I’ve been over the vampire thing for a bit but every once in awhile an old school one finds me and I can’t help but read it. While looking on the Gutenberg Project for some horror recently, I found this one. Let me tell you, there’s nothing like a Victorian, Gothic, psychic vampire.
Reginald Clarke is a man everyone loves. He’s talented in every way and people crave his company. Artists flock to him and he takes in writers, musicians, and painters to his home. But something happens to all these talented people — they soon leave him with nothing, not a trace of the talent they arrived with. A young writer staying with Reginald, and for all purposes, under his spell, figures it out and tries to get out from under Reginald’s enchantment.
The House of the Vampire is good and creepy and the type of vampire story I want more of. There’s no blood and certainly no sparkling going on here. Let’s all take a moment to be thankful for that. It’s an interesting concept, a psychic vampire, and frankly one that’s more terrifying, in some ways, than an actual blood sucking vampire. This is someone stealing who and what you are. Taking it for himself and using it to his advantage until there’s nothing left of you. You are a shell of a human being with nothing to give or take from anyone. Think about that.
If Wikipedia is correct, this short story was written in 1907 but it feels younger than its 100 + years.
The House of the Vampire
By George Sylvester Viereck
Gutenberg Project Ebook
Confession: I haven’t read the Chaos Walking trilogy. I kept meaning to then all these other books got in the way and it never happened. Everyone loves the books, and from what I’ve read about them, there’s a pretty good chance (a high probability if I’m honest) that I’ll feel much the same about the series if I ever get around to reading the books.
One day, tapping buttons on my tablet (by this I mean buying books), I came across this short story which is a precursor to the trilogy. It was free. Why not? Who could resist free?
Viola is aboard a small ship with her parents who will soon be attempting to land on the planet. Viola is less than thrilled. She’s never lived anywhere but on a ship in space and the last thing she wants is to leave the only life she’s ever known. As the day of the attempted landing approaches, nerves fray and the worst possible thoughts become reality.
This is a short story, about 25 pages so I can’t say more and I wouldn’t want to ruin this for anyone that might be interested in reading it. I will say that if you’re like me and you haven’t read the series, this will only make you want to. And if you’ve read the series, you’ll probably just want more.
The New World
By Patrick Ness
A River Runs Through It
By Normal Maclean
The University of Chicago Press
I’m the daughter of a fisherman — a bass fisherman to be precise. Trust me, it matters. Going into this story, I had few expectations other than I would love it, having loved the movie long before reading this. Talk about expectations being met. Not only is this story wonderfully moving but it brought back a lot of memories I have of fishing with my dad and grandpa. While Norman and his brother Paul are fly fisherman obsessed with the sport and the mechanics of it, the two are easy to relate to and you see how fishing became a metaphor for the lives of these two men.
Norman begins the story by laying out the terms by which his father and brother live. And by live I mean fish. Fishing is their life — sad, stressed, and/or happy — they fish. It transports them to another place where time doesn’t so much matter as long as you get your limit. Paul is a stubborn soul and Norman admits to not being able to understand him or connect with him on his own level which both frustrates and amazes him. His life is boring but orderly and while he may not be the happiest of people, Norman knows who and what he is. Paul is unpredictable, strange, and a wonder with a rod anywhere near water. Even their father has trouble relating to Paul but everyone stands in awe of him, from the careless way he leads his life to the way he can fish a river.
A River Runs Through It is a short chronicle of Paul’s life and Norman’s struggle to understand it. It’s also very sad but I won’t go into spoilers here. You do have to read it to understand the depth he manages to convey with so few words. It’s astonishing.
I love the role the Montana landscape plays in this story. It’s a living being especially the river in which they fish and consider almost a reverent part of the family in ways. Neither brother fears the river although they have a certain respect for it but it’s Paul who seems able to tame it and that’s where Norman’s awe of his brother comes in. His descriptions of Paul’s fishing abilities are poetic in a way and should be read to be fully appreciated so I won’t try to describe it for you.
There are a few additional stories in the book I have, A River Runs Through It being the only one I’ve read so far. Since this is a short story and the best known of Maclean’s work, I wanted to include it here as a separate review. I think it warrants that. It’s an emotionally moving story that feels much longer than its scant 100 pages.
By Amanda Stevens
Ree Hutchins is on-duty at the mental hospital when her favorite patient passes away. Never a believer in the supernatural, and certainly not ghosts, Ree can’t shake the feeling that something isn’t quite right; especially after overhearing a conversation involving a doctor she admires greatly. Ree spends her days trying to understand what she overhead at the hospital and hoping the creepy feeling she’s experiencing will fade. Finding herself in a cemetery late one night with no recollection of how she got there, Hayden Priest, an amateur ghost hunter, comes to her rescue in more than one way.
This is a prequel to The Restorer which I really enjoyed. (My review is here if you’re interested.) It’s a short story but because I’d read The Restorer first, I had very high expectations. I tamped the expectations down and enjoyed the story more at the end than at the beginning. In ways, it felt as though I was waiting for more and that was because I knew the other later story that came from this one. Stevens was definitely honing her story idea here.
As part of my 2011 reading, I’ve been trying to read more short stories, something I don’t often do because in certain ways I feel cheated. I get attached to a story or a character and then it ends quickly. I’m slowly learning to overcome this so even though my review seems only lukewarm, it’s not intended that way. That has more to do with my non-ability to read a short story without being picky. If you’re looking for a quick little ghost story, give this a try but do it before The Restorer if you have that on your list. It’s an enjoyable story.
Dawn of Avalon: Morgan and Merlin — The Beginning
By Anna Elliott
Smashwords Edition downloaded to Nook
Oh, my soft spot for all things King Arthur. After having finished a rather long book, I thought it would be a good idea to read a few short stories to get myself back into a reading groove. And of course, I also thought I’d return to a love of mine — Arthurian stories.
Morgan Pendragon has disguised herself as a boy and offered her services to King Vortigern. She ends up working as a healer in his dungeon to get close to a certain prisoner; a man who can tell no one who he is, where he comes from, or which side he’s fighting for. When Vortigern gets nothing from him after days of torture, he decides to sacrifice the man to appease the gods in an attempt to hold off Uther Pendragon’s impending invasion. Morgan, not willing to watch him die, helps him to escape and finds out he’s more than just a soldier. He’s a man with magical abilities — a man named Merlin.
Morgan and Merlin are some of my favorite characters from Arthurian stories. Morgan was slightly different; softer, less hostile, less magical, and for me not nearly as interesting. It’s not a bad thing, I just have a general standard in my head for the character of Morgan and she’s a meaner and harder figure but this Morgan did fit this particular story better. As for Merlin, I usually think of him as very self-assured and able to make decisions supernaturally so his being helpless again took me out of my comfort zone. He needed Morgan to survive both physically and emotionally, but again, it fit with the story being told. All in all it, was good and I might look up a few more things by Anna Elliott particularly Twilight of Avalon. Dawn of Avalon is the short story that serves as the prequel to that book.