Saturday, September 26, 2009

Vampires – Stories of the Supernatural – review

Author: Alexis Tolstoy

Volume published: 1969

Contains spoilers

When I featured the story Family of the Vourdalak as an interesting short, friend of the blog Olliemugwump mentioned this volume, a rare volume from 1969 that collects that short with three other tales.

The first story is “The Vampire”, penned by Tolstoy in 1841. This is a rollercoaster of a tale. We get the vampires or oupyr, who can be destroyed by ramming a stake between their shoulder blades, reveal themselves to each other with clicks of the tongue and, in the case of at least one, feast on their immediate family. We also get familial curses, hallucinations, ghostly visitations, intrigue, devil worship and a lamia. It is a story that deserves a film, and as I read it I imagined it as a Roger Corman production – at his peak – perhaps with a Masque of the Red Death sensibility.

Next is the erstwhile mentioned “Family of the Vourdalak” and that is followed by “The Reunion After Three Hundred Years”. Whilst this is a ghost story it is more than interesting as it prequels Vourdalak – indicating what occurred between d’Urfé and the Duchess de Gramont that set him on his course to Moldavia.

The final story is “Amena”, a story of pagan Gods, the Roman attack on Christianity and a cursed man. The curse is bestowed upon him by Amena and whilst there is no definitive vampiric activity it is bestowed by a bite and renders the man immortal.

The volume has occasional but glorious illustrations by Mel Fowler and the stories were translated by Fedor Nikanov.

Of course Vourdalak is the story that has had the most defining impact on the genre but this is a must have collection of 19th Century stories for the discerning vampire fan. 7.5 out of 10.


Anonymous said...

This does sound really good -- thanks for posting the review. You said the volume is rare (I see the 1969 pub date) -- is it still available today, do you know?

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Nicole, the volume was printed in 1969 and not, as far as I know, reprinted. The stories will be available in other volumes but I don't know of any others that collect them all together... That said I picked it up second hand from Amazon marketplace (it was actually the US amazon)

Unknown said...

Not available on Amazon right now. The first one is very interesting, I though Hammer started directly linking Vampire to Satanism.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

it is one that only appears occasionaly on market place I'm afraid

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Sorry, didn't respond to the Hammer comment - you are right, they talk about the Cult of Vampirism, but definitely connect it with Satanism.

In Twins of Evil it is confirmed that only those dedicated to Satan will turn, Satanic Rites of Dracula speaks for itself but when we see Dracula, in that movie, upside down with Hawthorn wrapped around his head it is clearly showing him as the anti-christ