A lot of readers and bloggers are delving into their libraries and ARC’s for some appropriate reading this October.
But, and I have no idea why, my inner goblin just wasn’t feeling it.
I tried zombie stories. I’ve been reading a lot this year and am looking forward to season two of The Walking Dead starting tonight.
Maybe that was the problem. Too much of a good thing. After a while my spook-o-meter was barely registering. I needed something that I wasn’t familiar with, something that would creep me out, but not so much I’d have to sleep with the lights on for several weeks after finishing.
Vampires are cool. But I tend toward either the classic version or one’s with an interesting twist like Guillermo Del Torro’s The Strain. Which reminds me, I need to read book three of the trilogy, but it’s one of those I know will scare me a little too much, and I was looking for a some frighteningly fun middle ground.
I did find an interesting book in the store where I work. It’s called Renfield: Slave of Dracula. It seems like it would be a great companion piece to Stoker’s work. Much like Mary Reilly to The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Which brings me to the cure for my apparent malaise.
In another I-could-just-kick-myself-for-never-reading-sooner moment, I read Robert Louis Stevenson’s story of the dark side of man personified and exposed. I had no idea it would go so quickly, and not just because it is a novella, with most editions being less than 100 pages.
I even made the effort to pull down Valerie Martin’s book to read as I liked the movie and hoped the book was better – and it is. It is also a short novel and easily read in one or two sittings.
My recommendation is that if you have never read either, read them together. If you’ve only read Dr. Jekyll, then I highly recommend you re-read it with Mary Reilly. You will not be disappointed.
Both are dark and disturbing. One exploring the inability to deal with the evil within, the other giving voice to the victims of such evil. The perspectives of the main characters in each book help give a more complete view of how people and society deal with something that lives within us all.
Dr. Jekyll thought he could banish it, destroy it. His folly only made things worse, amplifying the darkness inside all of us and becoming a prisoner to it.
Mary Reilly, before working for Dr. Jekyll, had her own experiences with a man who could not contain his demons. Yet she does not become fear’s captive. Interesting since this is set in Victorian times and women’s roles in society were such that her strength and character stand out against the backdrop of such a sexist society.
I feel it is no coincidence that Valerie Martin developed her story from a woman’s point of view. How better to showcase and manipulate the theme of duality? Stevenson’s work is nearly without a female presence, whereas Martin’s Reilly is all feminine as it is told in the first person.
Reading these two books was exactly what I needed. I am more in the Halloween mood than I was last week.
I might even go buy some bags of candy today.
Or maybe not. Unless I can hide them really well, including from myself, it might be better to wait until the night before – or even the day of. My scale, and dentist, will thank me.