Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Bloodline

Quincey Harker, son of Mina and Jonathan born after the annihilation of Dracula and named for their Texan friend who died heroically in the climactic fight, co-starred in the Marvel Comics TOMB OF DRACULA series as an elderly vampire-hunter. He's portrayed quite differently in Kate Cary's YA novel BLOODLINE (2005). In Cary's alternate version of the conclusion of Stoker's novel, Count Dracula survived, later marrying Mina (widowed soon after Quincey's first birthday). Quincey grew up in Romania until age thirteen, when he returned to England to enroll at Eton. Inheriting Dracula's taint, which apparently lingered in Mina's body all along, he has become a living vampire by the time we meet him at the beginning of this novel. An officer in France during the Great War, Quincey sublimates his bloodlust by feeding on German soldiers. To his officers and enlisted men, he seems to display almost supernatural prowess in battle. Like DRACULA, BLOODLINE has an epistolary structure, narrated through documents such as letters, a ship's log, the journal of John Shaw (one of Quincey's junior officers), the journal of Mary Seward (daughter of Dr. Seward), and occasional entries from Quincey himself. Mary cares for John after he is gravely wounded, having been rescued by Captain Harker, and in his journal she reads the bizarre account of his experiences in combat. Later, in England, Quincey shows up to court John's sister, Lily. Through sources that include Dr. Seward's reminiscences, the younger generation learns of the supernatural danger Quincey presents. As in DRACULA, the heroes join forces to combat the vampire menace. Lily's genuine feelings for Quincey introduce a romantic dimension, complicating the straightforward "demonic vampire" trope.

For me, the most effective part of the book is the earliest section, in which we see Quincey as a British officer in the trenches of World War I, a soldier with a reputation for reckless heroism but regarded as a bit strange even by his own men. The horrors of life at the front are vividly portrayed. Later the book morphs into a fairly conventional, although competently written, vampire novel, but still worth reading. The somewhat tragic conclusion reveals that a trace of human emotion remains in Quincey. Since a quick Amazon search would reveal this fact, it's not much of a spoiler to mention that he survives to return in a sequel, BLOODLINE: RECKONING (2007).

Margaret L. Carter

Please explore love among the monsters at Carter's Crypt.

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