Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mina: the Dracula story continues – review

Author: Marie Kiraly

First Published: 1994

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: She tasted the blood of Dracula…

In Bram Stoker’s immortal classic, Mina Harker became the living, breathing object of an obsession – only to fall prey to the stalker’s seductive powers. There was only one way to save her soul – by destroying Count Dracula, the creature who controlled and consumed her. But was the spell really broken? Could Mina really return to the ordinary turns of a day, to the constraints of a Victorian marriage, after the pleasures of such exquisite darkness?

She lives to tell the tale…

This is the haunting story, as told by the dark Prince’s most infamous mistress, revealing an unsettling, sensual, and remarkable tale of love that refused to die.

The review: I love the character of Mina, as depicted in Dracula, and thus I am drawn to books that concentrate on her as a character. There is, however, a sad tale around this book – sad as in me as the reader.

I noticed the book and thought ooh… nice cover and the same name as one of my favourite unofficial Dracula sequels. I bought the book and was struck at the way the author revisited the last section of Dracula and retold it from Mina’s point of view (her voice is lost at the end of Stoker’s novel). I was also struck at how hauntingly familiar it was. Indeed, as the book went on I knew the character names of allegedly new characters and knew already the situations they found themselves in.

This was remarkably similar, I thought, to Elaine Bergstrom’s novel. It had been years since I had read it, however, and the dedication, I noticed, thanked Bergstrom. I decided to compare, dug the Bergstrom volume out and discovered that they were identical… this is Bergstrom’s novel reissued under a different name (which was the pen name I don’t confess to know).

To a degree I felt cheated. I hadn’t known that Kiraly and Bergstrom were one and the same... and yet... in other ways, despite feeling a bit of a fool, I was delighted at having given myself an excuse to re-read this novel. It is a deeply sensuous book with some interesting ideas along the way. For instance, being unofficial, I can forgive the author for tying Dracula into the Tepes story, but what she did with it (and the source of vampirism) was true genius. It was Illona (historically the name of Tepes second wife) who made a deal with the devil and became undead, she turned Vlad and is subsequently one of the three brides from the novel.

The book draws you in and is incredibly well written, giving Mina a strong voice that cannot be denied. In some respects it turns the tables on the male characters (specifically Van Helsing, Jack Seward, Jonathon Harker and Arthur Holmewood) and makes them rather flawed and quite weak in their own ways.

This, under whichever author name you find it, is a worthwhile book and a must have for a collection. There is a sequel, Blood to Blood, that is also very worthwhile. 8 out of 10.


Zahir Blue said...

Oh! I remember reading this! My memory is of a quite good novel...

Taliesin_ttlg said...

it's certainly better than the 'official sequel' - but to be fair this gives Mina a wonderful voice and is a richly written book - as my review alluded to.

Nice to hear from you Zahir

Derek Tatum said...

This book was originally published under the name "Marie Kiraly." It was later reissued under "Elaine Bergstrom," and then it was reprinted and issued yet again under "Marie Kiraly."

Elaine Begstrom gets to have her cake and eat it too in regards to vampires... her Austra book that are published under her own name are also excellent, and completely different.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

cheers for the clarification Derek... though perhaps the cover of this new edition should say 'previously published under'?

That said, a great book, well worth having/reading and I have read one of the Austra books and thoroughly enjoyed that also.