Wednesday, May 31, 2017


The first of a series of classic Gothic reprints from Valancourt, this is certainly amusing, if sometimes a chore. Published in 1798, it's probably a good example of the Gothics of the period, which were consumed like popcorn.

Set in France in the Dark Ages, it involves....well, a lot. You've got peasants on the run. You have corrupt nobles. You have good nobles in exile. You have a femme fatale in the form of the wicked Brunchilda. You have a haunted castle with a mischievous skeleton cutting capers.

It's full of plot and counterplot, and to try to recount it would be pointless as it's all a mad jumble. That being said, it's a FUN mad jumble, so utterly berserk and over-the-top that it's hard to take all that seriously. In fact, there's a vein of black comedy running through much of the supernatural doings, which I understand was fairly rare for the genre.

But at the same time, there's a lot that's interesting. It's free of the Catholic-bashing that so many Gothics indulged in; in fact, the clergy are quite heroic in this story. There's also a lot that's probably fairly typical of the genre, with people showing up in disguise, people lamenting their fates, characters dying because the author probably doesn't know what to do with them and/or needs to motivate his other characters, and an ending where the wicked are punished and the good rewarded. It's a mad tumult, fitting a lot into a dense 108 pages.

So, if you're interested, check it out. It's available in paperback and as an ebook. The Animated Skeleton

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