Friday, January 22, 2010

Bride of Darkness, by Margery Lawrence [1967]

Correct cover art, different title and author. This book's title is in bold white letters at upper left-hand corner. The true color is a sinister bile green with mossy hightlights. In the lower right-hand corner are these words in white italics: "Beneath the lovely facade of a modern young wife lurked an evil -- as ancient and indestructible as time."

The story purports to be true. Its author, Margery Lawrence, begins in the Foreword: "Most readers of this book will regard it as a piece of pure fantasy, but in fact it is not. It is the true and exact account (except in a few places where I have altered the 'coloring' of the story in order to avoid any possible identification with places or people) of the marriage of a friend whom I will call, for obvious reasons, Mr. X. Mr. X is a scientist of considerable attainments..."

Blah blah. The story opens on Keith Randolph, 27-ish Englishman. The story is told from his perspective. While on business in Italy on his father's behalf, Keith meets Gilda: A gorgeous red-headed sculptor, and a widow, who works in her father's home. Her father is a wealthy collector and antiquarian. Keith is madly attracted to Gilda; she's smooth and coy. Soon they're married and burning up the marriage bed. She'd always wanted an English husband, and soon they settle in London. Things go fine for a while; Gilda has a few oddities about her, including refusal to take any salt in her food. She's also always offering to "do" other peoples' hair and nails; claims to have been a former stylist and manicurist. Keith's father, wealthy in his own right, becomes progressively ill. Keith finds little envelopes filled with hair clippings and nail trimmings of various people (their names are written on each envelope in Gilda's hand) in a mysterious box in her work desk. Hmmmm! Soon Gilda becomes pregnant; and she's FURIOUS about it. The baby (Noel) is born and Gilda shows no care for her child; let the nanny do everything. She's cold, callus, super-selfish; Keith becomes increasingly frustrated and enraged by Gilda's "turn" of character.

But a bright spot in Keith's life: Chloris. She's the daughter of his father's long-time Grecian friend (or something). Chloris and her Aunt Mary relocate to London as well; Chloris begins working for a magazine. They've known each other for ages and Keith gradually begins to fall in love with Chloris. Aunt Mary's lady servant recognizes Gilda for what she is: A witch! Despite the shocked utterance accompanied by fainting on the woman's part, despite all evidence he's seen/experienced, Keith is "shocked" and must run to a dictionary to ensure he understood the Greek word the woman used against his wife. Right.

As the Randolphs' marriage continues to sour and the health of their son, Noel, continues to falter, Gilda is suddenly summoned to Italy: Her father. Who soon dies. Seems lots of people die around Gilda at the most opportune times. Meanwhile, Keith nobly plans how to save his faltering infant son, Noel, from his mother; she's away in Italy and he has time...which he fritters away wringing his hands when he's not taking Chloris out for drinks and dancing. >:-( It's very easy to see the social mores/values of the time in these old novels: An angry witch will carry a child to term rather than abort it; a man cannot divorce his wife and must stand idly by (sort of) until she returns home.

The story is chatty, chatty, chatty. Lots of descriptives of dress, hairstyles, jewelry. Painstaking detail about EVERYTHING. That was a major turnoff, and after page 108 I had enough and skimmed to the ending:

Which is happy of course. Gilda gets hers in the end. Noel is spared (thankfully!), Keith and Chloris are free to love and marry; they have 3 children.

I give it 3 stars out of 5. It's good writing and entertaining, just...tedious.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Tulip Tree (cover scan) - *ENLARGED*

Absinthe of the former "Gloomy Sunday" blog scanned this. She offered me copy/use of her images...and then she was gone (November '08).

I've not been able to find this book/cover locally.

This post is in honor of Shaun's friendship: Seven years of fun discussing astronomy, planetary science, manned spaceflight and Mars colonization at two message boards. Farewell, my Aussie friend. :*-(

p.s.: Finally got stupid Photobucket to open/work. Enjoy the larger version.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Girl on the Moon & Her Vampire

Image from "The Vampire Tarot" by Robert M. Place, found via Google Images. Last night while continuing to read the accompanying book, I came across the author's reference to a patient of Jung's. Mr. Place quotes the source of the case -- Jung's "Memories, Dreams, Reflections" -- which I read probably 5 years ago. Mr. Place retells the case perfectly, and I thought it might be of interest, so I'll quote him:

"Jung related a fantasy of an 18-year-old female catatonic patient under his care, in which a vampire symbolized her Animus and became the catalyst for her healing. As he stated later, her condition stemmed from being seduced by her brother. Because incest is traditionally associated with royalty and divinities, this experience transported her to a mythic realm. She gradually became more and more isolated and odd, until she was completely silent. Jung worked with her for weeks, and when he finally persuaded her to speak, she depicted her catatonic state as a fantasy in which she had been living on the moon.

She said that the men on the moon kept their wives and children in sublunar dwellings so that they would be safe from a vampire who lived in the mountains. As a favor to the moon people, the patient planned to destroy the vampire. To accomplish this, she waited for him on a tower erected for this purpose and had a sacrificial knife concealed under her gown. Day after day she waited until he drew close. His appearance was that of a large black bird with several pairs of wings. His iridescent black feathers totally hid his face, and when he was finally within reach she was seized by a curiosity to find out what he looked like. Suddenly the wings opened, revealing a man of unearthly beauty, and she was spellbound and unable to strike. Then, the vampire seized her with an iron grip and flew away with her.

After this, she was able to speak and could no longer return to her catatonic state. Gradually she returned to complete health, was married and had a natural full life.

When the female patient began to wonder what her Animus looked like, she began to interact with him consciously and he transformed into a healing catalyst."

Cool huh? ;-)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

More Bitter Than Death (cover scan)

Found this beauty (published in 1962) at the local used bookstore the same day I found "The Master of Phoenix Hall" (posted very recently). Both books are in near-mint condition, particularly this one. It'll likely be a while before I get around to reading MBTD, although it's definitely in my 10-stack of "read soon" Gothics. Meanwhile I'm 2/3 of the way through a current Gothic.

{p.s.} If you look closely enough, the girl is wearing a blue-beaded necklace which is swinging off to the viewer's left as she flees.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

House on Somber Lake, by Alix de Marquand [1968]

Unfortunately I couldn't find a cover scan for this novel, but it's simple enough to describe: Picture the "Easy Eye" logo at cover's top with "Large Type Non-Glare Paper" at its side. The art itself: Picture the Bates House in upper left-hand corner, beneath it a girl (Gillian) with shoulder-length straight brown hair in a red/white checked sleeveless dress who looks a lot like Hilary Swank aged 25. In cover's middle is marshland/ponds. The sky is gloomy/overcast. At cover's right side is a column of black smoke which looks like a tornado falling down. Gillian is looking at the column of smoke with trepidation.

This novel is a hoot. I've not finished it and am not sure I will, because it is so poorly edited and is flat-out zany. It starts out well enough; Gillian's on a train. She seems wise and level-headed. The train comes to an abrupt stop. Her friends, Sidney and Marylois, decide to exit the train and tramp to the nearby small town until the train's troubles are repaired (they have NO idea how long or short in duration this will be). Gillian of course thinks this is highly foolish of Sidney and Marylois; yet she decides to follow them! Gillian gets off the train, searches for her friends. They're nowhere in sight. Now she's confused. The train whistle blows and she runs for it; too late! That stupid Sidney and Marylois; how dumb could THEY have been?? :-p

Well Gillian's a heckuva lot dumber, because she suddenly finds herself in a quicksand-type bog which nearly kills her (who's the idiot now, again??). A strange man hears her cries for help however, and comes to rescue her. His name is Edward Webley.

Webley's a recluse. He has little money. Despite wishing to be left alone in this dreadful world of 1968 and being nearly flat-broke, he has an older married couple as hired hands. Makes no sense; little money, lots of time, claims to be a recluse and yet he's got "help."

Webley puts Gillian up for the night. But tomorrow she's GOT TO GO. He's never had guests before and dadblame it, she'll be the last. And he's not going to take her to her "new" (sight as yet unseen) house; the hired help will drive her there.

Next morning Webley's tearing down the road with Gillian as his passenger. Seems he's changed his mind awful sudden: Now HE will take her to the sight-unseen house she's bought.

They arrive at the house, which isn't a cottage but a villa; it's made of dark gray stones. Only the bedroom is furnished. Later we discover it's a cottage after all, and is pretty much furnished throughout. Another contradiction.

Gillian has no car of her own. She's nearly out of money (yet later offers to loan Webley money), no job, no foodstuffs in the house. Because of this, you guessed it: She'll be a guest in Webley's home again tonight (despite his adamant stance it'd be the one night only). They head for the car. Get in. Gilliam SLAMS the car door (she has a penchant for this). Webley's at the wheel, begins to drive off. Next thing we read, she's FOLLOWING him in the rain as he walks ahead of her; she watches the movements of his shoulders in the rainfall. They're sopping wet as they get into the car. *sigh*

She's going to spend the 2nd night at Webley's house, right? Nope, now Mr. Recluse (who hasn't seen the outlying towns in aeons) is taking her into town; to a bar, where people hate him. They're at the bar so Marylois can come pick Gillian up.

However, the novel does have a certain charm because of all its flaws. It also does have a solid enough storyline. I think the author was probably rather young, and didn't benefit from a good editor; a pity, because it had true promise imo. If I finish it, I'll do another review.

My Gothic Jewelry

This will soon be ordered. It's due to Jake. We're no longer brother and sister. I'll always cherish you, Jake; regardless. Thanks for practically killing my heart.

I have a garnet ring similar to this one, except mine is fancier with a fine filigree. Can't find a pic on the 'net of it.

Pugin Cross ring. A heavy man's ring. Wear it on my left forefinger. No one seems to notice though; hmmmm. This one is copyrighted 1998 by The English Alchemy Carta; I ordered it from England years ago.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Vampire Tarot, Dracula & Carl G. Jung

"The vampire of European legend is a repulsive, ugly monster, the stinking reanimated bloodsucking corpse of a criminal, a suicide victim, an alcoholic, a heretic or other social misfit who crudely preys (on others);...folk beliefs do not attest to the intelligence of this monster...who rarely strays far from home.

+However+, the vampire of modern novels and cinema bears little resemblance to his folkloric predecessor. He is likely to be a romantic wealthy noble who has lived for centuries, travels far, has his choice of beautiful women for prey, intelligence (etc.); he or she may also be beautiful and the focus of sexual desire.

To comprehend the connection, and yet dissimilarities, between the folk and the literary fantasy, the observations of the famous pioneer of psychology, C.G. Jung (1875 - 1961) are helpful. Jung observed that whereas passive fantasy -- the fantasies produced in dreams, visions, delusions and folktales -- "bear a morbid stamp," active fantasy -- a therapeutic, conscious exploration of a fantasy, one that takes place in the arts as well as in therapy -- "is one of the highest forms of psychic activity." Applying this observation to our vampire theme, we see that the folk traditions of the vampire are passive fantasies and bear a morbid stamp. In Jungian terms, this morbid quality occurs because these fantasies are unconscious projections of fears that derive from a powerful inner force or archetype. The archetype that they derive from is one that Jung termed the Shadow, which is a depository in the unconscious for all aspects of the personality that most people consciously disown.

The literary vampire, on the other hand, is a work of art, which is a conscious exploration of the unconscious. The archetype that it calls on is primarily the one that Jung labeled the Anima (male psyche) or Animus (female psyche)...personifications of the soul that can appear as either a negative or positive influence. In fact, when explored in a fantasy, the Anima or Animus tends to transform from negative to positive and become a guide to greater wisdom. Because it is a conscious fantasy, the literary vampire is a personification of the Anima or the Animus, and owes more to the mythical themes of gods and lovers...that is why it can become the theme of a Tarot deck."

[The Vampire Tarot book, pages 69 & 70]

As an armchair student of Jung's, I found this fascinating! Sorry for any typo's that I might not have caught after proofing.

p.s.: I should add that I wasn't aware Mr. Place is a student of Jung's nor that Jungian psychology is applied to "Dracula" in this book and Tarot, when I purchased it. What a delightful surprise this has been! :-)

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Vampire Tarot, by Robert M. Place [2009]

As recently mentioned, I purchased this deck in late November. Have been reading the accompanying book (will post regarding it tomorrow). Last evening and this, I unwrapped and studied the cards. They are *MESMERIZING* - bold and powerful! I've not yet encountered so powerful a Tarot deck as this one, but then it IS rooted in the application of Jungian psychology to Bram Stoker's "Dracula." The art is phenomenal, imo; certain cards have an almost 3-D effect, as if you could push your finger into it and feel textures. I was instantly engrossed. The colors are enticing, and some are tones and hues I've never seen before. Also, many lovely contrasts with stark solid black. :-)

My only criticism of the deck are the Court cards: I dislike historical figures used to represent some of them (others are represented by fictional characters). Why do I dislike the use of historical figures? Because they were real people, and why should I presume each individual *would have* represented the essence of the card?

I wanted to include as many scanned cards as possible in this post (found via Google images), but NONE of the scans do the cards true justice. If you think the images in this post are lovely then buy the deck, see the real cards and prepare to have your socks knocked off.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Master of Phoenix Hall (cover scan)

Have just now obtained this terrific cover scan via Ecrater. The colors are true (thank you whoever you are!). I found this Gothic at the local used bookstore today. The title on the spine was unfamiliar, it was on the top shelf; I'm glad I reached up to check the is *gorgeous.* :-) Instantly one of my absolute favorites. The girl with her flowing gown and lovely white gloves, tapering lit candle, ancient weaponry, another gloomy dungeon door; and notice the three dangling skulls. Fabulous! Had to share it now. Probably will read after I've finished two current Gothics.

p.s.: Until I can get my account to open (to host the original larger image), here's the scan's link:

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Cry of the Cat (cover scan)

Trixie's all-time favorite cover art. I have a copy of this novel; it's probably many months away as reading goes. Thought I'd start off the new year with a nod to my co-reviewer. ;-) No hangover here; in fact, we forgot about the Smirnoff altogether! It would have been a toast and few sips. Have half a day's work ahead of me, which is great; I'm a workaholic and generally can't abide 3-day weekends. Happy 2010!