Thursday, July 28, 2022

[Review] - 'The Secret of Barnabas Collins' by Marilyn Ross

The cursed vampire Barnabas Collins finally makes his debut in the Dark Shadows lit-verse - that I couldn't read because it's not available on Kindle. All well! I had to skip over the self-titled sixth novel Barnabas Collins and jump right into The Secret of Barnabas Collins.

The Secret of Barnabas Collins was first published in January 1969 under W.E. Daniel Ross's pen name Marilyn Ross. While most tie-ins try their best not to divert too much from the source canon, the Dark Shadows novels (more like novellas) went in the opposite direction. In the soap opera series, Willie Loomis released Barnabas Collins from his coffin imprisonment in 1967. Daniel Ross created an alternate timeline where the cursed vampire never got chained to a coffin for 170 years. Instead, Barabas was allowed to live through the centuries as an immortal vampire, free to do whatever his dead heart desired.  

The one and only governess, Victoria Winters, has a small part at the beginning of this story, which helps set up Barnabas Collins's flashback tale. As readers, we travel back to 1870 London, where Barnabas falls in love with the twenty-year-old heiress Lady Clare Duncan because of her likeness to long-lost love Josette. The relationship turns into horror when Clare witnesses Barnabas draining the life out of actress Eileen O'Mara. Terrified about what she witnessed, Clare runs away from Barnabas, but she can't get the handsome vampire out of her mind . . .or her heart.

After receiving word that Barbabas had left the country, Clare, along with her handmaid Belle, travel to the island of Mont-Saint-Michel in France, where they encounter the sinister Dr. Henri Fontaine. After the ordeal, Clare and Belle hop aboard the Morning Starship, where they meet the medium who gives Clare a warning - she is being haunted by Fontaine's spirit.

Eventually, Clare ends up in Collinsport, Maine and reunites with Barnabas, but their reunion isn't a happily ever after.

Final Thoughts

Diverging away from the soap opera television storylines was a risky and genius decision that gave Ross the freedom to explore Barnabas Collins without any confinements. Though, there were probably some restrictions set in stone by the publisher. The Secret of Barnabas Collins has an original gothic story, just with a familiar vampire character. The love story borrows a little from Bram Stoker's Dracula and Hammer Film Productions' movies from the 1960s. I'm a fan of both, so any resemblances are alright in my book.

Overall, The Secret of Barnabas Collins is a well-written victorian romanesque that I thoroughly enjoyed reading from beginning to end. 

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed your review. I remember Dark Shadows the soap, but it's been so long. I may check out the lit verse.


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