Friday, November 15, 2019

Dying in Bangkok

Dan Simmons, author of CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT (1992; reviewed here in December 2014), wrote several other pieces of vampire fiction. Simmons' "Dying in Bangkok" (1993), included in his story collection LOVEDEATH, uses eroticism, addiction, and art as background for predation by superficially human alien vampires. The narrator, Dr. Merrick, suffering from AIDS, tells the double story of his first visit to Bangkok, on R and R from Vietnam in 1970, and his final return there to die in 1992. As a young soldier in 1970, Merrick, like most of his comrades, knows only a few crude phrases of Vietnamese, enough to negotiate for sexual favors. He is even more ignorant of Thailand. His sexual naivete (he has yet to plumb the mysteries of oral sex and gives no thought to using condoms during his encounters with prostitutes) mirrors his insular attitude toward foreign cultures. Merrick's best friend Tres (pronounced "Tray") serves as a bridge to the alien world of the Far East. He speaks fluent Vietnamese and delves eagerly into the exotic culture of Bangkok. Tres escorts Merrick on a pilgrimage to a heart of darkness, symbolized by movement from the familiar to the foreign, from ersatz American to the Orient. They progress from the enclave set aside for American soldiers and a "flophouse hotel" with prostitutes in the lobby to more exotic attractions such as a "no-hands bar," then from this relatively safe red-light district into the areas seldom seen by Westerners, by way of a hired boat along the "narrow one-way klongs [canals]" with their "blind turns" and "sagging bridges" hazardous with "rotting timbers" and a near-collision with "a high pier with its tall pilings rising ahead of us like a slammed portcullis." Merrick gapes in wonder at a "blackened mass" of "tumbledown shacks and half-sunken sampans," unable to comprehend that, "People live in those." Images of strangeness, decay, and entrapment overshadow the journey.

It culminates on a barge where Mara, a nonhuman creature who feeds blood, mouth-to-mouth like a female bat, to her baby daughter, performs in a grotesque sex show where she draws nourishment from willing victims. Men pay exorbitant fees for the privilege of exposing themselves to audiences while Mara's bizarrely long, prehensile tongue with its razor-edged suckers drains blood from their penises. The ecstasy of this experience overrides pain and fear. Reflecting on Mara's species later, Merrick realizes they must secrete an anticoagulant like leeches and vampire bats. The baby reminds him of an "almost embryonic" infant kangaroo, and he compares the lesions on the victim's penis to the marks left by jellyfish stings. Mara's feeding clearly has addictive properties, since Tres, although he returns to the hotel with dangerous bleeding from his genitals, is determined to repeat the experience. Merrick blames himself for being unable to restrain his friend from self-destruction. Although Merrick learns a local name for these creatures, yellow-eyed phanyaa mahn naga kio—"demon-human incarnate" beings indwelt by the spirit of the serpentine naga—he knows they're not literally demons but products of natural evolution. Unlike many fictional vampires, they aren't ancient and powerful but vulnerable to disease and death, and they appear to age at a human rate. Merrick's animal imagery portrays them as subhuman rather than superhuman. He regards their human appearance as a mere facade, so killing them would be justified.

As a soldier in Vietnam, he couldn't admit his homosexuality even to himself. By the time he returns to Bangkok in 1992, he still has never publicly come out of the closet. At that point, he knows the city and its language and customs. As a sophisticated traveler, he compares and contrasts Bangkok with his home, Los Angeles, both metropolises ironically known as "City of the Angels," both in the throes of mob violence. He visualizes Bangkok as doomed to an apocalyptic AIDS plague. Having spent twenty-two years searching for Mara and her now grown daughter, he has tracked them down to use his own infected blood as a means of expiating his sense of guilt by avenging the death of Tres.

This novella combines an exotic Asian setting with a fascinating glimpse of humanoid but nonhuman vampires, whose predation blends seduction with horror. Vampire fans who don't mind a bit of gruesomely explicit imagery should appreciate this story. I've analyzed it in greater detail in my nonfiction book DIFFERENT BLOOD: THE VAMPIRE AS ALIEN, which you can find here:

Different Blood

Margaret L. Carter

Please explore love among the monsters at Carter's Crypt.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

V Is for Vampire

Renowned vampire film authority David J. Skal published an alphabetical guide to vampire-related movies, books, TV, and other media, V IS FOR VAMPIRE (1996). Despite the subtitle, THE A-Z GUIDE TO EVERYTHING UNDEAD, this book isn't really an encyclopedia. For that, you want J. Gordon Melton's THE VAMPIRE BOOK (Third Edition, 2011). Skal's entries represent an idiosyncratic compilation of topics he wants to highlight. The sole item under X is "Xenophobia," and under Y, "Yarbro, Chelsea Quinn." (If Y merits only one entry, that's an excellent choice.) Categories referenced include authors, actors, films, opera, literature, folkloric creatures, fictional characters, historical persons, and wide variety of miscellaneous subjects.

Some examples: blood, bat, fetus, lamia, Theda Bara, Sigmund Freud, cannibalism, Carpathian Mountains, cloaks and capes, Vampirella, rabid, rape, Highgate Cemetery, Edmund Blake (the first stage actor to play Count Dracula in the iconic cape), fangs, Barnabas Collins, and Charles Darwin, as well as obligatory topics such as Bela Lugosi, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, and many stage and screen adaptations of DRACULA. With an introduction titled "Vampires, Descending a Staircase," the text is written in Skal's usual witty style. It's embellished with numerous reproductions of book illustrations and movie posters and stills. The volume concludes with an extensive filmography beginning in 1896, a list of vampires and vampirelike creatures, a chronological list of novels beginning in 1847, and a selected bibliography of nonfiction and anthologies.

Strangely, this handsome trade paperback is out of print, but many inexpensive used copies are available. All devoted vampire fans should have it on their shelves.

Margaret L. Carter

Please explore love among the monsters at Carter's Crypt.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Dracula: Sense and Nonsense

Dr. Elizabeth Miller, renowned author of many academic works on Bram Stoker's DRACULA, wrote an informative, scholarly, yet accessible and lively book debunking the many prevalent misconceptions about Stoker, the novel, and the vampire Count, DRACULA: SENSE AND NONSENSE (2000). Most sections of this book respond to direct quotes from previous authors, deconstructing their claims and documenting errors with evidence from primary sources, such as Bram Stoker's working notes for DRACULA. As Miller repeatedly mentions, the discovery of the Notes should have slain many of the widely believed inaccuracies once and for all, yet they keep rising from the grave.

Chapter topics: The sources for DRACULA; Stoker and the writing of DRACULA; the novel; the geography of DRACULA; Vlad the Impaler. The final chapter, "Source Alert," surveys the most significant biographies, commentaries, and annotated editions with comments on their usefulness and reliability (or lack thereof). The volume also includes a sixteen-page bibliography and an index, and each chapter has footnotes. It's interesting to see how often speculation by a single commentator gets repeated over and over until it becomes mistaken for fact; many critics preface their guesses with "undoubtedly" or "certainly." Which real person was Count Dracula based on, if any? Unknown, but all the Count's important traits can be found in folklore and fiction available to Stoker. In any case, the vampire wasn't based on Vlad. Did Stoker conduct research on an in-person trip to Transylvania? No. Did Stoker get information about vampires from Sir Richard Burton or Arminius Vambery? Probably not, since there's no evidence to that effect, and all the historical, geographic, and folkloric elements in the novel have identifiable sources in books we know Stoker consulted. Did Stoker have syphilis? At best, an unsubstantiated hypothesis. Is Bran Castle the "real" Castle Dracula (an idea exploited by the Romanian tourist industry)? Absolutely not. Was Lucy's burial site modeled on Highgate Cemetery? Uncertain. Is the Count confined to his grave by day? Definitely not. On these and many other questions, Miller meticulously and entertainingly distinguishes fact from hearsay, plausible speculation, wild guesses, unsupported interpretations, and demonstrable falsehoods. Moreover, she readily admits her own past misstatements when applicable.

The book's Amazon page:

Dracula: Sense and Nonsense

Frustratingly and strangely, the regular Amazon search doesn't turn it up (at least, not on the first few pages or on Miller's author page); I had to unearth it indirectly through a Google search.

After all these years, some of those mistaken beliefs remain in circulation, especially the apparently unkillable notion that Stoker had extensive knowledge of Vlad the Impaler and explicitly based his fictional character on Vlad's life. So DRACULA: SENSE AND NONSENSE is still relevant to Dracula studies today and indispensable for any serious student or devoted fan of the novel.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Vampire in Europe

Most dedicated vampire fans are probably aware of Montague Summers, an eccentric scholar of folklore and Gothic literature who wrote in the first half of the 20th century. He claimed to be a Roman Catholic priest, although (from what I've read) there's no clear evidence that he was in fact ordained after converting from the Anglican Church to Catholicism. One of his peculiarities was an apparently sincere belief in witchcraft and, possibly, other supernatural phenomena; in his book on the history of witchcraft, he seems to uncritically accept the claims of the authorities who persecuted witches. He also wrote about werewolves as well as the development of the Gothic novel and other literary subjects. He's best known for his two volumes on vampires, THE VAMPIRE: HIS KITH AND KIN (1928) and THE VAMPIRE IN EUROPE (1929). The first book, which defines the term "vampire" more broadly than some later specialists agree with, ranges all over the world from antiquity onward. It begins with chapters on "The Origin of the Vampire" and "The Generation of the Vampire," which deal with diverse subjects such as ancient and medieval legends, bloodthirsty serial killers, necrophilia, and the psychological roots of vampirism. The chapter on "Traits and Practice" explores the characteristics of vampires and ways of controlling or destroying them. "The Vampire in Assyria, the East, and Some Ancient Countries" delves further into the mythology of specific creatures. The final chapter, "The Vampire in Literature," comprises an exhaustive survey of fiction up through DRACULA and the play adapted from the novel, in both its British and American versions. THE VAMPIRE: HIS KITH AND KIN includes footnotes, an index, and an extensive bibliography.

Several of Summers' works are available on Amazon at reasonable prices, including his books on werewolves and witchcraft as well as those on vampires. If you want to read THE VAMPIRE IN EUROPE, I recommend the critical edition (2014) edited by John Edgar Browning. This volume constitutes a facsimile reprint of the original, with auxiliary material including a preface by Browning and essays by Katherine Ramsland, Rosemary Ellen Guiley, Gerard P. O'Sullivan, and Carol A. Senf. One feature indispensable to many if not most contemporary readers is an appendix that translates all the Greek and Latin quotations in the text. Other appendices include: reviews of and reactions to the book's original publication; a brief discussion of the "real vampire community"; an essay on energy vampirism; and highlights of Browning's research into contemporary vampire-related phenomena in New Orleans. Summers' chapters cover the following topics: (1) Ancient Greece and Rome; (2) England, Ireland, France, and Italy, with a brief excursion to 19th-century Rhode Island; (3) Hungary and Czechoslovakia; (4) modern Greece; (5) Russia, Romania, and Bulgaria.

Browning has also produced a critical edition of THE VAMPIRE: HIS KITH AND KIN (2011). Although Summers' works have been supplemented and in some cases superseded by later scholarship, the books are still worth reading. The abundance of ghastly details and the colorful reports of alleged historical vampire cases make these surveys of the bloodthirsty undead and their "kin" throughout the folklore of the world highly entertaining.

Margaret L. Carter

Please explore love among the monsters at Carter's Crypt.


Monday, July 15, 2019

Dracula: Prince of Darkness

Among the many vampire anthologies edited by Martin H. Greenberg, the theme of DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1992) is self-evident. This is a compilation of all-original stories about the vampire Count. The introduction by Stefan Dziemianowicz enthusiastically embraces the popular belief that Bram Stoker's novel was "derived from the exploits of a historical figure" (Vlad the Impaler), a position that has been thoroughly disproved (at least, so far as one can prove a negative). As renowned Dracula scholar Elizabeth Miller has demonstrated, there's no evidence that Stoker knew anything about the life of Vlad the Impaler other than a short passage in one research source, which doesn't even mention the "Impaler" nickname. As Stoker's working notes show, he didn't come across this reference until he'd already started planning the novel, whose villain was originally called "Count Wampyr." Dziemianowicz's assumption can be pardoned, however, considering the date of this anthology. The rest of the introduction discusses the character of Dracula, his influence, and the roots of readers' fascination with him.

The stories, by a host of distinguished horror authors, range over several centuries, some from the viewpoint of the vampire lord's enemies or victims, some told through his own eyes. A few highlights: In Bentley Little's "Hard Times," we follow Dracula through a modern city as he contemplates his fall from his glorious past to the status of a mere scavenger. A not-very-nice motel night manager in "Dracuson's Driver," by Richard Laymon, assaults a female guest who drives a hearse, to his intense regret. Matthew J. Costello, in "Deep Sleep," narrates how the Count survives the disaster of the Titanic by retreating to his coffin and hibernating on the ocean floor. (If every character portrayed in film and fiction as sailing on the Titanic were really aboard, no wonder they ran out of lifeboats.) "The Black Wolf," by Wendi Lee and Terry Beatty, places Dracula in the nineteenth-century American West. The narrator of Warner Lee's "Cult" attempts to rescue (or retrieve) a victim from a sinister organization. Douglas Borton's "Voivode" comprises the journal of a screenwriter touring Romania and visiting Dracula's castle. F. Paul Wilson's "The Lord's Work," which features a vampire-slaying nun, eventually formed part of his novel MIDNIGHT MASS, set in a world overrun by the undead. The anthology concludes with "Like a Pilgrim to the Shrine," by Brian Hodge, in which an ambitious young vampire tracks down the legendary Dracula.

My favorite story in the book, "The Wind Breathes Cold," by P. N. Elrod, became the first chapter of her delightful "good guy vampire" novel QUINCEY MORRIS, VAMPIRE (which I reviewed here in July 2013).

Margaret L. Carter

Please explore love among the monsters at Carter's Crypt.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Trouble in the Forest

Under the pen name "Trystam Kith," Chelsea Quinn Yarbro wrote a pair of vampire novels very different from her Saint-Germain series. In the "Trouble in the Forest" duology, set during the reign of King Richard the Lionhearted, while his brother Prince John ruled England in Richard's absence, Yarbro presents familiar legendary characters from a new and strange perspective. Prince John is portrayed as an intelligent, highly educated, just ruler instead of a villain, the Sheriff of Nottingham is the hero, and Robin Hood and his Merry Men are—vampires.

The first volume, A COLD SUMMER NIGHT (2004), begins as Hugh deSteny, Sheriff of Nottingham under the lordship of Sir Gui deGisbourne, receives a dreadful report from a forest warden. A family of humble crofters has been slaughtered. Upon viewing the crime scene, Hugh immediately suspects something worse than human murderers. A former Crusader, he saw strange things in the Holy Land, so he knows of the living dead who drink blood. From priests of the Greek church, he learned how to deal with those creatures. Further attacks convince him that his first assumption is true, and he strives to protect his people against the undead who haunt the forest. The outlaws are cunning as well as bloodthirsty and strong, however, and several groups of travelers fall to them, including even armed men forewarned of the danger. We see how Alan a Dale, Little John, and Friar Tuck (here called simply the Red Friar, for the color of his order's habit) get captured and converted. Although these vampires are diabolically evil in the traditional way, they have intelligence and personalities. The Friar tries to resist his change into a creature of the Devil, only to discover that he can no longer pray or handle holy objects and that the craving for blood is inexorable.

Matters become worse when Sir Gui insists on having his prospective bride, Marian, escorted to him through the forest by an inadequate contingent of guards. Once captured by "Hood" and his band, Marian takes to her new life with relish. She didn't have much enthusiasm for her arranged marriage to a man she'd never met anyway. Hugh struggles to make Sir Gui understand the true danger of the outlaws, while coping with other obstructions to carrying out his duty. The book ends as Sir Gui prepares to carry out his scheme of trapping Hood and his gang with an archery contest.

Book II, A BRIGHT WINTER SUN (2004), completes the tale. As one would expect from a veteran author of historical horror such as Yarbro, "Trystam Kith" vividly renders the environment and culture of early medieval England, with the ever-present threats that lurk in the wild forest lying in wait just outside the towns, monasteries, and citadels or off the well-traveled roads. Hugh deSteny is a believable, sympathetic character, and the other people in the story have credible goals and motives, including Robin Hood's undead band. The term "vampire" doesn't appear until about halfway through the book, perhaps anachronistically, since the word wasn't recorded in English until the 1730s; by the time it pops up, however, the reader has become immersed deeply enough in the story to allow the author this license.

Margaret L. Carter

Explore love among the monsters at Carter's Crypt.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The Gilda Stories

THE GILDA STORIES (1991), by Jewelle Gomez, may or may not comprise the first fictional appearance of a sympathetic, black, feminist, lesbian vampire, but it's certainly a groundbreaking pioneer in that niche. The protagonist, originally known simply as "the Girl," begins life as a slave in Louisiana. We first meet her in 1850 as a runaway hiding in a barn, where she stabs to death a bounty hunter who tries to rape her. She's found by the vampire Gilda, who welcomes the Girl into her home, a New Orleans bordello. After the Girl's transformation into a vampire and the death of Gilda, the Girl assumes her maker's name. Thus her change frames vampirism as completely positive; it grants her not only freedom and power but an identity. The second Gilda gathers a vampire family-of-choice around her. They avoid killing and treat the consumption of blood as sharing rather than predation. Their psychic gift of empathy enables them to demonstrate in action the theme stated by the author herself: "We take blood, not life, and leave something in exchange." The novel follows them across two hundred years of history as the country changes around them. From antebellum Louisiana, the story travels to Yerba Buena in 1890, Missouri in 1921, and on through the twentieth century to various locales (in the years 1955, 1971, and 1981). The two final chapters leap into the future settings of 2020 and 2050. The chapters are fairly self-contained, since each one starts afresh in a new setting.

As one of the Amazon reviews puts it, in her long life Gilda deals with "African American culture, the civil rights movement and feminism" as well as "sexuality, racism and environmental issues," all from the perspective of an outsider observing human society. The 25th Anniversary Edition includes a foreword (about the background of the novel's conception) and concluding author's note by Gomez, plus an essay by poet, scholar, educator, and indie-press publisher Alexis Pauline Gumbs, "Blood Relations: Gilda and the Stakes of Our Future."

Margaret L. Carter

Please explore love among the monsters at Carter's Crypt.

Monday, April 15, 2019


Followers of distinguished Canadian fantasy writer Charles de Lint probably remember MULENGRO (1985), which horror fans in general might have overlooked. The villain of this urban fantasy with police procedural mystery elements isn't a traditional vampire, but he has vampiric traits. An unusual sort of psychic predator, he absorbs energy from the ghosts he creates. In the opening scene of the novel, Romany (Gypsy) musician Janfri Yayal watches his house burn down. Graffiti left by the arsonist brands him an outcast from his people. As we later learn, the antagonist is pursuing a vendetta against Romany whom he considers traitors to their own kind. Janfri's friend Tom Shaw, who knows him under an assumed name and isn't aware of his ethnic background, witnesses the fire and is baffled when "John" simply vanishes afterward. Another viewpoint character, Ottawa police detective Patrick Briggs, investigates a series of bizarre murders with his partner, Will Sandler. Horribly mutilated bodies turn up, and it gradually becomes clear that the killings have something to do with the secretive Romany community. This 350-page novel has a large ensemble cast of both Romany and *gaje* (people of any other ethnicity), including: Ola, a Romany woman who lives with a sapient cat and uses her powers only reluctantly but recognizes the villain's true nature when he kills an old woman who also practices magic; Jeff, a young man beaten up by two roughnecks who later try to attack Ola; Jackie, his sort-of girlfriend; one of the attackers and his earthbound dead brother; Zach, an old hippie with whom Ola takes refuge; and, among others, of course the Mulengro himself.

The police officers, naturally, don't suspect a supernatural force behind the murders and don't readily believe it even after gaining the trust of some Gypsies and hearing the alleged truth. Moreover, aside from Ola, who's already conversant with magic, most of the Romany don't instantly believe either. Rather than blindly superstitious, they display the skepticism one would expect from people of the modern world, even those of an insular minority group. Nor do they welcome cops as allies with open arms.

The Mulengro, a human necromancer with nearly superhuman powers, has become monstrous in his crusade to "purify" his race. His backstory eventually reveals a rational (in his viewpoint, at least) motive for his crimes. In the sincere belief that he is eradicating evil, he gives the old Gypsy *drabarni* (roughly, witch) a "clean" death because she means well. Other victims get savagely murdered and become *mule* (ghosts) under his control. Eventually the good guys overcome their mutual suspicions and unite to vanquish him with both mundane and magical weapons. The story ranges from Ottawa and its suburbs to the sparsely populated wilderness, explores the Romany subculture, and introduces us to a host of vividly drawn characters. The book includes a glossary of Romany words and phrases used in the text. De Lint has obviously done thorough research about the Rom community in Canada. His faithful readers know anything he writes will be good, and other fans of urban fantasy and horror should definitely check out MULENGRO.

Margaret L. Carter

Explore love among the monsters at Carter's Crypt.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Seance for a Vampire

SEANCE FOR A VAMPIRE (1994), by Fred Saberhagen, is one of the later novels in his Dracula series. In my opinion, the later books tend to be weaker than the earlier installments, but SEANCE FOR A VAMPIRE ranks fairly high. It's a sequel to the second book in the series, THE HOLMES-DRACULA FILE (1978), one of the strongest, in which we learn that Vlad Dracula and Sherlock Holmes are "related" in a peculiar supernatural sense. Like that novel, SEANCE FOR A VAMPIRE is narrated alternately by Dracula and Dr. Watson. It begins with a flashback, reconstructed by Dracula, about an eighteenth-century hanging. The hanged Russian pirate, Kulakov, rises as a vampire, obsessed with regaining his stolen treasure.

In the present, Holmes and Watson receive an appeal for help from Ambrose Altamont, whose daughter Louisa recently drowned. His wife has employed a brother-sister team of mediums, Abraham and Sarah Kirkaldy, who she is convinced can summon Louisa's spirit. Altamont wants Sherlock Holmes to expose the Kirkaldys as charlatans. Louisa was engaged to Martin Armstrong, an American journalist, a member of the boating party when Louisa supposedly drowned. Her body was not found, and Armstrong reveals several peculiar features of the accident. The Kiraldys have already produced an apparent materialization of Louisa, solidifying Mrs. Altamont's faith in the mediums' powers. Strangely, the "spirit" of Louisa insists that only the restoration of a lost "treasure" can bring her peace. Her parents, of course, have no idea what she's referring to.

Quickly surmising that Louisa may be a vampire, Holmes and Watson join forces with Dracula to investigate the mystery. The Count soon discovers that the Kiraldys are as baffled by the apparition as the Altamonts and Armstrong are. A Russian vampire—whom the alert reader will identify as the hanged man from the opening scene—appears to be manipulating the undead girl. Furthermore, another shadowy Russian figure lurks in the background. Meanwhile, Dracula has an erotic fling with Sarah, discreetly offstage.

This fast-paced, highly entertaining story takes its characters from England to Russia in search of the ultimate truth behind Louisa's murder and resurrection. The historical settings of both Edwardian England and early 20th-century Russia strike me as vivid and convincing. When we learn the identity of the undead pirate's Russian ally, this revelation seems inevitable, given the era and locale. Like its predecessor, THE HOLMES-DRACULA FILE, SEANCE FOR A VAMPIRE works well as both a Sherlock Holmes pastiche and a vampire novel. One minor problem: After the early chapters, many passages aren't marked with the names of the narrators, so we have to infer for ourselves whether the Count or the doctor is speaking; sometimes the answer isn't immediately clear. Otherwise, highly recommended.

Margaret L. Carter

Please explore love among the vampires at Carter's Crypt.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Rod Serlng's Triple W

To begin with an admission up front: ROD SERLING'S TRIPLE W (1963) is not a vampire anthology. As indicated by the subtitle, it collects tales of "Witches, Warlocks, and Werewolves." Because this is an outstanding vintage horror anthology, however, I couldn't resist telling you about it. This was one of the first paperbacks I bought in my teens, while discovering horror and fantasy, and it introduced me to several classic stories. Copies are available on Amazon.

The two best-known classics in the anthology are Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" (witches, warlocks, and Satan) and Kipling's "The Mark of the Beast" (lycanthropy). "The Story of Sidi Nonman" retells a Middle Eastern legend of a man finding himself married to a witch who sneaks out by night to feast with ghouls. Some of the more recent works: "Hatchery of Dreams," by the great Fritz Leiber, narrates the adventure of proper Bostonian Giles Wardwell when he has to rescue his wife, whom he has just discovered to be a witch, from a modern witch-hunter. In "The Amulet," by Gordon R. Dickson, a sleazy and sometimes violent drifter wanders into the Ozark back country and falls afoul of a pair of witches. The rich but discontented protagonist of "Blind Alley," by Malcolm Jameson, which was filmed under a different title as a TWILIGHT ZONE episode, makes a demonic bargain for a time-travel journey to his youthful home in the early twentieth century, where he plans to enjoy the challenge of building a fortune all over again; of course, the fulfillment of his wish doesn't turn out the way he expects. One of my favorites, a unique and often-reprinted variation on the werewolf, Bruce Elliott's "Wolves Don't Cry," is told from the viewpoint of a zoo wolf who wakes up one morning as a man; he has to learn to be human, a process he doesn't enjoy at all.

The book does, however, contain one vampire story, although not marked as such. "And Not Quite Human," by Joe L. Hensley, is probably meant to fall into the "warlock" category. In the distant future, a race of human-like aliens attacks Earth and clears the planet of its inhabitants to prepare it for colonization. Surprisingly, forty-four Terrans survive the attack, and as the story begins, they are prisoners on the alien ship. They lurk in the shadows of their cells and refuse to eat. Members of the ship's crew suffer nightmares and hallucinations, succumbing to irrational fears supposedly long since eliminated from their species, while the prisoners inexplicably grow stronger. At the end, an old man with sharp canine teeth congratulates the captain on the success of the attack: "Nothing human could have lived through it—nothing human did. Some of us were deep underground, where they'd buried us long ago—the stakes through our hearts—they knew how to deal with us. But your fire burned the stakes away." Deliciously creepy!

This treasury of haunting tales ends with an essay on "Witch Trials and the Law," by Charles Mackay.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt