This book counts for both the Peril of the Short Story for R.I.P. XI hosted by the blog Stainless Steel Droppings and for my last read for the category Classic Short Stories for the Back to the Classics Challenge 2016 hosted by the blog Books and Chocolate.
Initially I was going to read some Daphne Du Maurier short stories, but the two collections that I had did not fit the Back to the Classics criteria, since they only had 6 stories each and the rule is the book must contain at least 8 stories. So I was delighted to happen upon this book at my library; all the stories were originally written and/or published well over 50 years ago and the volume has 13 stories in it (no doubt that “unlucky” number was purposefully chosen).
I chose this collection primarily because of the opening novella titled Carmilla by Sheridan le Fanu. This is supposed to be the granddaddy (or grandmammy?) of the modern vampire novel, including Dracula. My reaction to Carmilla is somewhat similar, however, to my reaction to Dracula. I sometimes have trouble with old-timey horror because often it is so obvious to the modern reader just what is going on, it can make the protagonists seem a bit thick when they don’t cop on. But that aside, the bits in Carmilla about the narrator being stalked by a black beast in her dreams were quite scary.
I was also happily surprised to see stories by favored authors M.E. Braddon and E.F. Benson included. Of the 13 tales, I think I liked best “The Transfer" by Algernon Blackwood for sheer originality (the monster wants more than just blood in this one). Also, just for a consummate expression of paranoia as well as for originality, “The Horla” by Guy de Maupassant is worth reading. In a more traditional vein (pun intended!), I quite enjoyed “Dracula’s Guest” by Bram Stoker (which per the introduction is a chapter that was cut from the novel for length reasons). It reminded me of the parts of Dracula that I liked best, such as Jonathan Harker’s first encounter with the count in his castle. And finally I was pleased to read the entertaining “Mrs. Amworth" by E.F. Benson and the romantic yet chilling, “Good Lady Ducayne" by Mary Elizabeth Braddon.
All in all this is a good collection of a variety of vampire tales from the mid –Victorian period to the Edwardian and a must for any blood-sucking fiction completist.