On a stormy night in June 1816, Lord Byron and his physician John Polidori hosted a gathering at the Villa Diodati, a manor house by Lake Geneva. Among the guests were Percy Bysshe Shelley and his future wife, Mary Godwin. The conversation turned to ghost stories, and as they dared each other to tell ever-more gruesome and spine-tingling tales, they created two of the most enduring figures of the gothic horror genre. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was born, while Polidori created the grisly tale that would make him the father of the vampire genre.
The Vampyre tells of a monstrous demon – mirthless, cold and ashen-skinned, and yet possessed of an eloquence and beauty that proves fatally alluring to those who fall under the gaze of his ‘dead grey eye’. The predecessor of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Lord Ruthven embodies a seductive evil that inhabits our fantasies and fears no less today than it did two centuries ago.
This collection presents The Vampyre alongside 11 ghoulish stories, also written in the 19th century. Letitia E. Landon's ‘The Bride of Lindorf ’ is a suspenseful tale that follows the steps of its young hero through creaking forests, ominous storms and secret stairwells, towards an irresistible encounter that will unearth a terrible, life-changing secret. Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s ‘Passage in the Secret History of an Irish Countess’, which he later extended to form the novel Uncle Silas, is a chilling murder story. In ‘The Lady with the Velvet Collar’ by Washington Irving, a German student is intoxicated by a woman of ‘transcendent beauty’, discovering too late that she is not what she seems. Lucasta Miller describes the ineluctable draw of these macabre tales in her introduction, while Anne Yvonne Gilbert’s superb illustrations evoke the interplay of innocence and evil, romance and terror, vitality and death.
Review by JuggleEwok on 23rd Jan 2013
"This book is an excellent, if imperfect, collection of stories. The illustrations are dazzling and the cover is gorgeous. I've been a member here for a few years and I'd say this is probably one of my..." [read more]