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Wanda's Book Reviews

I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles.  (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).

Currently reading

The Last Neanderthal: A Novel
Claire Cameron
Orson Scott Card
Richard Ford
Progress: 36/420 pages

Dark Shadows : Angelique's Descent / Lara Parker

Dark Shadows: Angelique's Descent - Lara Parker

Dark Shadows’s two most popular characters, Barnabas Collins and Angelique, were eternally bound by love and hate. Now actress Lara Parker, Angelique herself, tells the story of how it all began.
The dashing heir of a New England shipping magnate, Barnabas Collins captures the heart of the exquisite, young Angelique amidst the sensual beauty of Martinique, her island home. But Angelique’s brief happiness is doomed when Barnabas deserts her and becomes engaged to another. With this one betrayal, Barnabas unleashes an evil that will torment him for all time.
For Angelique is no ordinary woman. Raised in the mysterious black art of voodoo witchcraft, she long ago pledged her soul to darkness and became immortal. Vowing to destroy Barnabas, a vengeful Angelique damns him to eternal life as a vampire—a companion to accompany her forever. Little does Angelique understand the depth of Barnabas’s fury....


My boyfriend and I got talking recently about the factors that have shaped our literary tastes. I’m a devoted fantasy reader, which started with Tolkien, and he is similarly committed to the world of Sherlock Holmes. We found we had wide-ranging influences, including books, comic books and TV shows. We share fond memories of the campy Batman show featuring Adam West, comic books like Superman and Turok Son of Stone, the Wizard of Oz, and the animated Spiderman series on TV when we were kids.

It’s funny what these wide-ranging conversations can shake loose in the dusty recesses of your memory—it got me remembering how much I enjoyed the show Dark Shadows, a weekly soap opera featuring the immortal Barnabus Collins, a doomed vampire, and his aristocratic family to whom he returns. On a whim, I searched our public library’s database, thinking maybe I could access DVDs of the series, but what I found was a three book series, written by one of the original cast members of the earliest incarnation of that title. (Lara Parker played Angelique, the female antagonist to Barnabus).

Now I’ve done some research and I think that the version of Dark Shadows that I fondly remember must be the 1991 remake, but I’m just not sure. I could have sworn that I watched this series while still living at home with my parents (and I left to go to university in 1979) and its becoming obvious to me that my past memories are not to be trusted with regard to time—i.e., when something happened. I think a bit more research on YouTube may be in order in the near future.

Be that as it may, I requested this first book of the trilogy and was pleasantly surprised—it is very much a soap opera, with lots of emotional drama, plenty of voodoo, and a generous dash of black magic. The actress author is a reasonably good writer and, having played Angelique for many years, she has a great vision for Angelique’s back story which is the focus of this book. Barnabus only becomes a vampire at the book’s end and the tale continues in the next volume.

Dark Shadows is probably one of the pop culture influences that have gradually transformed the vampire from a disgusting, terrifying revenant (think Stoker’s Dracula or film’s Nosferatu) into the handsome, romantic character that features so prominently in recent fiction (think Twilight or Anne Rice’s works).

I certainly wouldn’t push this book on anyone else, but for me it is scratching an itch that I acquired in my stroll down memory lane. (I’m also on the hunt for some Turok Son of Stone comics, stemming from the same conversation, because who doesn’t want to read about Native Americans fighting dinosaurs?)