Holy Shit, Shitty Hole (2 year Anniversary Post)

holy-blood-holy-grailHoly Blood, Holy Grail – Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln
Dell – 1983 (First published 1982)

I finally bit the bullet and read Holy Blood, Holy Grail. This very stupid pile of shit is perhaps best known today as the blueprint for Dan Brown’s the Da Vinci Code, but it was a best-seller on its release and has had a huge effect on the formulation and popularization of conspiracy theories ever since. I never expected it to be any good, but I thought that I should read it to familiarize myself with modern grail lore before beginning some of the more dubious texts on that subject.

The main idea here, and we’ve all heard this one before, is that Jesus had a kid. The authors claim that Jesus was actually married to Mary Magdalen and that this pair had a child. Personally, I see absolutely no reason for the historical Jesus to have remained celibate. We don’t know where he was or what he was doing during his 20s. What do most people do in their 20s? They go out and ride whatever they can get their hands on. It would have been weird if Jesus was a virgin. I don’t need the evidence in this book to convince me that he might have had kids. I would be more interested in sensible reasons to believe that he didn’t. And less than 50 pages of this 450+ page book are actually spent discussing the evidence for a horny Jesus. The other 400 pages are taken up with the authors making complete idiots out of themselves.

So one of the authors, I can’t remember which one, read a book on his holidays one year in the early 70s. This book was about Berenger Sauniere, a priest in the south of France who had suddenly became rich in the late 1800s. There were all kinds of rumours about Berenger having found treasure of some kind, and the lad reading the book thought this was pretty interesting and decided to do some research on the mystery of the priest’s wealth. He went over to France and started looking for clues. While he was over there, somebody gave him an anonymous tip-off that there was a dossier of curious documents in a library in Paris that might contain information pertaining to this mystery. Sure enough, he goes to the library and there, in this dossier, are a bunch of cool documents that keep mentioning a weird sounding secret society. Convinced that he’s onto something big, the lad makes some photocopies, goes back to England and starts mashing his pieces of the puzzle together. A few weeks later he gets another call from his anonymous informant who tells him that a few more very interesting documents seem to have shown up in the secret dossier in the library. Our boy is on the next ferry over to France, and what do ye know, when he gets to the library, the dossier is looking thicker. This happens a few times over the next few years, and by the end, his friends and he have managed to piece together the peculiar history of the Priory of Sion, a mysterious secret society that has links to the Merovingian and Carolingian Dynasties of Medieval France, the Knights of the Round Table, the Cathars, the Knights Templar, the Rosicrucians and the Freemasons.

The authors use all the evidence from the secret dossier and a generous dollop of imagination to argue that the Priory of Sion is a secret society devoted to protecting the bloodline of Jesus Christ in the hopes that they will someday be able to reinstate his descendants as the rightful rulers of civilization.

The problem here is that the Priory of Sion is completely fake. It was made up by Pierre La Plantard, a dodgy Frenchman who believed that he was the descendant of some medieval French Kings. Him and his friends had been the ones putting the documents into the secret dossier all along. The whole thing was a load of absolute bollocks. Now, Pierre’s claim was that he was of Merovingian descent, but the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail were claiming that he was the direct descendant of Jesus Christ. He got a bit embarrassed about this and renounced the book. His mates that were involved the hoax came forth and acknowledged that they made up the whole thing. (As far as I can tell, the authors’ response to this was to maintain that their claims were true and to claim that La Plantard was lying about having lied.)

pierre-le-plantardPierre La Plantard (AKA Pierre Christ)

I knew that the Priory of Sion was made up before I read this book, and that made it a fairly excruciating experience. The ‘evidence’ presented in here is taken from novels, legends, the bible and hearsay, and the authors’ reasoning is absolutely infuriating. You’ll see their approach criticized in any review of this book; it really is terrible. It made me recall that of the protagonists in Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum. (And I would find it very surprising if that novel, written in 1988, was not written partly in response to this book and how it had been received.) Leigh, Lincoln and Baigent accept any tangential idea that pops into their heads as long as it can not be immediately disproved. I have adopted a similar approach below to prove that Adolf Hitler was a descendant of Count Dracula:

Transylvania was under Austrian Hapsburg Rule between 1699 and 1867. This would have meant that things and people from Transylvania would sometimes have found their way back to Austria.

Count Dracula, Transylvania’s most infamous resident, although made famous in an 1897 novel, was actually based on a real person, Vlad the Impaler. Vampyrism is probably not a supernatural condition but some kind of hereditary disease, and so Vlad’s descendants would also have been vampires if he was one, which he probably was.

Did the bloodline of Dracula find its way into Braunau am Inn, the birthplace of Hitler?

Well that would explain a lot. We know that Hitler’s mother was born of peasant stock and had a thing for older men. (Hitlers dad was 23 years her senior.) Would she have been able to resist the charms of a tall, dark stranger with a mysterious foreign accent? I think not. If Vlad, or one of his descendants, had shown up on her doorstep, she would have let them drain her right then and there. Ok, I know at this point our argument might seem a bit tenuous, but if we continue with this line of reasoning, a lot of things begin to make a lot of sense.

Ok, so Hitler’s mother was definitely drained by a vampire, thus becoming a vampire herself. She got pregnant with a vampire baby. She tried to pass it off as her employer’s, but this baby had dark hair, like his real father.

Hitler was certainly responsible for a lot of bloodshed. Think about it dummy: Vampires love blood! Was his body ever found? No; he flew off into the night!

At this stage, anyone with an ounce of sense will agree that Hitler is a vampire and probably still alive. It would be utterly ridiculous to claim otherwise.

I did that in about 10 minutes, and I reckon it’s probably more entertaining  and no less sensible than the work of Leigh, Baigent and Lincoln.

Holy Blood, Holy Grail is a pile of shit, freshly emitted from a large hairy anus. At least the Da Vinci Code was superficially entertaining. This is just embarrassing. I wouldn’t recommend it.

This post marks two years of this blog. I’m going to become a dad at some stage in the next month, so things on here might be a bit slow for a while. Make sure you like the facebook page for future updates. Thanks for all the interest.

Holy Shit, Shitty Hole (2 year Anniversary Post)

Dracula vs Hitler

thebargainfrontcoverThe Bargain – John Ruddy
Knightsbridge – 1990
Although it’s disguised as a novel, Jon Ruddy’s The Bargain is likely the most historically accurate account of the sinister proceedings that brought an end to the second world war that has ever been published. This is the true story of how Count Dracula used an army of vampire whores to bring and end to Third Reich.

It took me approximately one minute to order a copy of this book after seeing an image of its cover online. I don’t regret my purchase. The cover is phenomenal, and the book itself is actually fairly enjoyable. There’s lots of sex, swearing and gore, and it really wouldn’t be fair to expect anything more from a book with that cover. To use Ann Radcliffe‘s distinction, this book is very much a horror novel rather than a tale of terror, and sometimes some straight forward horror is just what I need.
thebargainbackcover
Dracula never died, but he got really annoyed when Hitler invaded Romania, so he  made a bunch of vampire prostitutes and got them to fuck/infect/kill German soldiers. This is very much a Dracula versus Hitler story, and while that is obviously super cool, I was hoping that it would be more of a Dracula and Hitler (up a tree) story. I feel like that these boys would probably like each other, and instead of reading about their rivalry, I’d prefer to see them going out for a beer together. Holy shit, imagine how entertaining it would be if Dracula and Hitler had a weekly podcast where they just shared their stories and opinions. I mean, it would be evil as fuck, but I would definitely listen to it.

I had a fairly similar complaint when I read Dennis Wheatley’s They Used Dark Forces.  That book is about Hitler and black magic, but the dark forces in question are largely being used against Hitler. If I’m reading a novel about Hitler, I want him to be the main bad guy. I want to read allegations of him being a vampire or a black magician. I want a book that explains how Adolf Hitler would drink the blood of a virgin, then sprout wings and fly into the night sky to pay homage to Lucifer, his lord and master. If anyone knows if such a book exists, please let me know!

This book was still pretty sweet though. Read it.

Dracula vs Hitler

A Feast of Blood

coverVarney the Vampyre – James Malcolm Rymer (or maybe Thomas Preskett Prest)
Wordsworth Books – 2010 (Originally serialized from 1845-1847)

I haven’t posted much in the last month because I have been spending my time slogging through this immensely long book. At 1166 pages of very small print, this is undoubtedly the longest novel I have ever read. ‘Novel’ however, maybe isn’t quite the right word to describe this tome; it’s a series of different stories about the eponymous hero that were originally serialised in pamphlet form over the course of several years. Think of it like this: if Stoker’s Dracula can be turned into 2 hour movie, Varney would take a 5 season TV show to do it justice. Just as the book is long, this review is fairly hefty too, so pour yourself a cup of blood before you sit down to read it. If you haven’t read the book, you might want to skip over the sections in red. I say this not because those sections contain devastating spoilers (they don’t), but because they deal with issues that are so perplexing that they may scare you away from ever reading the book.
battyLook at the girth of this thing! It may be thicker than 4 of the other books in this series put together, but it was no more expensive. (Note: Varney is actually not the kind of vampire that can turn into a bat)

The writing is of a pretty decent standard, although there is quite a lot of recapitulation. This may have been included to keep readers up to date with the story if they had missed the last edition (kinda like the Victorian version of “Previously on the X-Files…), but I have read elsewhere that the author was paid by the word, so maybe it was just to take up space. Either way, coherence doesn’t seem to have been a priority, and throughout the tale there are characters that appear without reason and disappear without a trace. Varney himself has several suggested back stories that conflict with the account of his life that he gives at the end of the book, but more on that later. Also, with the exception of Varney himself, nearly all of the dramatis personae are interchangeable stock characters. I lost track of how many pleasant young men named Charles appear throughout the story.

 

The cover of the Wordsworth edition really blows in comparison to the original.

If you check out the librivox audiobook version (I would recommend that you alternate between a hard copy and these mp3s. Doing so allowed me to get through a few chapters every time I had to cook, tidy up or walk anywhere recently.), you’ll notice that Librivox credits Thomas Preskett Prest as the author instead of James Malcolm Rymer. It seems that nobody really knows who wrote the book. Prest took the credit for more than 100 years, but research that I have read ABOUT suggests that the writing style is actually closer to Rymer’s other writings than Prest’s. Also, minor publishing discrepancies in the text correspond to  Rymer’s bankruptcy, suggesting that he was in fact the author. That being said, Rymer and Prest are known to have worked for the same publisher and are believed to have collaborated on other works, so it’s not unlikely that they both contributed to this one. (Apparently Rymer was less than 4 foot tall.)

varneysucksDrinking her blood, straight from the tit.

The book is split into 3 volumes of roughly 400 pages each. (This division seems to have been based on the length of the book rather than by the contents of the volumes.) This edition ends with Chapter 220, but if you were to count the amount of chapters that the book contains, you would notice that there are actually 237. How could this be? Well, Chapters 41-43 don’t exist, Chapter 171 is followed by Chapter 162, and Chapters 195, 210, 197, 118, and 199 appear in that order. These mistakes have been faithfully carried over from the original pamphlets. (The chapter numbering in the audiobook version has been corrected. This was a little frustrating as I went back and forth between that and the text, although if it had retained the original numbers, the playlist of mp3 files would have been completely shagged.) Also, each chapter has a short title, but the titles rarely refer to anything that actually happens within that chapter. The chapter might be titled; “The events in the Parson’s office”, and it would be about a pair of young lovers having a picnic by the seaside. Arbitrary volume and chapter numbers aside, the book can be divided into 11 distinct stories. The first of which takes up the entire first half of the book while the 4th is less than 20 pages. 

hammeredThis poor chap was mistaken for a vampyre. He’s fucked now.

The first section, the events at Bannerworth Hall, is by far the longest and most enjoyable part of the book. The characters here, although they could be lifted directly out of 100 other Victorian novels, at least get to be part of the story for long enough that the reader remembers them. These characters play a smaller role in the second section of the book, and they are only mentioned 2-3 times in the final 400 pages. Their story is never satisfactorily cleared up, and I kept hoping that they would pop up or that the events that were occurring would somehow end up explaining what had happened to them. It seems that the initial followers of the story may have felt the same way;  in one of the final episodes, the author takes pains to clarify that the Bannerworths have all died. I wouldn’t be surprised if this brief allusion served as a response to those readers who had inquired if the Bannerworths were ever going to make a comeback. These loveable characters, we are pleased to find out, have not met with an unsavory end though; it’s just that the events towards the end of the book take place at a much later period of time. As we are soon to see, this epic tale takes place over the course of several centuries.

Here’s a few questions I have regarding the trials and tribulations of the Bannerworth family.

Is Varney the man in the portrait?
There is a portrait in Flora’s bedroom of Runnagate Bannerworth, an ancestor of the family. When the family realises that the vampyre looks exactly like the man in the portrait, they go to exhume Runnagate’s corpse from their family tomb. By the time they get to the tomb,  not only has Runnagate’s name has mysteriously changed to Marmaduke, but his corpse has also disappeared. This is particularly confusing because Marmaduke Bannerworth is also the name of Flora’s father, a confirmed associate of Varney’s. (Plus, one of the initial explanations of Varney’s vampyrism is that he was a suicide victim. Flora’s father also committed suicide. Could Varney be her father? Probably not, but why the similarities?)

Runnagate is said to be 90 years dead, and Marmaduke’s coffin reveals that he was buried in 1640, thereby dating the events at Bannerworth Hall to 1730. Varney is a vampyre though, so these dates don’t really exclude the possibility that he is the man in the portrait. Indeed the fact that Runnagate/Marmaduke’s corpse is not in the coffin suggest very strongly that Varney is their ancestor.

Varney later admits that he is a distant relation of the Bannerworths and that he was also a friend of their father. He claims that he had seen the portrait when he was friends with their father and deliberately tried to look like it in order to scare the family. This explanation however, does not account for the missing corpse from the tomb.

Much later on, in a different episode, Varney explains that he became a vampyre after crossing Oliver Cromwell after the death of Charles 1st. (This means that he didn’t become a vampyre until at least 1649, almost a decade after the death of Runnagate/Marmaduke Bannerworth.) He also explains that at this time he was living in London and known as Mortimer. (This is also bizarre as Varney is later to be hung by a different nasty man named Mortimer.)

In the 225th chapter (Chapter 208 in the book) Varney claims that he remembers “being hunted through the streets of London in the reign of Henry the Fourth.” Henry the 4th died of leprosy in 1413, meaning that if Varney is telling the truth, he was at least 235 years old when he became a vampyre. There is a gap of 1000 pages between the accounts of Runnagate’s portait and Mortimer’s contretemps with Cromwell, so we can forgive the author for a discrepancy of 9 years, but Varney’s account of being chased during the 1400s is placed only 12 pages apart from his encounter with Cromwell.

By his own account, Varney is not the man in the portait in Flora’s bedroom, but do we really believe him? All of his origin stories can’t be true, and he’s never exactly made out to be a particularly honest individual. While he explained that he had deliberately tried to make himself look like Runnagate/Marmaduke Bannerworth, he never explained where the body of said individual was or how it escaped from its coffin. Also, it should be remembered that Runnagate/Marmaduke’s coffin not only contained no corpse, but neither did it contain any signs of ever containing a decomposing body. If Varney is not Runnagate/Marmaduke, Runnagate/Marmaduke is still likely to be a vampyre.

varney-red
What happens to George Bannerworth?
He appears as the weakling younger brother in the first few chapters of the book, but soon disappears, never to be mentioned again. We are given enough information about his timidity to presume that this will be an issue for him at some stage, but he never gets a chance to shine. Lil bitch.

What happens to Dr. Chillingsworth?
The last we hear from him, he goes to London in search of Varney. We know that something happens to him afterwards that convinces him of the existence of vampyres. A note written by him appears in one of the final chapters of the book explaining so, the appearance of which left me with a genuine feeling of excitement. Varney does end up in London for a while in one of the later episodes; did they meet there? I had a theory that Chillingsworth was the mysterious stranger who follows Varney to Anderbury and gets murdered in the ice-pit, but he actually appears elsewhere afterwards, so it can’t have been him.

Who the fuck was the Hungarian Nobleman and what did he want?
Just as Varney starts to warm to the Bannerworths, a strange Hungarian nobleman shows up in the village in search of him. We find out that he is willing to pay a high price to find Varney, but he himself becomes suspected of being a vampyre and gets run out of town before Varney is found. There is no explanation given as to why he is looking for Varney, and no more is said about him after he is chased from the town. In one of the final episodes, Varney attends a vampyre initiation ceremony with several of his kin. One asks if he knew the Bannerworths, and he responds; “I did. You came to see me, I think, at an inn.” That is the extent of the conversation that appears 475 pages after the last mention of this character. Ahhh, sweet closure at last!

Who the shitting fuck was murdered in the ice-pit?
Towards the end of the first episode, Varney disappears. (The transition between the first and second episode is the only transition between episodes that carries over characters.) Soon thereafter, two strangers show up in a town a few miles distant from Bannerworth Hall. One of them, we know, has to be Varney, but the identity of the other is never made clear.

I think it was the Hungarian Nobleman. He’s the only character from the first section that’s unaccounted for. He had been confirmed as a vampyre and fled for safety without having achieved his goal of speaking to Varney. We know that he had been looking for Varney, but we were not sure of his motives. When Dr. Chillingsworth is mugged, we are inclined to give Varney the benefit of the doubt as he has seemingly made his peace with the Bannerworths, but if it wasn’t Varney, it has to have been the Hungarian Nobleman; he’s the only other bad guy alive at this stage! When it turns out that both of the mysterious strangers are vampyres, it only makes sense that one of them is the Hungarian.

However, when these two vamps meet near the end of the book, not a word is said about the fact that one of them has stabbed the other in the throat and thrown his corpse into an ice-pit. In fairness though, after the victim of this crime was revived by the moon, he snuck into the murderer’s bedroom and stole his jewels. Maybe they just decided to let bygones be bygones… Who knows? 

What happened to the Quaker whom Admiral Bell kicked up the hole?
Perhaps the greatest mystery of all. This storyline gets a considerable build up, but it’s never resolved.

booBleh!

There are, of course, plenty of other plot holes in the remainder of the book, but the cast of characters and plotlines in the later episodes are not nearly as memorable or complicated. Most of the episodes follow the formula of Varney trying to marry a beautiful young woman only to be foiled right before the marriage ceremony. (There are at least 4 chapter titles that include the phrase ‘the wedding morning’.) The middle episodes start to feel cartoonish in their repetitiveness, but the final two episodes end the book on a slightly more existential note. The penultimate episode has Varney playing the role of a hero rather than a villain, but the lack of satisfaction he receives from acting so convinces him to kill himself. His suicide attempt is thwarted by a pair of altruistic brothers, and when he is brought back to life, he gets super pissed off. He decides that if he can’t feel happiness that he will make sure that those around him don’t feel it either, and he gives what is perhaps the finest villainous speech that I have ever read. I’m going to include it here in its entirety, because unfortunately, I doubt that many people will actually make it far enough into the book to get to enjoy this exquisite piece of misanthropic bile:

“Since death is denied to me, I will henceforward shake off all human sympathies. Since I am compelled to be that which I am, I will not be that and likewise suffer all the pangs of doing deeds at which a better nature that was within me revolted. No, I will from this time be the bane of all that is good and great and beautiful. If I am forced to wander upon the earth, a thing to be abhorred and accursed among men, I will perform my mission to the very letter as well as the spirit, and henceforth adieu all regrets, adieu all feeling — all memory of goodness — of charity to human nature, for I will be a dread and a desolation! Since blood is to be my only sustenance, and since death is denied to me, I will have abundance of it — I will revel in it, and no spark of human pity shall find a home in this once racked and tortured bosom. Fate, I thee defy!”

Holy fuck, that is pure heavy metal.

varney-wakesVarney arises!

Whether or not Varney is actually a vampyre isn’t determined until you’re well into the story, and the first 750 pages of the book contain only 2 short instances of vampyric activity. Things get bloodier in the second half as the stories come to focus on Varney and his exploits. He oscillates between being a decent lad and a murderous villain, so much so that I was genuinely surprised at the violent acts he would sometimes suddenly commit. Although the latter episodes are definitely more gory, far more people are stabbed or shot than are drained of their blood; this is more of an adventure novel than a horror story. That being said, there are a few chapters set in moonlit churchyards and charnel houses to which you can stroke your Gothic boner. So much of what we have come to expect from a vampyre story comes directly from this book, and you’ll find a million other reviews discussing how it’s the source of many of our modern ‘Vampire tropes’. Why then, does everyone give that credit to Dracula? Well, Dracula is much scarier, Bram Stoker took all of the best bits from Varney, twisted them around a bit, and shaped them into a far superior book.

diebitchAnd fucking stay dead!

Montague Summers described Varney the Vampyre as being “far ghostlier than” and “a very serious rival to” Dracula. The book was out of print when he wrote that though, so that might have just been him trying to be the cool guy who liked the less popular work. I definitely wouldn’t go as far as Monty in this case, but I did really enjoy this book. I mean, it’s deeply flawed, but if you take it for what it is, i.e., complete trash, it’s d_____d enjoyable. It’s exceedingly obvious that the author/authors were making it up as they went along, and a lot of it doesn’t stand up to scrutinous examination, but if you like stories about graveyards, ghouls, chivalrous gentlemen, foul mouthed sailors, bloody murders,  and heaving bosoms, this will entertain you greatly. I fucking loved it, and it has me looking forward to reading more of the Penny Dreadfuls that have come out in the Wordsworth Tales of Mystery and the Supernatural series. I have Wagner the Werewolf by Reynolds on my shelf, and I know they have also put out The String of Pearls, the other work by Rymer and Prest.

 

A Feast of Blood

Vampires and Vampirism – Montague Summers

Image2
Dover – 2005 (Originally published as The Vampire: His Kith and Kin in 1929)
This is Montague Summers‘ first book on Vampires, and as much as I love the author, I have to admit that this was a rather dry read. I actually started this book to make sure that I would understand references that I might have encountered in another book I’ve been reading; Varney the Vampyre. As it turns out, that book is referenced in this book, but it contains very few references to vampire lore. (Varney is fucking DEADLY though. Expect to see it reviewed here in a few weeks.) Anyway, there’s 5 chapters in Summers’ book, and I’m going to go through each one.

1.The Origins of the Vampire
Here Summers explains several of the different elements that may have created and/or fed into the vampire legend. It includes copious stories of the reanimated dead, ghosts, premature burials and a huge section on incorruptible corpses. Apparently, there’s two ways that a corpse can remain incorrupt; the person has to have been either really good or really bad.

This chapter also includes a frustratingly multilingual section on necrophilia and necrosadism. Unfortunately the more lurid details are only given in French or Ancient Greek. I’m not joking; whenever Monty wants to give some really grisly details, he’ll switch languages. My French is poor, but it was good enough know that I was missing out on the best bits, particularly the story about the Garcon who said. “Que voulez-vous, chacun a ses passions. Moi le cadavre, c’est la mienne!”

(I have found an online version of the text, and I’ve just spent 10 minutes pasting those bits into google translate. It was worth it; my necrosadistic desires have now been satiated.)

2. Generation of the Vampire
This is all about how vampires become vampires. It mostly deals with excommunication from the church. Montague Summers knew a lot about the history of the church, and he wants to make sure that his readers are aware of this. Pretty boring stuff to be honest.

3. Traits and Practice of Vampirism
There’s a lot about suicide in this chapter, including some fascinating stuff on Russian suicide cults. Apparently one group of these fucking lunatics built a huge building with no doors or windows that was only accessible from a trap door in the roof. They’d jump in through the trap door and then they’d starve to death. Imagine the stench, the anxiety, the shame and the regret that these people had to endure until their dying moments.

4. The Vampire in Ancient Countries
I was expecting this section to be a bit boring, but it was actually quite interesting. It’s about the different types of vampiric ghouls that have cropped up around the world through history. I think that the sequel to this book, The Vampire in Lore and Legend (1929), takes up where this chapter leaves off.

5.The Vampire in Literature
This section was definitely the most disappointing, disappointing because I expected it to be the most interesting. This is just a bunch of summaries of different plays based on John Polidori’s story, The Vampyre. The summaries given are so detailed that I skipped through most of them; I didn’t want to ruin the stories in case I ever come across the original texts. Not only does this chapter contain the summaries of these plays; it also contains extensive lists of their cast members. This chapter is full of boring information, but it says very little.

Image1The pictures in this book are bizarre. I don’t remember why this mad woman is in there.
Overall, this is a decently interesting read even if it does get dry as fuck at times. There’s 5 chapters, and the way they’re structured seems a bit arbitrary, particularly the first 3. However, the worst thing about this book is that it’s full of quotes in different languages but contains no translations. If you really wanted to get the most out of this, you’d need to speak Ancient Greek, Latin, French and German. This is a bit different to the author’s books on witchcraft too. It serves more as an explanation as to how the Vampire legend developed than it does as proof of the Vampire’s existence. Monty never denies that vampires exist, but he doesn’t spend much time trying to convince you that they do.  As mentioned above, he wrote another book on vampires, but I reckon it’ll be a while before I get around to that one.

Image3Clearly a case of Lycanthropy rather than Vampirism, but a cool picture nonetheless. Could this be the instance spoken of by the great one?

Vampires and Vampirism – Montague Summers

Mysteries of the Unknown – Time Life (Part One)

2015-08-21 21.17.48I didn’t want to review these until I had read all of them, but that will probably never happen. This is a 33 volume collection of books on the ‘mysteries of the unknown’. Some of the books are very cool, but a lot of them are extremely lame. (I’d say about half of them are about psychics.) They contain a nice mixture of essays and articles, and they’re all full of fancy pictures. It’s a really nice set to have, and I got mine for fairly cheap. I find that they’re quite good if you read them as primers before getting stuck into more difficult/older books on the same topics. I’m going to briefly review three of them today, and I’ll do some more in a few months. 20150821_210412The full collection

Ancient Wisdom and Secret Sects
2015-08-21 21.53.15
I read this one a good while ago. It’s probably the best introductory book on secret societies that I have read. That’s not saying much really, as I have only read three such books. What I am trying to say is that this is a far better introduction to secret societies than Arkon Daraul’s piece of shit. It goes into detail on the assassins, the masons, the Rosicrucians and the Golden Dawn. I thought it was pretty enjoyable.

2015-08-21 21.15.52
This is some bullshitty Golden Dawn picture from the book. The bird at the bottom has serious attitude and the lad at the top is wearing a wiggy.

Speaking of the Golden Dawn, I went to the Yeats exhibition last time I was in Dublin, and I took some pictures of his occulting stuff. Here they are:
2015-08-21 21.45.09
Sorry William, but that Angel is fucking lame.

2015-08-21 21.45.54 2015-08-21 21.46.17
Another notebook and some dodgy tarot cards.

Transformations
2015-08-21 22.07.50
This one was pretty good too. It’s mostly about vampires and werewolves. It discusses the potential causes of vampirism and lycanthropy without getting too bullshitty. There was also a nice section on Vlad the Impaler, and it has lots of cool pictures, including this saucy snap of Theda Barra.
20150821_211030What a babe!

Mysterious Creatures
2015-08-21 22.07.32

This one mainly focuses on Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. I like the fact that these books give fairly objective accounts: They don’t try to disprove anything, but they don’t feel bullshitty either. I don’t believe in the Loch Ness monster at all, but I do think that Bigfoot COULD exist.
2015-08-21 21.16.30
This lad also made a brief appearance. He is wrecked.

My lovely wife and I recently celebrated our wedding anniversary in Harrison, British Columbia. Harrison is a bigfoot hotspot and home to Sasquatch Park. We didn’t see one while we were there, but it’s a really nice place. I would definitely recommend going if you get the chance.
IMG-20150817-WA0010

20150817_173920The entrance to our suite

20150817_234336 20150817_234130 20150817_234200
These were in our hotel room. They give some background information and tips on what to do if you encounter a Sasquatch.

20150817_191830
Spot 10 differences.

Mysteries of the Unknown – Time Life (Part One)

Le Fanu’s Short Stories

2015-07-07 16.49.31
Sheridan Le Fanu – Madam Crowl’s Ghost & Other Stories / In A Glass Darkly
Wordsworth Editions – 2006 and 2008

Here are two collections of short stories from one of my favourite writers. I would recommend the Oxford edition of In A Glass Darkly, as that one contains nice notes at the back. Wordsworth editions are bare bones and rarely contain annotation. They are cheap however, and I own quite a few of them.

In A Glass Darkly is the better of the two collections. It’s been a few years since I read it, but I distinctly remember the joy I felt when the evil monkey appeared the first story. It’s also great because it contains lesbian vampires in a vampire story that predates Dracula. I think my favourite story in here is the novella: The Room in Le Dragon Volant. It’s not as spooky as the others, but I really like Le Fanu’s writing

Madam Crowl’s Ghost is a nice collection of ghost stories compiled by none other than M.R James. I read this one more recently, but I read the first two stories on a transatlantic flight and didn’t end up enjoying them as much as I would have were I to read them on the couch at midnight with a cup of peppermint tea. The stories in here are collected from different sources, and the quality and tone varies quite a bit. Some are great though, and most of them are set in Ireland, many taking place in Dublin. You can imagine my sheer delight on finding a story in here about a Dublin man who shares my name. I loved this book, but the other collection is probably a better place to start if you haven’t read Le Fanu before.

Le Fanu’s Short Stories

The Irish Gothic

irish gothic Well it’s Saint Patrick’s day on Tuesday, and what better way to celebrate Irishness than to review some classic Gothic Literature from the Emerald Isle. I won’t go into too much detail as all three of these novels are absolute classics, and I expect anyone who is following this blog to have read them all.

The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
Dell – 1978

dorian
Dorian looking a bit scaldy.

This novel is great. It’s been a long time since I read it though. Either way, I won’t hear a word said against our Oscar. It’s a pity he didn’t write more novels. 7.5/10

Uncle Silas – Sheridan Le Fanu
Oxford – 1981
silas
Howiye Maud?

This is one of my favourite books of all time. It’s standard Gothic fare really; a young girl loses her parent and she has to go live in creepy uncle’s house. The chapter in which Maud, the protagonist, encounters her repulsive governess for the first time had me shitting in my britches. The way that creepy bitch comes down the hill is absolutely CHILLING.

My edition of the novel is nicely annotated, and there is one note that I found particularly amusing. “414 a clumsy old press: in Ireland and Scotland, press = cupboard” Visiting my in-laws would be so much easier if I could get that printed on a t-shirt.

Anyways, this book is magnificent. If you like Jane Eyre or The Mysteries of Udolpho, then this is the book for you. If that doesn’t sound like your thing, then sorry, but we can’t be friends.

Dracula – Bram Stoker
Penguin – 1994
dracula
Nice ‘tache Drac. (Sweet diddys too!)

Well, this is obviously one of the greatest novels ever written. This was also one of the first books that I read after graduating from university. I had just spent four years reading books that had been selected by other people, and to have the freedom to choose a book according to my own tastes was tremendous. I remember actually looking forward to going to bed at night, just so I could get stuck into this absolute masterpiece.

I’ve always had an interest in ghosts and monsters: I grew up watching Ghostbusters and reading Goosebumps, and I’ve always preferred horror films to any other genre. I was expecting to enjoy this book, but I was not expecting to be frightened. Well, I was; there are parts of this book that are damned scary. There’s nothing in here that I hadn’t seen in a hundred movies; but reading Dracula, I realized that all of those movies had used this book as a template to produce their scares. I was spooked good and proper when the lads start to go missing on the boat as the count is lurking in the shadows. Pure deadly.

There’s also some weird sexiness to this novel. That’s not just something that Hollywood added to make the film versions more successful. There’s a lot of heaving breasts in here. Mina and Lucy sound like absolute babes. The count is a kinky one too, check this out:
With his left hand he held both Mrs. Harker’s hands, keeping them away with her arms at full tension; his right hand gripped her by the back of the neck, forcing her face down on his bosom. Her white nightdress was smeared with blood, and a thin stream trickled down the man’s bare breast which was shown by his torn-open dress. The attitude of the two had a terrible resemblance to a child forcing a kitten’s nose into a saucer of milk to compel it to drink.
Dracula! She’s a married woman, ye dirty bowsy!!! And you’d think he’d be satisfied with those lovely vampire wenches he keeps in his castle. I’ll tell ye now, if I was a single man I’d have no bleedin’ bother lettin’ them have a little suck, wha?

Anyways, I’ll give this a perfect 10/10. If you haven’t read this book, you have no reason to be wasting your time reading this blog.

There are other fantastic works of Gothic fiction to have emerged from Ireland. Charles Maturin’s Melmoth the Wanderer might seem like a glaring omission from this post, but I have a plan to review that later on in conjunction with another book. I’m also planning to review more of Le Fanu’s works in the near future.

I think it’s rather interesting to note that all three of the authors reviewed in this post were Dublin protestants. (Maturin, who was incidentally Oscar Wilde’s great-uncle, was also a Church of Ireland clergyman.) These three books were also written within 50 years of each other. You’d wonder what the Church of Ireland were putting in their non-transubstantial eucharist to get their congregation to be such creeps. I’ve read that Dracula represents Stoker’s alienation from the largely Catholic Ireland, but I reckon it was just dodgy proddy communion wafers.

These books are all savage. Fuck going to the parade this St. Patrick’s day; read one of these smashers instead.

The Irish Gothic