“This Is My Genre, Tell Me Yours” Book Tag

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Today is a perfect day for a fun tag! Ellie at Blogging for Dopamine tagged me fo the This Is My Genre, Tell Me Yours book tag and she really made me think… I wasn’t even sure what my favourite genre was! XD Thank you, Ellie, so much for the tag! ❤

First things first, here are the rules:

  • Credit  Drew @ TheTattooedBookGeek as the creator of the tag, use the created tag name graphic and link back to his blog. (Also, if you want to learn more about the tag you can see Drew’s post HERE.)
  • Answer the questions.
  • Tag as many people as you want.

And now, let’s get to the questions!

1. What is your favourite genre?

So, in the end, I decided that my favourite genre is Gothic fiction, in all of its different shapes and forms. From the Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, published in 1764, the classics such as Samuel Talylor Coleridge, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe and many others, through books that are only slightly gothic (like my beloved Wuthering Heights or most of Daphne du Maurier’s books) to some modern takes on the genre. This is the genre from which some amazing characters were born, characters we never stop talking about – Dracula, The Phantom of the Opera, Carmilla, Dorian Gray, Jekyll and Hyde… It’s characterised by creepy atmosphere, old castles, dark woods, and often with some paranormal occurences (though not always). It is also the genre that gave us horror fiction. What’s not to love?

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2. Who is your favourite author from the genre?

Another hard decision! XD When it comes to Gothic classics, then it has to be Mary Shelley. I’ve talked so many times about my love for her and her writing, so I don’t want to repeat myself, but she is my queen! And my other, modern, queen is Anne Rice. She introduced me to the vampire lore and I’ve never stopped being intrigued by it.

3. What is it about the genre that keeps pulling you back?

Mostly, it’s the atmosphere. I think Gothic fiction is the most atmospheric of all fiction. It’s dark and mysterious, beautiful and desciptive, but also creepy and un-put-downable. (Is that a word? Now it is.) And there are just so many possibilities! Many Gothic stories use some folkloric elements and make them their own, which is very interesting to me. I like seeing how different authors interpret similar ideas.

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4. What is the book that started your love for the genre?

Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles – the first three in the series are soooo amazing and I love them to death. Lestat is one of my favourite fictional characters. After reading Anne Rice’s books when I was about 14, I just had to read Dracula and that’s how my little obsession started.

5. If you had to recommend at least one book from your favourite genre to a non-reader/someone looking to start reading that genre, what book would you choose and why?

If that person wants to start with Gothic classics, then I’d recommed Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Those are my favourites. (I think everyone should read Frankenstein, even if they’re not interested in Gothic fiction, to be honest;)) If the person wants to start with something modern, then Anne Rice, of course. Or Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I think his books are approachable to (and loved by) the people who are not fans of the Gothic genre as well as those who are.

6. Why do you read?

Because that’s how I have fun! 🙂 I’ve always loved stories, and even before I could read, my parents read to me. My father sometimes even made up stories. I learned to love reading from an early age and my love for books only grew from there. I read to have fun, yes, but I also read to learn, to feel, to be intrigued, to have my thoughts provoked, and even to cry. 🙂

And in the end, I tag these lovely people: Misty@mistysbookspaceMatxi@matxibooks, Sophie@blameitonchocolate, Anna@itsmybirthwriteCaffeinated Bibliophile and Elena@elenasquareeyes.

Happy blogging! 🙂


First two pictures are from pixabay.com, the other two are mine.

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The Witching Hour

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“My lady!” Frederic gasped.

Frederic had been a servant for the Tormount family for many years. He had seen many Tormount children grow and become adults, slowly before his eyes. And never in his years of service had he felt as afraid for one of them as he felt that night.
Lady Gemma was dripping wet, her golden hair seemed almost grey, and something behind her clever eyes seemed broken. She had been gone for three days, disappeared without a trace, during the night. Nobody knew what happened. Until this night, when just after the clock struck three times, he had heard the knocking on the door. Weak, silent knocking that someone less attentive would probably not hear. He had shuddered as he opened the door. Three o’clock, the witching hour, never brings anything good, he had thought to himself. But sometimes, even Frederic could be wrong. The night brought his dear lady back.

“Where have you been?” Frederic cried out, but he knew he would not get an answer.

Lady Gemma almost fell to the ground, but he caught her with the swiftness of a young man. He took her in his arms, as if she were a child again, and stepped inside the mansion to carry her to her bed.
The household had already awakened. Master Edmund and his wife were standing on top of the stairs in their night robes, their eyes heavy and their minds not yet aware of what was going on. The mistress was the first to run down the stairs.

“Gemma! Oh, my, Gemma is home!” she screamed.

“What’s happened?” the master stood motionless, unable to follow his wife downstairs.

“I don’t know. I heard the knocking and went to open the door…” Frederic started.

“Did she say anything?” the mistress’ hands trembled as she removed the wet hair from her daughter’s face.

“No,” Frederic replied. “We must take her to her room. Warm her up.”

The mistress nodded. Frederic carried Gemma to her room and she followed him. The master soon joined them, together with the two servant girls.
Everyone was silent, doing the best they knew to get the lady dry and warm. The girls bathed her in warm water, dressed her and put her in bed, while the others waited. The mistress then approached her daughter and covered her in warm white sheets.

“She doesn’t have a fever. That’s a good sign,” said one of the girls.

“Yes, yes…” the mistress had retained her strength for days, but now she started to cry.

“We must look after her through the night. Not leave her sight,” the master said.

“Of course. The girls can stay here until the morning,” Frederic said and looked at the girls who nodded in agreement.

“I’ll stay as well!” the mistress said. “I can’t leave her.”

The master approached his wife and patted her shoulder.

“If anything changes call me immediately. I don’t think I will be sleeping anyway,” he told her.

“I hope nothing horrible happened to her… She doesn’t seem harmed,” the mistress mumbled, as if she didn’t want to say it out loud.

“We’ll know more tomorrow. Now it’s important to let her rest. She’s obviously exhausted.”

The master left the room and Frederic followed him. In silence, they went each to his own room. They both knew they would wait for morning with eyes wide open. Frederic watched as the pale light of his master’s candle disappeared down the hallway. The mansion always looked different in the dark. It seemed less luxurious and felt less like home.
The door screaked as Frederic closed them. His room was small, but tidy. Tidiness always gave him comfort, made him feel like all is good with the world. Everything can be arranged and all broken things could be fixed. This time, it only reminded him how little his room resembled the real world. He had seen many injustices, many evils. All he could hope for was that none of those horrible things would touch those he cared about.
And then, he heard a scream. Piercing, loud, short. Everything was silent in the very next moment. Without really knowing what he was doing, Frederic ran to lady Gemma’s room. He opened the door, without knocking, something he would ordinarily never do. And then he realized what had happened.
The window was open, and the bed empty. The once white sheets were soaked in crimson, the floor covered in red. Three women lied, their bodies contorted, their eyes opened but blank. Just dead meat left of what used to be the mistress and two young servant girls. Their throats have been cut. A massacre.
They were back. Frederic didn’t think it would happen, but it has. He had to find them, end them. He had to catch his lady as well, his little girl, Gemma of the golden hair. And he had to hurry. No time to think. The master must’ve heard the scream and is coming towards the room.
Frederic growled, in anger and in pain, and his pointed, ivory teeth showed. The witching hour had passed, but it wasn’t witches he had to deal with anyway.
He followed the trace of moonlight and flew through the window.


Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

Quote for Thought: Lestat

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Who cares? Kingdoms rise and fall. Just don’t burn the paintings in the Louvre, that’s all.

Anne Rice, The Vampire Lestat

I think that my love for vampires was quite obvious on this blog. I even wrote an entire post about fictional vampires which you can check out here if you want to.

Anyway, this obsession started with Lestat. Not the one from the books though, and not even the Tom Cruise version, but the Lestat from The Queen of the Damned film. Yes, I know, the film is quite bad, but for fourteen-year-old me it was the best thing ever, and I still adore the soundtrack. Then the books came and my obsession was sealed. So, I decided that I should honour Lestat with at least a short little post.

For me, Lestat was, and is, a perfect anti-hero. He is a reminiscent of the Romantic, Byronic hero, who acts because he is bored. He is also curious, and has a strong desire to learn and understand the world. And in the end, he appreciates art in all of its forms. The Vampire Lestat is my favourite book from The Vampire Chronicles mostly because of Lestat’s complexity. And this quote decribes him the best. Lestat would rather see the world burn than be bored, he regards people as weak and corrupted, but still sees humanity as something precious. He loves his immortality but grieves for some aspects of mortal life. He wants to feel, even if it means he would get hurt. He loves to enjoy beauty and to experience art.

All of this is contained in this short quote. This quote is Lestat.

The Evolution of Vampires – Folkloric Monsters, 19th Century Bloodthirsty Aristocrats and Vampires of Today

Horror fiction has always shown what people fear the most, and so is the case with vampires.

When exploring the character of the literary vampire, it is important to start from the beginning and state some facts that go beyond the borders of written literature: the characters’ folkloric roots. The folk stories about vampires have existed for centuries, and it is hard to explain why they appeared in the first place. Similar stories can be traced all over the world, including China, cultures of Australian Aborigines, ancient Mayans, Africa and many more. (Joshi 369-372) The stories appeared in different forms, and probably held different connotations. Even if we focus only on Eastern European tradition, from which the literature of the 19th century drew most of its inspiration, it is impossible to find all the contexts in which the vampires appeared. In old pagan traditions vampires were even worshipped and offered sacrifices. (Collins Jenkins 189) They were closely connected to pagan beliefs and, according to one of several theories, the words vampir, upir, upyr, upior and other similar forms are derived from Turkish word for witch – uber. The bloodlust, one of the most prominent features of the vampires, is thought to bear connection to pagan blood sacrifices. Accordingly, some linguists argue that the root of the word vampire is the Greek word pi meaning “to drink”. (Collins Jenkins 193)

Due to their large number and different backgrounds, the folk stories did not match and they varied to a great extent. In folklore, the characteristics and even names of creatures such as vampires, werewolves, ghosts and other eerie creatures overlapped, and the way people perceived them was not as specific as it is today. One of the creatures that were often intertwined with the vampire was the werewolf, mostly because sometimes in folklore the werewolves were suspected of becoming vampires after death. (Collins Jenkins 199-200) The words that originated from the Slavic word varkolak meaning “wolf pelt” (such as vurkolak in Turkish, volkudlak in Bulgarian, vurvolak in Albanian and vukodlak in Serbian and Croatian) are now mostly translated as ‘werewolf’, due to the obvious connection to wolves, but they originally denoted “a cosmic monster that caused eclipses by eating the sun or moon before setting back on earth and taking on the additional sense of the devouring dead.” (Collins Jenkins 200) (This description also reminds me of Nordic mythology and Loki’s son, wolf Fenrir.) The exception is the Greek vrykolakas which is usually interpreted as a vampire, though it was originally perceived as the undead spirit that glided through the night with a lantern in its hand, and was not always malicious. (Collins Jenkins 201/204)

The vampires gained their name and a bit more distinguished features in the seventeenth century. What connected all of these stories later on became the foundation on which the vampires gained their recognizable form. Those vampires were reanimated corpses with a thirst for blood. (Joshi 366) The reasons for their rising from the grave and some of their features varied, just as is the case with any other superstition. Even today the vampires change and become reinterpreted times and times again. However, vampires first had to become interesting to people so that their story could be developed further. As an important step, literary vampires adopted some aristocratic features so that they could therefore become a part of society, and get close to everything human. Once put in a story, the vampire was finally sketched in a more detailed way. It gained some of the characteristics we nowadays commonly associate with vampires, probably the most important being its appearance. They kept their roles as dreadful villains, and therefore it is inevitable that they came to represent all of the biggest fears of the contemporary society, including moral decline, and even political issues.

In 19th century literature, vampires rose from their tombs in human form, and came to represent human traits, but namely the bad ones. The first “aristocratic vampire” appeared in John William Polidori’s vampire story “The Vampyre” written in 1819. It was followed by the more popular CarmillaVarney the Vampire series and, of course, Dracula. Those literary vampires developed from the folkloric hideous monsters into more human-like and alluring creatures. What set literary vampires apart from the vampires of folk tales is the fact that they acted like people. Furthermore, their appearance became less repugnant, but this in a way made them even scarier. They could now prey without people even noticing them, and walk freely among them. Once the vampires managed to infiltrate the society, they inevitably acquired their place in it. Moreover, they took the roles of the aristocrats, and that gave them possibilities they would not have as common people. Vampires also started to represent all of high society’s fears – they gained many metaphorical meanings, and the stories in which they appeared became credible and even represented the way 19th century society functioned. First of all, literary vampires embodied the fear of moral decline and represented the primitive part of human nature that is in confrontation with social norms. Accordingly, all of the aforementioned authors dealt with themes of sexuality and emancipation of women which were considered dangerous, but they also show how people can easily get corrupted.

Lord Ruthven form “The Vampyre” represents an immoral, but attractive nobleman who has the power to enchant people, especially the ladies. He awakens their desires and makes them forget all the social rules, and that leads to their downfall. He is also an intriguing character, and demonstrates how easily people become fascinated with everything unfamiliar and obscure. Carmilla also corrupts the young ladies with her charm and good looks. She approaches a young girl named Laura as a friend, and creates a strong bond with her. The moral decline is in both cases connected with sexual desires. Carmilla can also be seen as embodiment the part of human character that is close to nature, closer to an animal than to a human being. She praises the nature, and also acts possessively towards Laura, unable to refrain from her desires.

Count Dracula is different in that aspect. Sexual allusions are mostly connected to Lucy, while Dracula mostly represents another kind of threat – he is a savage foreigner and also stands as a representative of the past, in opposition to contemporary society and technical innovations. Unlike Lord Ruthven and Carmilla, Dracula does not only represent moral “pollution” – the novel implies that the British were afraid of possible “reverse colonisation”, the foreigners overflowing the locals. The fear of foreigners was always present, and sadly, it is still present today, as people still connot escape completely from their prejudice.

Vampires became interesting characters that were not only monstrous villains, but also embodiments of issues that were considered dangerous, and a threat to everything that was considered civilised and human. Therefore, it is not surprising that all of the vampire characters are compared to animals. They also served to reinforce the accepted social behaviour by subtly warning the readers about the consequences of misbehaving. Unquestionably, vampires stepped out of the limitations of Gothic fiction by becoming more realistic and contemporary. Instead of inflicting irrational fear, the literary aristocratic vampires represented the real fears of the contemporary readers. The vampire stories were interesting because they were believable and tackled the issues that readers in the 19th century really thought about. Also, the aristocratic vampires were interesting as representatives of everything forbidden and dangerous, and that is a concept that people have always found attractive. Nowadays, people have still not become bored with vampire characters, which are continuously being adapted to the expectations and thought of the 21st century. The old stories, especially Dracula, are still read today because they depict the 19th century society, but also because the aristocratic vampire represents a creature that is not scary because of its monstrosity, but inflicts fear in an interesting and provoking way.

And what does this mean in the relation to the literary vampires today?  For example, Anne Rice’s novels are the exploration of vampires and what it means to be a bloodthirsty monster. Are they only ruled by their thirst for blood, or are they more similar to us than we thought? People do not accept that something is evil without questioning anymore. Say what you want about “new vampires”, but they show how the society has in some aspects changed for the better. Strict moral rules do not apply, women have fought for their right to be emancipated (and are still fighting), and we know that meeting people from all around the world enriches us.

What we fear the most is ourselves. We have become aware of the problems we have caused, both to our species, but also to the world in general. We see what people are capable of doing. We see that we can be monsters. And that is why fictional vampires (and other monsters) have become more and more human-like. And I think this is a good thing, even though a bit concerning. I may sound a bit too optimistic, but I’ll just say it anyway: it is important to start questioning ourselves and taking responsibility for our actions if we want to make the world a better place.


Bibliography:

Collins Jenkins, Mark. Vampire Forensics. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2010. Print.

Joshi, S. T. Encyclopedia of the Vampire. Santa Barbara, California: Greenwood, 2011. Print.