The Agonizing Resurrection of Victor Frankenstein and Other Gothic Tales
Subterranean Press – 2014 (Originally published 1994)
My daughter recently got a book called Little Red Reading Hood. It’s about a little girl who changes the endings of stories that she’s not quite satisfied with.
“You don’t like an ending?” Red Reading Hood said.
“Then change it, arrange it again in your head.
Just switch it and stitch it up some other way.”
The Wolf nodded slowly and whispered, “OK.”
It seems to me that Thomas Ligotti must have encountered this Little Red Reading Hood character in the early 90s and followed her directions when composing the pieces in The Agonizing Resurrection of Victor Frankenstein and Other Gothic Tales. This is basically a collection of alternate or extended endings to a bunch of classic horror stories.
The books getting the Ligotti treatment here are The Island or Dr. Moreau, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Phantom of the Opera, The Turn of the Screw, and The Mysteries of Udolpho, along with several tales by Poe and Lovecraft. Two movies are also revised, House of Wax and The Wolfman. There are another 4 stories in here that I was not able to source.
- The Unnatural Persecution, by a Vampire, of Mr. Jacob J.
- The Superb Companion of André de V., Anti-Pygmalion
- The Ever-Vigilant Guardians of Secluded Estates
- The Scream: from 1800 to the Present
Ligotti seems to refer to these as ‘once-told tales’ in his introduction, so I assume they are entirely of his own creation. If I’m wrong and anyone knows what stories/books/movies these tales originate from, please let me know.
The writing and tone here is pretty much what you’d expect. Ligotti makes these classics of horror more painful and horrifying. It’s quite a ghoulish undertaking when you think about it.
The first piece in this collection is an additional scene for The Island of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells. This was the only book that Ligotti uses that I hadn’t read, so right after finishing with Ligotti, I started on Moreau. Fucking Hell, it was awesome. I was aware of the general premise, but I thought it was going to be a quaint little science fiction novel. It’s pure horror, a nightmare of a book. After reading Wells’ book, I reread Ligotti’s, and I can confirm that the stories in the latter are better if you’ve read the source material. I quite enjoyed witnessing some of my favourite characters from my favourite books being revived by one of my favourite authors.
Physical copies of this book are extremely rare, and it’s a very short work, only about 50 pages. I read an ebook version in about half an hour, and while I enjoyed it, the experience certainly wasn’t worth the 600 dollars that a physical copy would cost. This is an interesting curiosity, and while entirely enjoyable in itself, it’s simply not long enough to stand up to Ligotti’s other collections. If you’re a fan of Ligotti and horror in general, buy the ebook and put on a pot of coffee. You’re in for a treat.
I’m still waiting for a special occasion to start reading Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe, but I finally finished the last season of The X-Files recently, and I am planning on reading Ligotti’s screenplay for the episode that was never made in the hopes that it will temporarily fill the X shaped void in my now miserable life.