels New Moon beautifully I might add, is fucking hot (and EnglishVladward has a tattoo). Wow, it's astounding how fanastic that lemon was. It wasn't overt in it's description, but that DOESN'T in anyway take away from it. Instead the lyrical words and phrases she used enhances it and it fits the story. They're not crass and lewd characters so for the sex to match their personalities is a fantastic touch.

That leads me to something else that I failed to mention. Vladward's one-liners. There are quite a few short, simple, meltingly hot sentences that he uses that make you cross your legs and try and compose yourself (or at least try to).

I'm not exaggerating in the least it, that Heather and Vladward pwn me, long and hard.

No panty rating because you shouldn't wear them around Vladward.

In addition to our Round Table Review above, we've also asked the author to share a bit about herself...


I thought I had arrived when I was asked to write a guest review for Good Bella, Bad Bella. But to get my own? To quote my email to Nina?

get the fuck out!


holy shit

wow wow damn just wow... I’m still in shock.

Little old me, a PPSS rec? Dayum. Does it make it even worse that I am writing this as I watch my five year old play baseball? I told them mom next to me that I am ‘working on a project for work.’ Right…. So this is where I supposed to give you all the pertinent info. Jeez, talk a about performance anxiety. A virginal Edward biting feather pillows was more relaxed. Ok, well, not true, but you get my point.

The vitals. I’m 37. Ed-u-ma-cated. Wife of a blonde Emmett, mother of a blonde mini-Emmett. Have a lovely job where I get paid to tell VP’s and CMO’s how to get consumers to spend more in their stores. I got hooked in on ff in August last year after demolishing the first three books in three days, then sucking it up for a week to read the fourth. After the frustration of fade to black and the potential for undeveloped character, I started nosing around, and by fluke, tripped across fan fiction. Prior to Twilight, I’d never even heard a peep about fan fiction, so the entire concept was foreign to me.

Like most, I started with canon, then delved into AU. My first AU/AH fic, Texbelle’s Restoration, sucked me in. Not only did I fall in love with AH, I found the joy that is twilighted. For a few months I read and participated in forums. Fabulous authors like Tex and Gemmabobella provided me the inspiration to start kicking the tires and dust off the old creative spirit. So, for the first time since college, I dusted off the creative thoughts. After years of business writing, it was intimidating, but the characters were so fascinating, I dove in.

With the help of a fabulous beta – who was ended up being a wonderful friend, I cranked out my first fic, What You Though You Knew. Three Fourths of the way through, ProfMom72 and I wrote a one shot for Manyafandom’s Valentines Day contest that took on a life of its own. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (aka BaT) just wrapped up 31 chapters of glory a few weeks ago. As much as I loved BaT – There was an edge lurking below the surface. That’s where DD was formed. I adore romance, and can put most SAP writers to shame (don’t believe me? Go read chapter 9 of WYTYK or ask Nina.). The optimism and sweetness of BaT left me wanting to push myself as a writer. Out of that, DD was born. When I started DD – I had no clue what to expect. It was much darker, edgier than my normal stuff. I wanted to play with the concept of ‘vampire’ and push the envelope so to speak. I wanted to create dominant male characters that made you melt for different reasons; emotional, sexual, intellectual. I wanted to skewer the archetypes and show the flaws. And admittedly, I wanted to make everyone fall in love with Emmett. I am transparent that way.

The running joke with ProfMom and is that I need glass or two of wine to write a lemon. Okay, truth be told, when I wrote my first fic, it was more like a bottle of wine. But writing a lemon, massive UST, or an Em with hot forearms has nothing on writing a bio for the PPSS.

I might need a cold shower when this is all over. With an Emmett to scrub my back ;)


Maria Fernandez said...

hey! do you know where can i reed Deconstructing Dracula? thnks

Jeanne said...

You can try to the Twilight Fan Fiction Database. Or email us at and we can try to get you a link. ;)