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This review is from: The Lair of the White Worm & The Lady of the Shroud (Tales of Mystery & The Supernatural) (Paperback)
This book contains two novels by Bram Stoker. The Lady of the Shroud was published in 1909, and The Lair of the White Worm in 1911. The latter of these two is a short novel and is the more famous of the two. To avoid disappointment at the risk of giving the game away The Lady of the Shroud is not a horror tale, but a good old boys own adventure story. I thought that I had better warn you in case you were hoping for some great undiscovered horror masterpiece.
The Lair of the White Worm
This tale takes place in 1860's England, and if you have seen Ken Russell's film then you should try to forget it whilst reading this tale. I believe that after Dracula this was his next most popular novel, and indeed I have read it a few times.
After being contacted by his grand-uncle, Richard Salton, Adam Salton comes from Australia to meet him and they strike up an instant friendship, also he does with Richard's friend Sir Nathaniel (who in some ways is similar to Van Helsing). Whilst he is in England he comes in contact with Edgar Caswall, who has come to claim his inheritance. Also he meets Lady Arabella, the slinkily dressed lady of fortune. Adam falls in love and so do Sir Nathaniel, but Lady Arabella has her eye on Edgar, after all he has a title and is rich.
There is something not quite right about Lady Arabella and as the story continues you find out who or what she really is. Edgar Caswall also seems to be going mad. There are a lot of legends in the area, especially about a mysterious Worm. Some people point to the legend of the Worm of Lambton for the inspiration for this, and indeed that legend is mentioned in the tale, but also there are a few such legends throughout the country. This story falls right into the horror genre and has some nice gruesome moments.
The Lady of the Shroud
This story is set mainly in 1907. With its opening sequence of a woman in a burial shroud rowing her coffin across the waters you would be led to believe that this is an outright horror, but you would be sadly mistaken.
Rupert St Leger, usually spelt and pronounced Sent Leger by his ancestors, is left the bulk of the monies and property of his uncle when he dies, much to the consternation of other family members. However there is a clause in the will that requires Rupert to carry out a mission. Rupert is an honourable man and is also something of an adventurer so he readily undertakes the mission.
Travelling to a small Balkan State to carry out his uncle's instructions Rupert soon falls in love with the mysterious lady of the shroud. Despite not knowing her name, and allowing for the fact that to all intents and purposes she seems to be a vampire Rupert marries this woman in a midnight ceremony. But has Rupert really married a vampire, or is there a much more interesting but innocent explanation?
The Balkan State that Rupert is residing in is currently under threat from the Ottoman Empire and in a story that takes in kidnap and incursions there is more than enough to keep most readers satisfied. With enough derring-do and heroic exploits, and a hint of the horror and sci-fi genres there is a lot in this tale. If you like the exploits of Richard Hannay or 'The Prisoner of Zenda' then you should love this.
All in all this book containing two novels is well worth reading and will supply you with a few hours of pure escapism. However you should be warned that both these tales can get a bit too melodramatic at times, but this all of the fun of reading them.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Apr 2014 10:55:53 BDT
Angular Square says:
The Lair of the White Worm is Unreadably poor. Nonsensical and xenophobic.
In reply to an earlier post on 10 Apr 2014 13:16:30 BDT
M. Dowden says:
Personally I quite enjoy it, it is of its time and what you would expect. No one would ever accuse Bram Stoker of being a great writer though. : )
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