Thursday, September 1, 2022

[Review]—'Barnabas Collins Versus the Warlock' by Marilyn Ross

I haven't seen an episode of the Dark Shadows soap opera in many (many) years. According to what I recall, the creator, Dan Curtis, and his writing staff ran out of supernatural concepts, or, to put it another way, they basically used and reused every horror trope imaginable. As a result, the series came to an end. While his plots swayed away from the television storylines, William Edward Daniel Ross (a.k.a. Marilyn Ross) took the same approach with his Dark Shadows novels by incorporating every horror trope into his stories. This gave him the freedom to place the cursed vampire Barnabas Collins in unusual situations. 

Barnabas Collins Versus the Warlock, the eleventh book in the series, was first published in October 1969. Maggie Evan has a lot on her plate as the new governess for young David Collins and his playmate, Amy Jennings. When the kids tricked Maggie into a nearby bog, the situation shifted from simple, practical jokes to something more serious. Maggie's (unarmored) knight in shining armor, Barnabas, arrives just in time to save her. The children claim that a "phantom man" is forcing them to act cruelly against their will. 

The last thing Collinwood needs right now is an unexpected guest knocking on the door while David and Amy are already having a terrible time, but a Dark Shadows narrative wouldn't be complete without one. Nora, the cousin of Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, her husband, Dr. Eli Bremmer, and Noel Hart, his secretary, join in on the fun. They arrange a seance with the assistance of Dr. Eli Bremmer, a psychic researcher who is thirty years Nora's senior and has a passion for learning about the paranormal.

The plot then begins to diverge. The author managed to weave a story about Barnabas and Maggie's romance between the murders, the hunt for long-lost gold, the warlock, and the hippies. Yes, there are hippies.

Final Thoughts

The story of Barnabas Collins Versus the Warlock is the strangest and most predictable book in Ross's Dark Shadows series. Please keep in mind that I thoroughly loved reading it, but hippies! Seriously? I understood. I understand. When the book was published in 1969, hippies were everywhere.★★★½✰

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