In this volume are reprinted, complete and unabridged, five great classics of the Victorian supernatural novel: The Uninhabited House by Mrs. J. H. Riddell; The Amber Witch by J. W. Meinhold; Monsieur Maurice by Amelia B. Edwards; A Phantom Lover by Vernon Lee; and The Ghost of Guir House by Charles Willing Beale.
These five novels present the entire panoply of Victorian thrills and chills at their best: pale ghosts wandering through the ancient chambers of a deserted mansion; the impingement of the restless, unquiet evil on the present; the Devil and bizarre witchcraft, strange magical dooms; love from the past and the no-boundary condition of death; hidden powers, occult knowledge, mental structures and weird magic not recorded elsewhere.
These five novels, although recognized masterpieces of supernatural horror, are nowhere else in print. Indeed, three out of five of them have never before been reprinted since their initial appearance in fabulously rare periodicals and special publications. This is your first chance to read these fine products of the Victorian era.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This collection offers something for everyone. By which I mean no two are in the least similar, and a couple are so disparate that I would venture to say that if you like one, you would not at all enjoy the other. The second novel in the book, ¿The Amber Witch,¿ is the longest, as well as the least enjoyed by me. It is a fictional tale, but when first published claimed to be, as stated in the preface, a translation of a 15th century manuscript written by a pastor who endured much woe and trouble when marauders ravaged his village and his daughter is falsely accused of witchcraft. The ¿pastor¿s¿ style of writing is antiquated, but readable. My objection is the frequent interjections of Latin words with absolutely no explanations of their meanings in English. Presumably the average person in the Victorian era was much more familiar with Latin than today¿s reader, and also the scholarly reader of the 1970¿s (when this book was published) might have had an easier time. Personally, I had to keep near a computer and look things up quite frequently. Another issue, more personal to me, possibly, than the average person, was the philosophy of the narrator. No matter how many horrible calamities befall him, he is able to work it into his religion, while ascribing to his god both the impetus for his woe as well as the means to endure it. It is quite obvious that the malevolence of the people surrounding him is the sole cause of his hardship, and also that religion is the means by which they convince the general populace to go along with their evil schemes, yet his reliance on his God infrequently wavers. There are also no ghosts in this story. I much preferred ¿The Ghost of Guir House.¿ It felt to me like the reward for slogging through the rest of the book. In this fascinating tale, Paul receives a letter that seems not meant for him but decides to follow its instruction anyway and meet the girl who sent it. She and the old man living with her seem to have a mysterious and esoteric secret, and Paul struggles to learn what it is. The information imparted to Paul in the course of discovering the mystery is somewhat hard to follow, but the story is compelling and suspenseful. Paul is a sort of bumbling person, but means well and so is easy to identify with. The characters of the girl and the old man, as well as, arguably, the third character of Guir House itself are so well developed and stunningly described that it more than makes up for the fact that Paul seems like the method by which to tell the story, rather than a character himself. To address the other three novels: ¿The Uninhabited House¿ suffers from a stilted plot, an entirely too lengthy exposition, and characters who made me very irritated. There is barely a ghost in the novel and the ending was telegraphed from the first paragraph. Heavy foreshadowing as well as (while possibly quite novel 150 years ago) a familiar storyline, made for a complete waste of my time. ¿Monsieur Maurice¿ was written in a much more compelling way than ¿The Uninhabited House,¿ and was therefore not a complete waste of time. However, it barely had anything to do with ghosts, and was not at all chilling or suspenseful. Interesting more for the picture it drew of the German countryside and the time of Napoleon, as well as the charming perspective of a little girl as the main character serve to recommend it more for a general collection of Victorian tales than a self-described collection of ¿Ghost Novels.¿ While there is undoubtedly a more of a ghost present in ¿The Phantom Lover,¿ the narrative did not turn dark or suspenseful until the last paragraph. Also, the convention of writing from the perspective of the protagonist speaking to an unknown person who has entered his art gallery was quite jarring at first. It¿s like when someone on television addresses the camera to begin, and then the story is told in flashback. This style is not as cohesive in written form. Again the ¿mystery¿ of the sto