Friday, February 25, 2011
Edition first published: 2004
The Blurb: Ruthven is a demon. Ruthven is a Vampire! His love is death
The implacable Lord Ruthven returns in a new, horror-filled story where the deadliest vampire of all comes face-to-face with an even more fearsome enemy—a female Ghoul of great necromantic powers. Both Ruthven and the Ghoul covet the same humans. The shadow-filled castles of Europe become the stage for the ultimate confrontation between Vampire and Ghoul—and those who dare defy them!
The character of the Byronesque vampire Lord Ruthven was first created in 1816 by John William Polidori on the same night that Mary Shelley created Frankenstein.
The volume includes an 1851 sequel, presented here in its original form, written by Alxandre Dumas, the famous author of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte-Cristo.
The book also includes an all-new story in which Dumas himself meets Ruthven in 1850s Paris, by renowned playwright and translator Frank J Morlock.
The review: The second of the Blackcoat Press Ruthven books is almost fully taken up by the Dumas play The Return of Lord Ruthven, which takes the Ruthven story forward and sets its tale in Spain, Brittany and Circassia. Dumas includes in his tale Ruthven dying and being taken to a mountainside below the rays of the moon for his rebirth. He also ups the ante for Ruthven, making him require the blood of two virgins per annum and makes him a creature sworn to Satan.
Even more interesting is the female Ghoul. What separates these from vampires in Dumas tale? Truthfully not too much. We hear that the Ghoul is “evil-doing, murderous, the spectral woman, wearing the appearance of beauty, the forms of youth to better conceal her snares and attacking especially young men, the handsomer, the fresher, the better—whose blood they drink with delight.” These then seem almost a precursor to the femme fatale vamp, but with her blood drinking intact.
They tell the tale of a man who married a Ghoul who, “seeing her eat for nourishment only some little grains of rice with little ivory chop sticks, followed her one night to his great terror—make one of those bloody meals”. This is reminiscent of the story of the Ghoul that, in his Vampires and Vampirism, Dudley Wright cites as coming from The One Thousand and One Nights, regarding a bride groom who discovers his bride sneaks from the bed chamber to feast on corpses with the ghouls and subsequently has no appetite for mortal food.
What is unusual is that the Ghoul, Ziska, actually seems to be a good character – despite also being sworn to Satan – and she is so because she is actually in love with the main human hero.
Morlock’s original tale is an interesting little tale where Dumas’ son discovers that his father wrote the play to expose the vampires, including Ruthven, who plagued the Parisian streets and held their secrecy through convoluted conspiracy, how they ruined him and how Dumas managed to rid France of them.
Again, for the genre fan and student alike, an absolutely necessary play and thus a welcome volume. 7.5 out of 10 for the volume.