I haven’t posted for two days now, so I apologize for that. But here we go:
This weekend, I attended two horror movies (Let Me In and My Soul to Take) and finished reading two very cool books: Blood Suckers, the Vampire Archives, and the classic tale about the darkness in Humanity—the duality of Human nature—The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. I will save that one for next time—or after I write about Let Me In, oh…I don’t know.
Regardless, this time around, I want to talk about Vampires.
This first volume of Blood Suckers is a lot of fun. Some of the stories drag a bit, but most are pretty cool and each one of them seems to be darker and more macabre than the next. Even more importantly, the Gothic influences in most of the stories are deep.
There are stories by Ray Bradbury (one of my favorites) and Stoker and even Steven King (probably my least favorite of what I read here). There was even a poem by Keats named, “La Belle Dame Sans Merci,” which I really enjoyed. Perhaps I will post it later.
One of my favorites was a little yarn by M. E. Braddon called, “Good Lady Ducayne.” Mary Elizabeth Braddon was a Victorian Novelist who wrote a lot of Sensation and Victorian Romance Novels. But she was also known to dabble in the gothic. This story was truly a Gothic invention, although the pure sensational aspects of it cannot be ignored.
It is a story about a young woman (Bella) who is hired to serve a wealthy woman as her (in modern lingo) personal assistant of sorts. When Bella arrives to service the aristocratic geezer, she describes her thusly: “a withered, old face under a plumed bonnet—a face so wasted by age that it seemed only a pair of eyes an a peaked chin. The nose was peaked to but between the sharply pointed chin and the great, shining eyes, the small aquiline nose was hardly visible.” She goes on to say, “Claw-like fingers, flashing with jewels…,” and, “…unnaturally bright eyes magnified to a gigantic size and glaring…”
It’s a wonder she took a job with someone that appeared as such at all. I mean Good Lord! What was she thinking? The Gothic is clearly evident here, and one cannot help feel a monstrous, supernatural evil radiating off of the Lady Ducayne who we find might well be feeding off the youth of her young assistants.
And that is only the beginning. The story is full of beautiful, Gothic sensationalism like this and if you like the Gothic, you will love the description. What’s more, the story is chock full of towering mountain ranges that inspire feelings of the sublime. There is strange science at work as the Good Lady’s doctor employs mysterious medicine to drain the young woman.
And of course, our hapless Belle is saved by the young man, completing the Gothic tradition. His marriage to her saving her from the corrupting influence of the aging mother figure and the creeping decay and vampirism reflected in the specter of her wealth and privilege leaching off the underprivileged (and indeed, poor) Belle.
I thought the story was a magnificent reflection of classic Gothic Themes and I loved it. One better: it is one of the early stories in the book and they get better and better.
I recommend you pick up this book if you like vampire stories, or if you like The Gothic. There are more than just the good Lady Ducayne to keep you up at night.