ROSAURA (1817) – Written by Friedrich Fouque. Halloween Month 2017 is dying quickly. Here is another neglected story from the late Gothic Horror period. Rosaura has a fairly unique supernatural premise so that alone should have earned it a wider following by now.
No vampires or ghosts or werewolves feature in this tale, but instead a more offbeat kind of supernatural horror. Count von Wildeck packs up his guns and wears his finest clothing for a visit to the castle of Colonel von Haldenbach, whose niece Rosaura he wants to romance.
After an amiable first day of the visit, Count von Wildeck is warned by his host the Colonel to lock himself very securely in his bedroom. The Colonel seems tempted to explain things more clearly to Von Wildeck but is too frightened.
That night the curious Count is nearly killed by a crazed Colonel von Haldenbach and while out hunting the following day he has to defend himself from being shot to death by Rosaura himself.
Struggling to stay alive, Von Wildeck eventually learns the truth: over a hundred years earlier the Von Haldenbachs attacked and burned the Von Wildeck’s ancestral home, wiping out nearly the entire family line.
A dying Von Wildeck placed a curse upon the Von Haldenbach line. For three weeks out of every year, corresponding to the dates of the siege and destruction of the Count’s ancestors, every living Von Haldenbach becomes uncontrollably crazed and homicidal.
The Colonel and his kin want the Count dead because the curse was intended to last until there were no more Von Wildecks. Killing our protagonist will end the curse, but just like most modern readers, the Count can think of another way to lift said curse.
I like the whole “George Romero’s The Crazies go Goth” appeal of the story. Not a classic by any means but a nice change of pace for the Halloween Season. +++
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