Jun 8, 2008

Mina Harker's Story: From the Pen of Elaine Bergstrom

Many authors have explored the world created by Bram Stoker in his classic novel Dracula. One such writer is Elaine Bergstrom who imagines Mina Harker's story in two books - Mina: The Dracula Story Continues. (Berkley, 1994 writing as Marie Kiraly. Reissued in 2007) and Blood to Blood (Ace, 2000)


Towards the finale of Stoker’s novel Mina Harker, an unwilling victim of the evil count, journeys to Transylvania with Van Helsing and others, including husband Jonathan, determined to destroy the vampire in his lair. In Bergstrom’s novel the story is told through Mina’s eyes. As she travels with the vampire hunters she admits, only to herself, that her encounters with Dracula have awakened passions she never felt before. Even when it is believed that Dracula has been destroyed her longing for his embrace does not end.

Early in the book Mina describes a meeting with Dracula. "He stared at me, and for a moment, I had an astonishing revelation of where his mesmerizing power lay. All his thoughts were fixed on me as no other man's had ever been. Even Jonathan, on the day I agreed to be his wife, had a portion of his mind elsewhere. But with Dracula, I was the center of all his attention, the one who could satisfy his terrible need, give him strength.... This understanding gave me a heady feeling that made me weak with a desire I found horrifying... (quoted from Mina. Berkley, 1994 p. 6-7). As the story unfolds she also finds herself strongly drawn to the hedonistic Lord Gance. There are several clever, unforeseen twists and turns.


Mina and Jonathan Harker live separately as this novel begins. Mina’s love affair with Lord Gance has ended with his death in Transylvania. She returns to London for the reading of his will. To her astonishment she finds that he has left her his home in Exeter and thus given her a degree of independence known to few women of this era. Her love for Jonathan, however, has not died. Both have had sexual exploits associated with the erotic pull of the vampires. And so they have a certain understanding and sympathy for each other but is it enough to save their marriage?

While trying to sort this out Mina learns that Dracula’s half sister Joanna Tepes has awakened and followed her brother’s trail to England. Although a powerful nosferatu, Joanna has not lost her human soul. She has no desire to kill or harm humans. It is Arthur Holmwood, the man who lost his finance Lucy to Dracula and felt forced to destroy her, who earns Joanna’s trust and offers her the hand of human decency. Mina supports Arthur’s sympathetic view of Joanna, but this lovely picture is spoiled by a mortal killer. He is stalking victims, and all of the protagonist face danger because of this monster.

Both books have an enchanting, erotic air, but the stories are more than that. Each believably describes the thoughts and feelings of every character. I've read and enjoyed Mina and Blood to Blood.

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