Tag Archives: book reviews

RAPPACCINI’S DAUGHTER (1844): HALLOWEEN STORY

Halloween Month continues with this neglected femme fatale from Nathaniel Hawthorne. FOR THE OTHER CREATURES IN THIS MONSTER RALLY CLICK HERE 

Rappaccini's Daughter 2BEATRICE RAPPACCINI

First Appearance: Rappaccini’s Daughter (1844)

Cryptid Category: Human-plant hybrid.

Lore: Beatrice Rappaccini, also called the Poison Woman, had been experimented on by her mad scientist father since infancy. Some dark rumors even held that the father – Doctor Giacomo Rappaccini – had spawned her from a seed-pod and that his tales of a wife were lies.

Beatrice was so toxic that she was the only one alive who could come into contact with the monstrous and deadly plants in her father’s courtyard garden. The Poison Woman’s beauty drove men wild, tempting many admirers to brave the dangers of her father’s mutated plant life.

The dark beauty’s flesh was a toxic poison and her breath could kill insects, snakes, rats and small children. Dead creatures made the ideal fertilizer for the creations of Beatrice’s father. It was hinted that Beatrice fed on the vermin killed by her breath, just like Venus Flytraps and other carnivorous plant-life. Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN THIRTEEN: THE DAY THE MONUMENTS SHATTERED

FOR PART ONE OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF THIS OLD, OLD MARVEL COMICS STORYLINE CLICK HERE  The revisions I would make are scattered throughout the synopsis below.

Killraven day monuments shatteredAMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 #31 (July 1975)

Title: The Day The Monuments Shattered 

Freemen: Killraven, M’Shulla, Old Skull, Carmilla Frost, Hawk, Volcana Ash, Adam 3031 and Eve 3031 and Carmilla’s creation Grok (Deathlok in my revisions)

Synopsis: This is the 4th and final part of the Death-Birth storyline. It is April, 44 years from now. Killraven and his Freemen, a band of rebels fighting Earth’s alien conquerors, have arrived in the ruins of Gary, IN, along the southern shore of Lake Michigan.

It is nighttime and Killraven has chosen to set up camp in a cave on a nearby hill. This will give him and his Freemen the high ground and a defensible position as they await the final battle with their pursuers.

sacrificerThose pursuers: Atalon – white-shirted human quisling administrator of Death-Birth, the now-destroyed alien fortress where they raised humans like cattle since they eat human flesh – and the Sacrificer, green-clad medical madman who used to prepare those cannibal meals for the aliens, including their favorite delicacy – human infants carved out of their mother’s body shortly before they are due to deliver.

Backing up Atalon and the Sacrificer are dozens of Death Breeders, their armed troops in uniforms resembling skeleton outlines. 

Eve 3031, one of the human “breeding stock” liberated by our heroes last issue, is about to give birth, so the aforementioned cave will help shelter her and her baby as her mate, Adam 3031, attends her.

NOTE: Writer Don McGregor would later recycle this tableau of a final battle taking place around a woman giving birth in his post-apocalypse comic book Sabre. In that book the villainous Joyful Slaughter (real subtle, eh) and his troops attacked the rebel settlement where Sabre’s wife Melissa Siren was giving birth. Continue reading

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GRAVEYARD SHIFT: JON MALIN AND MARK POULTON’S HALLOWEEN HEROES

Graveyard Shift vol 2Halloween month continues here at Balladeer’s Blog with a look at the first two volumes of Graveyard Shift, the “monsters as superheroes” sensation drawn by THE Jon Malin and written by Mark Poulton.

The introductory Graveyard Shift graphic novel presented the team’s “senses-shattering origin.” To quote the creators: “Scientists Vladimir Blud, Lillith Mayhew and her husband, head of security Mick Mayhew are working on advance human regeneration for the mysterious ATLANTIS CORPORATION. Betrayed, murdered and put into their own experiments they are reborn with super human abilities, they are the GRAVEYARD SHIFT and they are all that can stop a rising supernatural evil from taking over the world!”

Graveyard ShiftGraveyard Shift Volume Two featured the team taking on the reborn menace of Dracula himself and his legions. The first two installments raised six figures each on Indiegogo and it is presumed that the third volume, expected in 2020, will continue that trend.

Malin is one of the comic book “Outlaws” going their own way to pursue their vision free of the corporate influence of the Big Two publishers. He has also worked with fellow Outlaw Richard Meyer on his indy superhero team called Jawbreakers. Continue reading

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NOUGHTS AND CROSSES (1891): HALLOWEEN STORIES BY Q

Just one week left until Halloween! Balladeer’s Blog continues its month-long celebration.

Arthur Quiller CouchNOUGHTS AND CROSSES: COLLECTED SHORT STORIES (1891) – Written by “Q” aka Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch, this was a collection of his short stories. Those stories: 

DOUBLES AND QUITS – This tale dealt with a feuding husband and wife who take their bitterness beyond the grave. After burial their ghosts continue their hate-filled struggle. 

THE HAUNTED DRAGOON – A sergeant in the dragoons helps his mistress murder her husband, then sells her out so that she gets all the blame. Her ghost and the ghost of her child begin haunting the man.

THE LADY OF THE SHIP – Lady Alicia of Bohemia is a beautiful witch. Despite the evidence of her dark nature a well-to-do man marries her, convinced he can save her. The tale nears its climax when the Devil arrives in human form to claim the witch’s soul.  Continue reading

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THE WERWOLVES (1898): HALLOWEEN STORY

Balladeer’s Blog’s month-long celebration of Halloween continues with this look at  Canadian werewolf lore.

the werwolvesTHE WERWOLVES (sic) (1898) – Written by Honore Beaugrand, this story features fairly unique werewolf lore. The tale is not structured in a traditional way but instead expands upon accounts of lycanthropy in campfire tales as if they really, truly happened.

A modern comparison might be with those far-fetched tales of the supernatural from supermarket tabloids or online Creepypastas. The pretense of reality adds to the fun.

Set in the very early 1700s The Werwolves treats readers to a pack of Iroquois lycanthropes rampaging around Quebec and elsewhere in Canada. These werewolves are much more intelligent and gregarious than many other such monsters.

They operate in a pack to steal away victims and even dance around a fire in their wolfmen forms howling and chanting before devouring their victims.

These Canadian variations also look much different than readers might expect: they have the heads of wolves and the tails of wolves but the rest of their bodies remain human after their nocturnal transformation.  Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN TWELVE: THE HELL DESTROYERS

FOR PART ONE OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF THIS OLD, OLD MARVEL COMICS STORYLINE CLICK HERE  The revisions I would make are scattered throughout the synopsis below. 

Killraven the hell destroyersAMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 #29 (March 1975)

Title: The Hell Destroyers 

Synopsis: April, 44 years in the future. We pick up where we left off last time around, deep in the heart of Death-Birth, a combined fortress and breeding farm run by Earth’s alien conquerors. Killraven, leader of a group of Freemen fighting the aliens and their human quislings, stands alongside three of his followers: Hawk (Native American), Old Skull (the big, bald, brawny one) and Volcana Ash (a woman genetically engineered into a mutate capable of generating and shooting fire).

The four of them have taken a moment to relish the reunion of Adam 3031 with his very pregnant “breeding partner” Eve 3031. The couple infuriated Earth’s conquerors by falling in love despite their degrading status as livestock for the extraterrestrials, who eat human flesh.

Facing all of them from across the futuristic operating room stand two human quislings, the main villains of this 4-part story. (This is Part 3) Atalon is the sadistic man who serves as the administrator of Death-Birth. He is hideous but has an obsession with cleanliness, especially regarding his white uniform. (Obviously a reference to Dr Mengele from the Nazi death camps.)

sacrificerThe other quisling is known only as the Sacrificer, clad in green and gold. Like Atalon he is ugly but his ugliness is amplified by his metal cybernetic jaw with jagged steel teeth. His amputated right arm has been outfitted with assorted cybernetic blades which can be used as weapons or as surgical tools in the perverse “operations” he performs.  

Eve 3031 has now been saved from the fate of having the Sacrificer carve her unborn baby out of her womb to serve as the piece de resistance in another of the feasts of human flesh which he prepares for the aliens (Zetans in my revisions, Martians in the original comic book).

Our heroes know that more of Atalon’s shock troops, called Death Breeders, will be arriving at any moment so they decide to vacate the area. They are still intent on freeing the thousands of Adams and Eves imprisoned in Death-Birth and then destroying the fortress itself. Continue reading

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CITY OF VAMPIRES (1867)

Halloween Month moved another notch today. Balladeer’s Blog continues its month-long celebration with a look at another neglected gem of horror fiction.

Vampire city 2LA VILLE-VAMPIRE (City of Vampires) 1867 – Written by the accomplished and prolific Paul Feval, it’s Village of Vampires, or City of Vampires or, if you prefer, Vampire City (Wham, bam, thank you ma’am! Va- va- va- Vampire CIT-EEE! … Had to be said.)

Paul Feval’s heroine in this story is the young Ann Ward, who went on to be Ann Radcliffe, pioneer of Gothic Horror through such works as The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Italian. Ann’s friends Cornelia de Witt and Ned Barton depart for the continent with their new acquaintance Otto Goetzi.

Vampire CityGoetzi turns out to be a vampire who lures Cornelia and Ned deeper and deeper into a trap. Back in England, Ann Ward deduces all this from odd letters that she receives from her friends and from horrific premonitions which come to her in nightmares.

Ann and a much older family servant called Grey Jack cross the English Channel to come to the rescue of Ann’s friends. Soon the trail leads to Belgrade and then to a dismal city called Selene by outsiders but known as the Sepulchre to its inhabitants, all of whom are vampires.    Continue reading

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