The past few weeks have been a rollercoaster of everything. Went from critical existence failure to accomplishment and even much earned minor vacation with a hint of hurricane. Now it’s time to read Victorian novels and such like crazy until the new Everest of comps part 2 happen on Nov 15. It’s going to be insane, technically less time and material than the first part but contemporary serials are my thing. I’ve been working on them for years while I’m still relatively new to Victorain culture literature outside of a few classes.It will be hard as Hell but much like that little train said, I think I can to the power of infinity.
In honor of Halloween happening as I am writing this, I am taking another stab at Varney the Vampire, a crazy penny dreadful/serial from a long time ago. I’m going with the Kindle free version via Project Gutenberg until it’s over and then going for another etext that has an extra hundred chapters or so. I originally read like 30 chapters a while ago but Kindle went through an update and I lost all progress and have very little memory of what happened. Tonight I go through a crazy archive binge of reading and putting in a few sentences on reactions and plot points every hour or so. Let’s see how much I can handle before bed time. FYI I am wearing a cape from a costume I had last year to make experience more interesting/keep me warm. Awesome snuggy for the win. Here I go:
Characters as I find them:
Henry, seems like protagonist
George: Henry’s brother, obviously the Luigi of the pair
The mom: not doing much besides screaming and fainting
Mr. Robert. Marchdale: middle aged friend, man of action, possible mentor figure, has guns will fire
Flora: first victim of vampire, typical damsel in distress so far. sister of the other two
Martha: a named female servant, probably no one, let’s see
Sir Runnagate Bannerworth: ancestor of family, everyonr has Bannerworth last name, portrait looks exactly like vampire
Mr. Chillingsworth: town doctor, skeptic. good with sword, curious.
Charles Holland: young man they met in Italy, saved Flora’s life
Observations of chapters 1-7
THe prose is beautiful and the narration is creepy and scenic. The opening of a dark and stormy night is well done.Flora is the first to feel the vampires bite and is scared/unconscious most of the time. George, Henry, and Marchendale follow the beast and shoot it twice before it escapes. The doctor comes the next day and helps. Rumors of vampire range from childish imagination to panic inducing craziness. That night a full moon appears, which apparently gives vampires fast healing, they search for vampire again, shoot it again but it escapes into woods. Flashback to someone trying to buy house but family rejecting offer, mostly because Flora has a love interest whom she met in Italy, Holland, who has this as her residence and may come to find her. The family is relatively poor, even if living in an ancient mansion, Marchendale is mom’s cousin. The men decide to search the family crypt, since portrait of old ancestor looks like vampire. Flora is now badass and stays in bed alone with pistols at the ready to shoot monster if it comes back. The search for the tomb is done stealthily and CHillingsworth has alchemical matches of some sort. They are about to enter crypt.
The band of merrymen make a search check around the area to discern which tomb is that of the specific portrait ancestor. After a bit of puzzle solving, they find the right casket and open it only to find nothing. Both by logic and medical science they determine that no corpse has laid there. Chillingsworth continues with his skeptical atheist mentality and he decides to return to his place while the brothers and Marchdale head back to check on Flora. She and her mom are jumping at every possible sound they hear. The paranoia pays off as the vampire tries to go for them through the window only to get shot, twice. Upon hearing the gunshots the men rush back into the house and find someone holding Flora who has fainted. They are about to beat up this stranger only to find that it is Charles Holland. FOr some reason him and Marchendale don’t like each other. Assumptions that Holland and Flora are in love are made clear and factual. She regains consciousness and proceeds to freak out, even telling Holland to leave forever and forget the love they once had. CHarles is super confused but they explain the scenario to him. Holland is being super manly and insists in staying in the house, specifically in the room with the creepy ancestor/vampire portrait. While Holland is is worrying about whether his beloved might become a vampire herself. He realizes that the portrait had been moved. He enlists Henry to check out the painting but find nothing of interest. While they are talking the vampire appears at the window again and Holland shoots him. (vampire now has six bullets in him by my count). They look in the garden but find no trace. holland and Marchendale get into an argument but resolve to not overreact. The next morning, one of the servants goes to Henry to deliver a letter and say that she is quitting. Henry dismisses her and checks the letter from his new neighbor, Francis Varney. (yes the same name as the titular vampire). A previous letter had been sent basically saying hi and hoping to meet. This one specifically says that if crazy things are happening in the house then he would buy it if available for a fair price. Henry talks it over with the family, since no one would buy a haunted house then this offer seems amazing. Then they consider that the vampire might be stalking the people rather than the place. They decide on getting Varney to rent the house for a year, see how vampire acts and then make or veto the full sale. Henry brings Marchendale as backup/witness to go and meet Varney and present their offer, only to realize that no one has actually seen Varney yet. Servant opens the door, says that his master is not well but will see them. They enter a study and find Varney, who of course looks exactly like the portrait dude/vampire. Henry has a major freak out, Varney kind of eggs him on and Marchendale tries to keep things calm but fails. Henry is very direct with accusations but ultimately accepts that if he sells the house it will be on the condition that Varney never make contact with anyone else in the family.
Admiral Bell: Holland’s uncle and only living relative. Summoned to make sure nephew doesn’t make mistake of marrying Flora. Most cursing by character so far
Jack Pringle: (no relation to the can) under the comman of Admiral Bell. They argue constantly but seem to be best friends. Speak to each other like salty dogs.
Josiah Crinkle: respectable lawyer, sends letter to Bell but turns out it is a forgery. Recounts events so far to new characters.
The above characters show up and start talking. Holland and Flora have a heart to heart talk that basically boils down to Flora loving him so much that he wants to spare the pain so he should leave now. Holland on the other hand insists that he would endure this and much more because he loves her so much. A bit of a storm comes in which they take as an omen and then they see that Mr. Varney the vampyre shows up. He scares everyone even if he is in noble mode at the moment. Flora faints again and is taken to her room. Henry, Marchendale, and Charles confront Varney who is bing smug and courteous about apologizing for weirdness but everyone basically gives him the GTFO sign. Marchendale follows him out to make sure he leaves. From a distance we see that the two get into an argument and Varney does some sort of a chokeslam on Marchendale before disappearing. After the commotion, there is a knocking at the door and with no servants, George is left to nswer. He finds Bell and Pringle being all crazy piratey without making much sense. Eventually they say who they are and we get the family reunion scene. Henry talks to Flora while Holland updates the admiral on what’s going on. Before leaving, Holland gives Henry a book to give to Flora. She admits that she loves Charles enough to stay by his side no matter what. She then reads the story, who I think was written by Charles but I’m not sure. The story is pretty weird and I kinda zoned in and out. The Count and Countesses of Morvel are about to get married and some guy calling himself the doctor is extorting both of them into killing the other through poison and then getting the dead one’s money. Both counts actually talk in private to figure out what’s going on. They decide to trick the doctor into slavework in the mines by making him think to walk into a dark part of the tower where there is gold but in reality it’s a mining press gang. They kind of have a happy ending but a few people end up dead. THe doctor escapes and takes on a protege and they are able to get revenge on everybody. By the time Flora finishes the story, someone knocks at the door and Varney enters. He tries to enter negotiations through being absolutely terrifying. THe short version: I can kill any and all of you easily, sell me the house and I’ll leave you alone, tell no one about this. He goes for some creepy hugs and then screams come again as he jumps through the window and Flora faints again. In the meantime, Charles explains to his Uncle how much he loves Flora but there is all this craziness. The admiral actually respects his nephew’s decision to stick through this as things get rough and promises to help. They hear screams rush in and find the broken window. CHarles and Henry really want to go and kill Varney right now but Flora reminds them that he is a fraking vampire. They can’t are all super angry and again we see this weird arguing tension between Charles and Marchendale. Flora suggests that they just sell Varney the house and be rid of the situation. The brothers decide to bring Chillingsworth in to decide what to do next.