Monday, November 18, 2013

Dracula's Guest: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Vampire Stories edited by Michael Sims (2010)

My sweet Dr. Mystery got me a copy of Dracula's Guest: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Vampire Stories edited by Michael Sims* (2010) for my birthday last year, and since we are almost to my birthday this year, I figured I ought to read the thing.

This is a solid collection of vampire stories, both Victorian and near-Victorian, and is readable as much for the supernatural content as it is for a glimpse into historic popular fiction. Sims gives us a solid introduction to the book as a whole as well as brief introductory essays for each story in the book giving some information on the author and context to the story itself.

Most of these stories were new to me, although I had read Fitz-James O'Brien's "What Was It?" before (and OMG if you haven't ever read it, click on that link and check it out. So excellent and weird and sad and funny.) The other stories in the book feature both male and female and old school and new school vampires. There are a lot of academics making lonely journeys into tombs with ominous histories in order to study ancient frescoes (bad idea), and a lot of men and women in the prime of life quickly losing their vitality and dying. There are a few goofy stories and some serious potboilers, but the collection also includes a good number of legitimately freaky tales. Definitely recommended.

*I've read one other Michael Sims book, Adam's Navel: A Natural and Cultural History of the Human Form (2003), which I really liked and wrote about in 2005 when I was very first starting to write book reviews on this blog (hey, remember when I used to write other stuff too -- those were the days...). And then, because there wasn't much on the internet in those days, Sims found my post and wrote me a nice e-mail about it, which I also wrote about.** All this goes to say that I'm predisposed to like the editor of this anthology, even though Josh did not remember that the author had contacted me personally eight years ago.

** In the link above there is also a super cute mention of Amanda linking to me from her Receptionista blog. If you are reading this, you seriously seemed like a celebrity to me in 2005! For anyone following that saga, I have met Amanda in person since then and can confirm that she is very fun and nice and I still read her blog and Tumblr all the time!

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