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Book Review: FANTASMAGORIANA: “The Death Bride”

The basic antagonist of the tale, the titular Death Bride, is formidable enough. The vengeful wraith of a woman who was cruel in life, driving her lover to his death, returns to prey on the living. This entity can assume other identities, but not the identity of any living person. Thus she appears as a recently dead young beauty. She leads men astray, causing them to forsake their lovers and run away with her, whereafter they are found dead. A worthy monster around which to construct a tale. Ah, but alas, the execution!

I’m an English major. I readily understand Shakespeare. Yet even I, I confess, had a hard time keeping up with the plot of this one. A story within a story within a story. A narrator telling a story within the larger story, about someone telling a story! I forgot who was supposed to be talking. If I didn’t know better I’d suspect this was a case of a writer who was getting paid by the word and was simply padding out the story to get a bigger payoff. This tale could easily have been cut by two-thirds and been more effective. And I still don’t quite understand the ending. I mean, it’s clear enough what happened, but not why it happened. Give this one a try and see if you can make more of it than I did. It has left me, as the old saying goes, out to sea. It does involve blood-drinking, and wine turning into blood, and some half-dozen other trappings that I don’t quite get in their relation to the overall narrative. Could this story in its original form have comprised two different narratives that were then fused into one overstuffed whole?

TheCheezman • March 22, 2019

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