Banned Books: Frankenstein

Mary W.  Shelley, feminist and banned book author

Did you know this is Banned Books Week? I love books, especially banned ones! I say any book someone says you shouldn’t read just makes me want to read it more!

My favorite Banned Book of all time is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. She started the story when she was 18 and it was published when she was just 21. The first edition was published anonymously in London in 1818. Shelley’s name appears on the second edition, published in France in 1823.

From wikipedia: The storyline emerged from a dream. Mary, Percy, Lord Byron, and John Polidori decided to have a competition to see who could write the best horror story. After thinking for weeks about what her possible storyline could be, Shelley dreamt about a scientist who created life and was horrified by what he had made. She then wrote Frankenstein.

Check out my post about Polidori here: The Vampyre, A Tale

Banned! Because it proposed man as God. Banned! Because Shelly’ was a feminist and forward-thinker.

What is your favorite Banned Book?

Check out this link to read about the latest additions: http://bannedbooksweek.org/

What is your favorite Banned Book? Click this link to find out some of the latest titles on the list.

Banned! Because it proposed man as God. Banned! Because Shelly’ was a feminist and forward-thinker.

Who’s That Knocking on my Coffin Lid? Vampires, Magical Creatures Part Three

Lovers of True Blood, Dracula devotees, and Twilight tweens: I offer you the ancient vamps of my Magical Creatures series!

These are the stories that Stephenie Meyer and Anne Rice read when they were but wee babes, suckling on their mothers (or the  neck of their mother). These are the groundwork stories about vampirism, both horrific, romantic, and psychic.

Currently available exclusively as e-books, these are found volumes of forgotten lore (many a quaint and curious tale!) and cover the realm of such creepy and cool beings as goblins, werewolves, vampires, banshees, mermaids, and phookas, to name but a few.

(If the response is positive on these little e-beasts, I’ll be expanding them into book form!!)

Horror devotees will recall the story of the infamous gathering at a lake house outside of Geneva, Switzerland in the summer of 1816 where a small party celebrated the settling darkness by reading ghost stories aloud to one another. Present were the host, Lord Byron, and his guests: Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft (Shelley) and her sister, and Lord Byron’s physician—John William Polidori. At the prompting of Byron, pens were set to paper to write ghost stories of their own. Here the groundwork was laid for what would become Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a Modern Prometheus. Shelley himself wrote Fragments of a Ghost Story, and Byron wrote something called Fragment of a Novel. This “fragment” became the basis for Polidori’s The Vampyre, A Tale—the first vampire novel published in English, some seventy years before Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Also in the vampire collection, are two lesser known tales by Bram Stoker: Burial of the Rats and Dracula’s Guest. Both were part of a collection of stories that Stoker had been working on but never published. After his death, his widow decided they were fit for print and submitted them to his publisher in 1914. And Théophile Gautier’s Clarimonde is by far one of the most controversial vampire stories from the early 19th Century. A would-be priest begins to doubt his path and his God when he meets (by chance?) fair Clarimonde. I won’t give it all away but this is some necromantic romance at its best! And finally, George Sylvester Viereck’s 1907 short story The House of the Vampire was the first novel to introduce psychic vampires.

You can purchase these little digital gems following the links below:

The Vampyre: A Tale by Varla Ventura and John William Polidori (Amazon) (B&N)

The Burial of the Rats by Varla Ventura and Bram Stoker (Amazon) (B&N)

Dracula’s Guest by Varla Ventura and Bram Stoker (Amazon) (B&N)

Clarimonde by Varla Ventura and Théophile Gautier (Amazon)

The House of the Vampire by Varla Ventura and George Sylvester Viereck (Amazon) (B&N)

Beware the Scandanavian Christmas Troll!!!

Lock up your daughters. And your sons! No child, strike that, no mortal is safe in the dark hours of Christmas Eve. For there lurks the Christmas troll, drunk on spirits and cavorting with the witches, waiting to trick you into a midnight ride.

Early 20th century author Clement A. Miles was a historian and an amateur anthropologist of sorts. His 1912 collection of Christmas traditions he deemed “both Pagan and Christian” is not just a cross-cultural look at the origins of Santa Claus. Here you will find werewolves, bogeys, and trolls. You will find curses and hexes and imminent death, rituals of the dead and goblin offerings. You will be warned of The Devil and cautioned against laziness. If you are in Bavaria, take heed of the Berchte—a wretched bogey who cuts the stomachs open of naughty children. And at all costs, do not walk outside alone should you ever find yourself in Greece during the Twelve Days of Christmas. For there lurks the most horrid beast of all: the Kallikantzaroi  or Karkantzaroi, a horrid half-human, half-animal monstrosity that plays tricks and ravages households, often leaving the occupants dead. Some say it is a mortal man transformed into a beastly creature, others say it is manifested from the supernatural beyond.

If you want to learn more about these horrifying hellhounds of Yule, join me on Friday the 23rd of December, at 10pm PST on Coast to Coast where George Noory and I will speak of things evil and strange, quirky and creepy, funny and festive!

Coast to Coast is a live show that you can listen to via your local AM radio station. Visit their website for a list of stations and times. And don’t forget, you can call in with your own tales of terror!! Open lines in the second hour.

Vampire Meets Frankenstein

Or maybe, in this case, it is the other way around. You fans of horror (you are fans of horror, right?!?) may recall the story of the birth of one of the best horror novels of all time–Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Mary Wollstonecraft (Shelley) were reading ghost stories aloud to one another one stormy night at Byron’s lake house in Geneva, Switzerland. Byron prompted his partygoers to write a ghostly tale of their own. Out of this came the beginnings of Frankenstein, a Modern Prometheus.  As it happened, John William Polidori was also there that fated night. Personal physician to Lord Byron and a writer as a past time, Polidori crafted The Vampyre, A Tale from a sketch of a story that Byron composed that same evening. Often wrongly advertised as a story by Byron himself, The Vampyre has remained a relatively obscure tale of terror. The first vampire story published in English, Polidori’s work predates the seminal Bram Stoker’s Dracula by more than seventy years.

Check it out here, at the Amazon kindle store. Available soon in multiple formats for any digital reader of your choosing.

The Vampyre

Available also for your Nook:

The Vampyre

This book is part of the Magical Creatures, A Weiser Books Collection that I am delighted to be curating. There are four more available now as well as five titles in the Paranormal Parlor collection! All curated by me, Varla. That’s right, I’ve been combing through the cobwebs to find you volumes of forgotten lore!

John Polidori, Lord Byron's doc!