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Book Review: FANTASMAGORIANA: “The Fated Hour”

I got sidetracked. I blame it on the fact that I have FANTASMAGORIANA on my Nook instead of possessing a physical copy. If I have a physical object lying on the bedside table it’s much harder to forget it, to get sidetracked reading other things. Or, more accurately, it’s just as easy to get sidetracked reading other things but harder to forget to start back reading the book you were reading in the first place. Time to get caught up, then.

I’m working my way through the stories in FANTASMAGORIANA. This is the collection of ghost stories read by Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley, John Polidori, and Claire Clairmont during the “Haunted Summer” of 1816 at the Villa Diodati in Switzerland, the stories that inspired Polidori to write THE VAMPYRE and Mary Shelley to write FRANKENSTEIN. The most recent selection I’ve read is “The Fated Hour.”

When reviewing for a mainstream audience I must take off my English major’s hat and seek to see things as the ordinary weirdo would see them. With a story like “The Fated Hour,” where the style of writing is, by today’s standards, overly verbose and stodgy, all I can really critique for you is the plot of the story, and perhaps its characters. “The Fated Hour” is a simple story featuring only five stock characters and dealing with a doppelganger and a family curse. Meant, it seems, to be spooky and atmospheric instead of thrilling, with no violence or bloodletting, it succeeds as its author intended. It *is* spooky and atmospheric. I finished it in one reading and then fell asleep satisfied. Sadly I had no nightmares.

TheCheezman • March 5, 2019


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