Everyone needs a bit of escapism once in a while (especially now when elections are coming up in the UK and my facebook newsfeed is flooded with idiocy), so these days I’ve been reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories. My copy is a Penguin Classics, which includes The Lair of the White Worm.
In short, 4 years after Dracula, I’m reading his horror stories. Guess what, I prefer them.
So far, of the 9 short stories, I’ve read 7. My favourites are “The Judge’s House” and “The Squaw”. There isn’t much to say about these stories, as (most) horror stories are to be read, not analysed. The plot is relatively simple. “The Judge’s House” is about a science student who goes to a strange town and stays at a house for peace and quiet, which turns out to be a haunted house of a cruel judge. “The Squaw” is a revenge tale in which an American tourist kills a little kitten by accident in front of its mother and is followed by the cat.
The plot is simple, but Bram Stoker’s brilliant at creating atmosphere and building up tension. “The Burial of the Rats” is a good example of tension and suspense, as the story’s written from the point of view of a tourist being chased in the dark by a group of silent murderous rag-pickers. “Dracula’s Guest” is also good, which could be a draft, an original opening, a deleted episode, or just a story on its own (it’s complete on its own)—an enjoyable read for those who want a bit more of Dracula. But the best stories here are “The Judge’s House” and “The Squaw”, especially in the use of the uncanny. A rat has baleful eyes, and a cat stares with hatred.