Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Vintage Vampire Stories – review

Editors: Robert Eighteen-Bisang & Richard Dalby

First Published: 2011

Contains spoilers

The blurb: Long lost to the public in out-of-print pulp magazines, dusty Victorian anthologies, and the pages of now defunct newspapers—these vintage vampire stories have truly proved immortal. Resurrected now for the year 2011, this is a stunning collection of nineteenth-century vampire stories by heavyweights such as Sabine Baring-Gould and Bram Stoker. These rare stories are arranged in chronological order from 1846 to 1913 and are compiled by two of the world’s leading vampire anthologists and experts. Also included are rare images of Bram Stoker’s handwritten manuscript pages for Count Vampire (1890) courtesy of the Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia.

The review: I am really torn over this one. It does contain some very important early vampire stories – indeed I specifically featured the Vampire; or, Pedro Pacheco and the Bruxa (1863) and the Blood Drinking Corpse (1679). As such I would be straying towards this being essential, but there are problems.

Putting in a handful of Stoker’s notes does not make for them being a story in their own right, for instance, and whilst interesting for some, for other readers I can imagine they were just padding. More so for those of us who have the facsimile of all the notes. The story A Kiss of Judas (1893) by Julian Osgood Field was, debatably, not actually a vampire story – though it did carry some tropes. Equally the story Herself (1894) by Mary Elizabeth Braddon had some aspects that might have equated to energy vampirism but would definitely need a ‘Vamp or Not?’ That said I could see arguments as to why they both deserved inclusion.

What was unforgivable, however, was the endless parade of typos that stood glaringly from the page. Typos happen, I understand, but the editing process was clearly slipshod, and if the book is going to be of use to a student of the media vampire then accuracy should have been strived for. That pushes the score down, I’m afraid, to 5 out of 10. Get the volume, I say, to get these rare stories together. But beware the typos and, if the editors read this, you need to do a second edition with a decent proofreading process.

3 comments:

JaredMithrandir said...

I own this book, haven't read everything in it yet but I like it.

Vampire or not Herself is a good story I think and would recommend it.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

The stories in are a mixed bag (and I did like Herself but was torn on the vampness of it) some are excellent but others were a tad pedestrian.

I too recommend it (as I said in the review, the rare early stories are worthwhile) but it is full of typos, unfortunately

JaredMithrandir said...

I didn't notice the Typos in the stores I read, but I do notice them often in BlackCoatPress books, sadly I'm responsible for a few in TOTS10.

I also liked Herself for it's maybe unintentional Lesbian subtext.