Member Reviews

Working as a psychiatrist in London, Mina Murray has a safe, sterile and predictable life. When she receives an alarming email from a long-lost best friend, she embarks on a journey home to discover her friend has fallen ill to a similar plague one of Mina's patients succumbed to. To get to the bottom of what this illness is, Mina will need to relive her past and what happened to her on that fateful night.

The Madness is a psychological and gripping mystery with a fresh take on Dracula. I enjoyed the undercover work led by the main character, Mina Murray, and everything she sacrificed to get there. I loved the folklore aspects mixed in with a modern-day vampire story.

Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin Trade Publishing for this ARC!

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Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Trade Publishing!
This feminist take on the Dracula myth was truly outstanding. Sure, there are still some damsels in distress, but they are being saved by fierce, flawed, female protagonists! Loved this!

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This book was refreshingly unique for a theme that I am seeing a lot of this year.

Mina leaves her psychiatric practice behind when her estranged best friend, Lucy needs her help. Lucy is sick, losing time, sleepwalking and is covered in a horrific rash. Mina starts linking cases and notices that Lucy is experiencing the same symptoms of many young girls who have gone missing and wound-up dead. The problem is that Lucy doesn't fit the profile.

This book in itself felt like a descent into madness. Mina teams up with a person from her past and the mother of one of the missing victims to help solve what was going on.

I don't know if I was slow to catch on or what, but I had no idea where the book was going and did not predict the ending until we got to the plot twist. I thought it was very well written. I don't want to say more because I don't know whether it was meant to be a surprise or whether we were meant to know from the beginning.

Overall, it was a great read.

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I am a huge fan of Dawn Kurtagich and have read the majority of her YA fiction and featured three of her books in my review almanac The YA Horror 400 which was published earlier in the year. Dawn’s YA is on the mature side, so adults could happily enjoy Dead House (2015), The Creeper Man (2016) or Teeth in the Mist (2019) without feeling underchallenged. I was not surprised to hear this talented author was graduating to adult fiction, as Teeth in the Mist (which has since had a sequel, Blood on the Wind) in particular, was extremely close to adult level anyway.

The Madness leans heavily upon Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) in that it reinvents the legendary story in modern day England, abandoning the east coast town of Whitby for north Wales and London. ‘Dracula’ himself is not mentioned by name at all, but we do have Jonathan Harker, Mina, Lucy and other characters such as Renfield, who is renamed, becoming a female. Kurtagich plays around with the characters, wisely does not simply repackage them, and her version of Jonathan Harker is a million miles away from Stoker’s creation. The Madness is much more about the female protagonists and the men are given precious little (perhaps not enough) to do.

If you have never read Stoker’s Dracula you will probably be none the wiser regarding what Kurtagich alters, keeps, evolves or discards in her story. This is by no means a copy and is a highly entertaining read in its own right, and fans of the original novel will have fun spotting the similarities and subtle differences. I did wonder how things would have played out if Kurtagich had renamed all the characters and kept a greater and more deliberate distance from the original Dracula story? Opinions will undoubtedly differ.

Much of The Madness plays out akin to a dark thriller, rather than a horror novel, and there is not a whiff of vampires until well into the second half of a book which is centred around main character Dr. Mina Murray. Mina is a psychiatrist (who we realise has her own personal problems as the novel unfolds) and is called to assess a young woman found naked wandering around and disorientated on a London street. Simultaneously, Mina is called back to her childhood home of north Wales to help her estranged former best friend, Lucy, fight an undiagnosed ailment. Mina notices that the symptoms the two women show are strangely similar and when she investigates further discovers a pattern. But whilst doing so if faced with a wall of silence from the authorities and the author is clearly making a point about how women are treated in wider modern society. The Lucy narrative is the part of the story which most closely reflects the original plot.

The Madness covers a lot of ground, dealing with Mina’s complex relationship with her mother, her reasons for abandoning her Welsh home in the first place and the abuse of power. Parallels could easily be drawn with how modern day prostitution, people smuggling or how other criminal gangs operate, with the police being complicit to what happens in the book. Mina’s mother was a feisty character who is seen as the local witch, which cleverly allows for a lot of Welsh legends and folklore to be added into the plot. The flashbacks to when Mina was a teenager and her original attraction to Jonathan Harker was also nicely managed.

Students of Dracula might ask where was Dr Van Helsing? Which is a valid question. He does not clearly exist in The Madness and if anything Mina adopts his role, adding complexities to the character. She is struggling with her own trauma and a different cycle of abuse, which is revealed as the plot moves advances. This is a character driven story and for a more traditional action driven vampire novel it probably required a more traditional Van Helsing. The fear and helplessness the captive women fear oozes from the page and without a traditional hero they have little sense of hope.

The Madness was an engaging read and I powered through it quickly, but we could have seen more of the vampires beyond the party scenes and considering Dracula (if indeed that is who he is) is hundreds of year old he makes a pretty dumb decision near the end. Overall the ending felt rushed and the manner in which it played out was over familiar and has been used in other novels. I can understand wishing to draft a book from a female point of view, but the balance of this story felt slightly off, as almost every man in it was portrayed as a scumbag apart from Jonathan. The abuse of power is portrayed as a greater evil than the vampires themselves who were creatures of desire and greed.

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Mina is a Psychologist and severe germaphobe with OCD and she is very devoted to her meticulous routine. This routine is thrown into a tailspin when she is called to see a young woman in the psychiatric ward who is covered with a grotesque rash and who prefers to eat insects rather than food. Mina’s structured life is further thrown into chaos when she learns that her estranged former best friend is displaying the same mysterious symptoms. Something rare and evil is attacking young women and seemingly draining them of their very life force.
The Madness is part thriller, part puzzle and part body horror with a dash of horror. The book has plot and character development for the most part. The descriptions of captivity and helplessness are so very real.
Thank you #netgalley for allowing me to read and review #TheMadness.

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The Madness is a frightening modern reimagining of Dracula with a decidedly feminist edge. The characters, especially Mina, are all very interesting and I like the way the author mirrors events from the original but making it different enough to still be interesting.

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An updated look at vampires that’s fun. When Mina’s estranged friend , Lucy emails her asking Mina to come home because Lucy needs help, she goes. Lucy’s displaying the same strange symptoms as one of her psychiatric patients and another run away girl and Mina can’t figure out why. I didn’t connect with any of the characters, including Mina, but the plot was fun.

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This book was excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed the main character with all her quirks and idiosyncrasies. The mental hospital ambiance was good and felt real. As did the dialogue and location. I love the trope of a main character coming back home to resolve something from the past. I also enjoyed the diverse plot of characters as well as a bit of the fantastic.
Thank you to Netgally for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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This book was ok, I couldn’t connect with the main character and felt like I didn’t really know her other than the fact that she’s a psychiatrist. The only reason she left her family was because of being sexually assaulted and that wasn’t explained in great detail. The plot was slow and didn’t have much drive. Good premise and had potential but fell flat.

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This has to be one of the best Dracula retellings ever. Without spoiling most of the major plot points of the original novel, this story gave us something haunting which will stay with us for a longtime. The atmosphere is brilliant and the writing is mesmerizing. It's hard not to get pulled into the story.

The work done on the characters is just the best. They were all very well-developed and extremely relatable. The only qualm I had with this was that the ending felt a little rushed. The story would have been a perfect five star had been at least 50-100 pages longer. Nevertheless, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves horror or gothic stories.

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Retellings of classic horror tales has been a thing for some time. Few can compare to The Madness. This novel was fun. All the characters from Dracula are present but none are what you’d expect. A brilliant feminine take on the original. The story is clever and the writing is beautiful. I cannot recommend this more highly.

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Exquisitely dark, disturbing, and clever as hell! Kurtagich’s hypnotic retelling electrifies and relentlessly propels the reader forward with one cliffhanger after another. If you think you’ve heard this story before, think again. THE MADNESS is a tour de force of feminist horror.

I read this gorgeous contemporary version of the Dracula story from Mina’s POV over Halloween and believe me when I say it was pitch-perfect! Mina finally gets her agency, her voice, and her power. I LOVED this book.

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4.5/5 Stars -
This was my second experience with Dawn Kurtagich's work, and I was pleasantly surprised! I really enjoyed this book. Having read numerous retellings and reimaginings of Bram Stoker's Dracula, ranging from so-so to great, I would place this one between good and great. I loved the reimagining of Mina Murray as a psychiatrist and the way the women took center stage in the story. The gender-bending of characters like Renfield and Quincey added an intriguing twist. I won’t delve too much into the details because the twists and turns are part of what makes this book so enjoyable. It's definitely a strong addition to the world of vampire stories.

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I loved this. But I really didn’t know this was a horror. For an adult horror novel, it was very tame. It read more like a thriller than anything.

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Mina left her hometown years ago vowing never to return. An email from her closest childhood friend, Lucy makes her change her mind and she immediately heads home. Hoping to breach the chasm between them, she is shocked by how sick Lucy is. The symptoms, mirror Mina’s patient, Renee, and as she searches for answers, all she finds are more questions.
Soon, she isn’t sure what is true. Could a group of powerful men be hurting young, vulnerable girls? How does Lucy fit in? As Mina discovers more, she must come to terms with the incident that made her flee from her mother, Lucy, and the boy, Jonathan that she loved.
I stayed up way too late just trying to figure out where the story was going. I never knew what the next chapter would bring. I won’t say more and risk spoilers. It was a very good take on an old classic. Mina’s past plays a part in the story too, and figuring out what made her flee so many years ago, hooked me as much as the current storyline. A creepy tale, that kept me flipping the pages.

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4.5 Stars rounded up

"This is what happens to women."
- Dawn Kurtagich's The Madness

I thought that The Madness, a modern retelling of Dracula, was excellent. If you read Dracula and wished for more Mina, this book is for you. Kurtagich changes many original characters to women and infuses this story with the same anger and vengeance that Kirsten Miller uses in The Change.
I usually read many books at a time but I found that impossible - I couldn't put this one down. The Madness comes out on August 27 - perfect timing for a cozy Autumn read.

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5/5 stars

It's been a while since I've read an entire book in one day. But I *really* couldn't put this one down.

When psychiatrist Mina gets a frantic text from her childhood best friend Lucy, she heads home to Wales - to discover that Lucy is experiencing similar bizarre symptoms to her mystery patient hundreds of miles away in London.

Mostly thriller vibes (with a bit of horror thrown in) I was 100% hooked! I loved the female friendships, the Welsh mythology and folklore, the immersive, Gothic (yet modern) vibes.

It was only after the fact that I realized this was a bit of a “retelling” of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I guess I was just enjoying the plot and story so much, I wasn't paying close attention! (Is that a good thing, or a bad thing about my critical thinking skills? I don't know - but either way, I loved reading it!).

It might not be the most creative/unique book I've read this year (or the scariest!) but it was by far the fastest one I've read...I just had to keep going.

For fans of thrillers, modern gothics, female protagonists, and a bit of Dracula.....go check this out.

Thank you to Netgalley for the ARC. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily. All views expressed are my own.

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THE MADNESS by Dawn Kurtagich
Forthcoming August 27, 2024

A modern day take on the Dracula legend, The Madness is author Kurtagich’s first foray out of YA novels and if this book is any indication, adult readers are in for a fun ride. Taking characters well known to gothic horror readers, she weaves a tale wrought with all the dread of the original source novel but with an updated feel.

Mina Murray is a doctor of psychiatry working in London. Long ago she left her home in the Welsh countryside due to a trauma she has yet to deal with. Leaving behind her mam (her hometown’s local “witch”), her friends Lucy and Quincey, and her love, Jonathan Harker.
While treating a patient with bizarre symptoms that stump her and her ornery superior, Dr Seward, Mina receives word from her old friend Lucy that she’d like her to come see her, professionally. Returning to the site of her personal anguish, she discovers Lucy is suffering from many of the same mental and physical symptoms as Renee, her patient in the city.

She discovers that recently many girls have disappeared in the area, seen getting into a long black car and never seen again. Mina’s snooping leads her to team up with the mom of one of the missing girls, as well as Quincey—herself a copper. Meanwhile she has a run-in with old flame Jonathan that progresses into a resurgence of whatever their former relationship was heading towards.

I really enjoyed this reimagined use of Stoker’s characters. Fitting them into a modern world with current technology like cell phones and the internet really updates the legend and allows for many surprises along the way.
This is also a tale of personal traumas and ways we deal with them, so consider yourself warned.
But at its heart, this is a vampire story, and you’ll get everything you like about that genre here. Dark castles, mind control, paranoia, malevolent villains, physical manifestations of wickedness, forces of good trying to defeat the evil…it’s all present.

Anyone who is a fan of the original classic won’t want to miss this one! I can’t wait to see what Kurtagich has in store for us next!

Thanks to @netgalley and @harlequintradepublishing for the ARC of this title. All opinions are my own!

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I was a big fan of this authors previous books. The Dead House being one of my faves! So I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her newest release. I dare say I loved this one even more than The Dead House. I loved the modern day retelling of Dracula and I’m a sucker for mixed media formats! Highly recommend!

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This modern day loose retelling of Dracula was a great, entertaining read. I was hooked from the get go and ended up reading the whole book in less than 24 hours.

I went in without realizing it was a Dracula retelling, but thinking of the characters names and wondering when the vampires would make an appearance. Before that, though, I really enjoyed what I thought was a very well written horror book, with a slightly psychotic FMC and an extremely interesting storyline.

I really enjoyed this book. The action kept me on the edge of my seat, and I was so invested in finding out what was going to happen, I had a hard time putting the book down. What a great read. Totally recommend for any Dracula, vampire and horror fans!

Thank you to the publisher, Harlequin Trade Publishing, and NetGalley for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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