The Waters of Hercules – The Legend of Gaura Dracului
By Emily and Dorothea Girard
Introduction by A.K. Brackob, Illustrated by Phoebe Cho
The Waters of Hercules is a long-forgotten novel with close ties to Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The heroine of the story, Gretchen, is an intelligent young German woman, who distinguished herself in school by winning the prix de logique. A very practical-minded girl, Gretchen, influenced by her Italian friend, Belita, considers marriage an economic proposition and is determined to marry a man of wealth. When the decent, respectable family lawyer Vincenz Komers, a man of modest means, seeks her hand in marriage, she rejects him, not once, but twice.
When Gretchen’s father is seriously injured in an accident, the family sets off to Transylvania, to the Baths of Hercules (Baile Herculane in modern Romania, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire), in hopes that the waters of Hercules, known for their curative powers, will rehabilitate her ailing father. Her father, Adalbert, tells his daughter of a mysterious place in the surrounding forest, known as Gaura Dracului (the Devil’s Pit) that he had discovered during a visit to the valley years earlier, but the location of which is now a mystery. Hercules, considered the god of the Valley, is said to have sworn that the pit would receive a sacrifice of human blood once every century. The legends of a mysterious treasure associated with Gaura Dracului inspires Gretchen to consider another way to make her fortune so that she can marry any man of her choosing. Her efforts are redoubled when the long-expected inheritance of a family estate proves illusory.
As Gretchen relentlessly pursues the secrets of Gaura Dracului and the hidden treasure it is said to hold, she is courted by the handsome, wealthy, and debonair Baron István Tolnay, called the King of the Valley, who could provide the financial security that both she and her family seek. Aided by the Baron, Vincenz, her brother Kurt, and others, she sets out to find the mysterious bottomless pit in the nearby Transylvanian mountain forest. Will Gretchen discover the elusive Gaura Dracului? Will its secrets finally be revealed? Will Gretchen find the lost treasure? Or will she achieve financial security for herself and her family by marrying the wealthy Baron?
Written by sisters Emily and Dorothea Girard, The Water of Hercules is a Victorian novel, filled with Gothic suspense. It should be of great interest to all fans of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, as well as anyone interested in classic works of nineteenth-century literature. With an introduction by noted historian A.K. Brackob, a specialist in the history of Eastern Europe, The Waters of Hercules is sure to entertain and delight.
Imprint: Addison & Highsmith Publishers
510 pp., 6.14 x 9.21 in. (234 x 156 mm), Illustrated
Date of Publication: October 19, 2021