Saturday, September 11, 2010

Girl on Book Action: Mina by Marie Kiraly

Mina by Marie Kiraly
ISBN: 0-425-14359-7


In Bram Stoker’s immortal classic, Dracula, an extraordinary woman named Mina Harker became the living object of a vampire’s obsession. He came to her in the night, like a demon lover, opening a vein in his chest – and pressing her tender lips to the wound. Consumed by passion, Mina drank of his blood. And from that moment on, his seductive power filled her senses with strange, forbidden longings. Only one thing saved her soul from eternal damnation: a stake driven through the heart of Count Dracula…

But was the spell really broken? Could a mortal woman return to an ordinary life of marriage – after tasting the exquisite pleasures of Dracula’s desire? In this sensual and haunting sequel to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the dark prince’s most famous mistress reveals the untold story of a timeless love that refused to die.


My Thoughts:

Marie Kiraly is a pen name for Elaine Bergstrom and depending on which edition of this book you’re looking at it may have either name on its cover. I’m not sure why this is the case and I mention it so that you, dear reader, are not confused if you happen to look this book up elsewhere. Now that we have the preliminaries out of the way, let me give you a review and I will try my best not to spoil it, but I fear in this case it may be impossible to avoid. A lot of the book deals with the mystery of whether or not Dracula is still alive and I'm not sure I can safely discuss the book without giving away the mystery, although the back cover does strongly hint at the content. Stop reading now if you care about these sorts of things.

I really enjoyed reading this book and it certainly helped me drag myself out of a reading slump, but I do wish that Kiraly (I will use this name throughout as it’s the name on my copy) had chosen to stick to one style of narration. I understand that she was trying to connect her narrative to Stoker’s but if she was going to use journals and letters it would have worked better if that is all that was used. Instead, she intersperses Mina’s journals with third person narration, which hops between the different characters, a move that was likely meant to provide the multiple view points of Dracula. The story still works and is pretty gripping; I just think it would have benefited from consistency.

Mina’s struggle for independence in a society where a liberated female is not acceptable added some depth to the story so it didn’t feel like just another paranormal romance. However, it made the opening slow if you’re looking for something with a fast pace and lots of action. The second half definitely picks up and the change of pace was nice, but it was made more meaningful by the earlier character exploration. Mina’s conflict really made the book interesting, her strength and her determination, but it was undermined by the fact that Dracula’s blood spurs on her passion and makes her grasp for more in her life. Still, in the end she stands alone against the vampires, none of the men can help her.

Another aspect I appreciated was that the vampire brides are fleshed out in Kiraly’s narrative and she uses a journal to good effect here. They are still monstrous, but some of their humanity is restored so you don’t just see them as overly sexual creatures that feed on the blood of children when they aren’t able to seduce travelers for their meals. Actually, both the men and women are well-written and three-dimensional, but the men tend to lack understanding and suffer from a general inability or unwillingness to act. The exception is Lord Winston Gance, but his motives are suspect from the outset.

The resolution was a little anti-climatic, but also solved the issue of Mina’s passion and need for independence and sexual satisfaction being so heavily influenced by Dracula. The end did leave me wondering what would happen next, and it appears that there is a sequel called Blood to Blood which I may need to find so I know how Mina’s life turns out after all of her struggles and triumphs.

Overall, I recommend this novel if you’re looking for something that features the characters from Dracula that is more sympathetic to the women characters. The stylistic issues really fade into the background as the story grips you and pulls you along with it.

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