Thursday, July 14, 2022

[Review] - 'Strangers at Collins House' by Marilyn Ross

Did you think I had given up on reviewing the Dark Shadows novels? If your answer is yes, then you're dead wrong. Starting today, I'll be posting a new Dark Shadows review every Thursday. 

From 1966 to 1972, William Edward Daniel Ross published 32 Dark Shadows novels (minus the House of Dark Shadows novelization) under the pseudonym, Marilyn Ross. The book series didn't follow the soap operas' storylines. The first book, Dark Shadows, was partly a retelling of Victoria Winter's arrival in Collinsport. The second installment, Victoria Winters, was more or less a rehash of the second half of Dark Shadows, where Victoria gets mixed in with a mystery connected to the new guests at the Collins House (Collinwood).

Strangers at Collins House (the third novel) follows the same storyline theme, with new guests arriving at Collins House and Victoria Winters getting tangled up in another mystery. Who are new arrivals? Well, it's none other than Elizabeth Collins Stoddard's uncle, Henry Collins. Henry brought along his assistant Benjamin Willard, and Ben brought his son, Jack, and daughter-in-law, Molly.

Collins House has many secrets, including Henry's "special room," a recreation of his apartment at the Ritz Hampton Hotel in New York City. It's a haunting reminder of Henry's past, and he seldom leaves the room during his visits to Collins House. That is until he meets the beautiful governess Victora Winters and becomes besotted with her.

After Henry gives Victoria jewelry as a gift, weird things happen to her, starting with what appears to be a female spirit calling out her name and an encounter with a ghostly apparition. Is Collins House haunted? Or is there something foul in play here?  

Final Thoughts

Stranger at Collins House is the best out of the "Victoria Winters" standalone mysteries. What I mean by "standalone" is the pre-Barnabas Collins books. The story is just under 160 pages, and author Daniel Ross did an exceptional job fleshing out a familiar theme but with new guest-star characters. I especially liked Henry Collins, a man haunted by a past love who happens to the split image of Victoria Winters.

Once again, the orphan Victoria believes she might've found her parentage, but, once again, it turns out to be another red herring. Like in the television series, Victoria's parents were never revealed. The plotline disappeared after actress Alexandra Moltke left the series in 1968. The author, Daniel Ross, had planned on having Elizabeth Collins Stoddard's best friend as Victoria's mother. The publishers requested Dan Ross to drop the plotline entirely after Moltke's exit.

Overall, Strangers at Collins House is an exciting gothic mystery. It's an old novella based on a short-lived supernatural soap opera, so there are a few flaws here and there, but I devoured every page. 

1 comment:

  1. Oh, what a hoot! I watched the Dark Shadows reboot in 1991, and a couple of years ago we found the original on streaming and tried to watch it. We got about two and a half seasons in before we gave up. I had no idea there were novels. I'll have to give them a read!


I adore reading reader feedback! I will, however, remove all spam and pointless comments.

Please take note that I have the right to delete comments from this site. Please only post constructive and respectful feedback.