Odds and DEAD Ends: Resurrecting The Queen

Resurrecting The Queen: Queen Tera in Bram Stoker’s The Jewel of Seven Stars,

When people think of Bram Stoker, they invariably think of Dracula. His novel, The Jewel of Seven Stars, is perhaps overshadowed simply by the importance of the vampire, but it is by no means an inferior novel. Detailing the attempt to resurrect an ancient Egyptian Queen, the novel went on to inspire movies such as Hammer’s Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb, and in some ways the Universal adaptation of The Mummy with Tom Cruise. In this article, I will discuss Queen Tera, and the way she is portrayed as a constant threat to patriarchal society.

To note, I’m using a copy of the novel which includes the original ending and the second, revised ending. I’m basing my discussion on the original ending because it’s darker and, presumably, the direction Stoker originally intended. Also, selfishly, because I much prefer it.

Let us first note that, aside from Margaret Trelawny (and a brief mention of her mother), Queen Tera is the only female character in the novel, and she never utters a word. Her characterization is presented through the male characters of the novel; the documentation of Van Huyn’s book, or the recounting of Corbeck and Trelawny. The power that she exhumes, therefore, may or may not be interpreted to be being played up by the male characters to increase the sense of a threat that she poses. Note that before we are given a name, we have the warning that “‘The “Nameless One” has insulted them and is forever alone. Go not nigh, lest their vengeance wither you away.’” (P.84)

With all that in mind, what is initially deciphered from the sarcophagus reveals Tera to have challenged the male-dominated society of the priests, “‘who had by then achieved immense power’” (p.87). “‘In the statement, it was plainly set forth that the hatred of the priests was, she knew, stored up for her, and that they would after her death try to suppress her name.’” (p.88). Their motivation is her strength in being able to combat their overthrowing of the monarchy, “‘They were then secretly ready to make an effort… that of transferring the governing power from a Kingship to a Hierarchy.’” (p.87) The priests, to their own gain, attempt to get rid of her, “‘make out that the real Princess Tera had died in the experiment, and that another girl had been substituted, but she conclusively proved their error.’” (P.88)

Tera, however, shows incredible resilience thanks to her own determination and learning from her father, “‘He had also had her taught statecraft, and had even made her learned in the lore of the very priests themselves.’” (p.87). She even breaks the tradition of a male ruler, though others try to align her to it. “‘In the following picture she was in female dress, but still wearing the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt, while the discarded male raiment lay at her feet.’” (P.88). She is very much her own woman, not afraid to show her sex, going against the patriarchy set up for the Kingship, and against the priesthood. “‘She seems to have seen through the weakness of her own religion.’” (p.113)

Her intelligence is noted by the present-day protagonists, who even say that the mummy’s gender may affect their knowledge of the situation, that “Men may find that what seemed empiric deductions were, in reality, the results of a loftier intelligence and a learning greater than our own.” (P.164) Mr. Trelawny also states that:

“We might have known that the maker of such a tomb – a woman, who had shown in other ways such a sense of beauty and completeness, and who had finished every detail with such a feminine richness of elaboration – would not have neglected such an architectural feature.” (P.95)

However, Queen Tera possesses a knowledge which the others do not, which ensures their eventual demise and her assumed resurrection. As is noted by Carol A. Senf, “What makes Tera so overwhelming is her violence and ability to over-power the assembled experts.” (p.107). The science and understanding of all the men in the room cannot save them from Tera’s avenging evil, just as the priests could not stop her eventual revival.

It is this knowledge of another world, knowledge beyond that of the priests and the protagonists, that they fear. Women’s rights movements are slowly gaining momentum at the time, and just a few years before the novel’s publication, in 1898, Stoker’s native Ireland had the Irish Women’s Suffrage and Local Government Association arise from the Dublin Women’s Suffrage Association. Gender politics is on the rise, and the female threats to patriarchal power could not have been far from Stoker’s mind.

This fear of female invasion to the modern patriarchal society is what makes Tera so terrifying. Killing dozens of people throughout the recorded events, based on a combination of ambition and supernatural power, fuelled by a wrath based on gender politics very closely linked to the rising gender politics of Stoker’s time, Queen Tera is an overshadowed classic villain of gothic horror. With gender politics still very much in the public consciousness in today’s world, perhaps revisiting this pushed-aside novel by one of modern horror’s founding fathers, is worth the time for all of us.

Article by Kieran Judge

Bibliography

Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb. 1971. [Film] Directed by Seth Holt. United Kingdom: Hammer.

Senf, C. A., 2010. Bram Stoker. Wales: University of Wales Press.

Stoker, B., 2009. The Jewel of Seven Stars. United States of America: Seven Treasures Publications.

The Mummy. 2017. [Film] Directed by Alex Kurtzman. United States of America: Universal.

 

 

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David’s Haunted Library: Siphoners

 

Four people from different backgrounds, they have nothing in common except one big problem. They have the power to siphon people’s life force but sometimes they kill their victims. Little by little they are losing control over their powers and people are disappearing or dying.

Through a set of random encounters, the four siphoners: Donovan, Seth, Avanti, and Frederick find each other. They discover that someone is controlling them and there is more to their powers then they realized. They are now on a quest to find the source of what makes them different and along the way, they find a future they never expected

Siphoners by Evan Bollinger is a psychological horror novel with elements of Science Fiction. The Siphoners are never called vampires but to me they came acros as psychic vampires. This book was like a mixed bag for me. It is a good book but I felt it could have been better. There were some action scenes where I wasn’t sure what was going on and I got tired of the sex and drug references.

Out of the 4  main characters I only liked two of them and in all cases I would liked to have gotten to know their personalities better before we got into their powers. Avanti was one of the ones I liked, she comes across as a strong woman who happens to have a problem she doesn’t understand. The other one I liked was Donovan. My favorite part of the book was seeing him get to college for the first time and hearing about how he has been sick his whole life. We then see him realize how he is a fish out of water in his new dorm and he doesn’t really know how to act. At this point he doesn’t realize he has powers and thinks he’s just weird.

I would have liked to see more scenes where Donovan is trying to fit into his surroundings but can’t. Instead the story goes straight for his powers being out of control. This isn’t a bad book though. I love the concept of siphoning life force but I thought the story could have been told a little better. The book has its moments though and I would be interested in further installments of the series and I would read more writings of Evan Bollinger.

David’s Haunted Library: Mountain Sickness

Telluride is a small remote town in the Colorado Rockies and it’s a playground for the rich and famous. People come from all over to ski here and the city’s economy is dependent on tourism. It wasn’t always that way though, it started as a mining town but the mine was considered dangerous and closed down. Since then, Telluride has been a winter paradise until a mysterious plague starts to affect the guests.

Telluride isn’t an easy place to get in and out of, so when disaster strikes there is nowhere to run to. It starts with normal people turning into raving lunatics; it ends with them changing into flesh-eating zombies. To make matters worse, the town is being rocked by a blizzard and the locals and tourists alike will have to work together to survive and keep the zombie virus from spreading. If you ever wanted to know what the zombie apocalypse would be like in a blizzard than Mountain Sickness by Frank Martin is your chance to find out.

My first thought when I saw this book was: “Zombies in a snowstorm, sounds like fun.” I can’t think of any other zombie books or movies that take place in a cold climate so I found this idea appealing. My one complaint about this book is that it takes a long time to get into the action. There are so many characters being introduced in the beginning that it’s hard to keep track of everyone. Once we see the first person sick with the zombie virus the story gets good real quick.

It’s not just the setting that makes this zombie story different, it’s also how the people are before they change. The victims fly into a rage before they become zombies and in the beginning, they start as fast-moving zombies. One of my favorite scenes was when one of the ski resort’s employees named Chris goes to find his girlfriend as the people are turning into zombies. He finds her close to death and her dying wish is for Chris to save a boy named Ryan. Chris starts looking for Ryan and as he does he sees himself as a man who has never committed to the life he truly wanted and now he has to fulfill his girlfriend’s dying wish. This made me fall in love with the character Chris and as we see him try to rescue Ryan, he finds another survivor on the way, a 13-year-old girl named Stephanie.

Stephanie is another character in this story I fell in love with. In the beginning, she is a normal teenage girl but we see her become a different person as she deals with the loss of her family and is forced to become an adult as society collapses around her. One scene I loved has Stephanie walking up to someone changing into the living dead and knocking them out with one punch. Seems unbelievable but the zombie didn’t see it coming. The most interesting part of this book is seeing how all of the characters change as they realize that if the zombies don’t get them then they will probably die in the blizzard. The setting and the characters make Mountain Sickness a must read.

 

 

David’s Haunted Library: The Noctuary Pandemonium

Simon Ryan was a talented writer, he had a hard life and the dark muses in the underworld want to use him as a scribe. Now he writes words that aren’t his own and every horrifying sentence he writes comes to life in the real world. With his new power, he is given the chance to rewrite his dark past but some things can’t be changed and Simon goes missing.

A few years later, Psychiatrist, Dr. Desmond Carter finds a bloody manuscript from his former patient Simon, who he thought was dead. This sets off a chain reaction of events as the police are called along with Simon’s former agent Christina. Desmond finds out that if you write the manuscript in blood, what you write will come true, but at what cost? Now everything Desmond knew about himself and Simon is making him question his sanity and could lead to his damnation.

The Noctuary Pandemonium by Greg Chapman is an unapologetic horror novel. In the beginning, Greg describes the night as a shade of blood with people walking the street being stalked by their shadows. This is being described by someone who fears to lose his mind and he may be right. If this picture of darkness that Greg Chapman paints doesn’t sell you then this line will: “There is no finer art than the prose that terrifies! Fear is Primal!” With those words you know you are in for a gruesome read and the book doesn’t disappoint.

I love the concept here of muses from the underworld looking for someone to inspire darkness and destruction in humanity. What makes it interesting is how the people the muse chooses start to do it because they want to fix a problem. Good intentions don’t always lead to good results though and the chosen ones have to deal with the darkness that has always been inside them. The most interesting aspect to The Noctuary is that the spirits of the underworld aren’t really the bad guys, read it and you’ll understand.

There is a point in this novel where I had a lot of unanswered questions but all loose ends are tied up by the end. I loved the history behind the muses and how Hell is described almost as a living place. This book also gets into the idea of how what lies in the soul of man can be much darker than Hell and there is no escaping it. This book paints a bloody disturbing portrait that you will love if you’re a horror fan. The Noctuary Pandemonium is a dark thrill ride that will have you thinking harder about the consequences of every choice you make.

https://darkscrybe.com/

 

Ghost Of Manor House: A Review

Ghosts of Manor House by Matt Powers

Review by Stephanie Ellis

This novel was received free in return for an honest review.

A ghost story in October, what better time to read one than when the nights are drawing in and the wind howls mournfully outside. For such nights, of Ghosts Of Manor House is perfect. Between these pages, you will find the Haunted House and its equally disturbed companion, the old oak, Mr. Travels. Together they have been the site of many an unfortunate death and judicial hanging over the centuries.

It is to this house that Edmund and Mary Wilder and their surviving child, Stephanie, go in order to come to terms with the death of their son Tommy, Stephanie’s twin. What Edmund doesn’t realize, however, is the arrangement Mary has entered into with the house in order to reunite her family. Once there, life becomes vague and Edmund’s sense of reality is distorted by both house and tree. He believes himself to be alone, working on a novel, awaiting his wife’s arrival unaware she is already there somewhere. The innkeeper, Lucas and ancient housekeeper, Mrs. Krane play their parts, convincing him he can never leave until eventually, Edmund realizes the step he must take to be with his family once more.

This chilling tale serves as a nicely done homage to the authors own heroes which include Stephen King and Shirley Jackson.

https://www.ghostsofmanorhouse.com/

 

David’s Haunted Library: Ancient Enemies

The world’s governments are a place of secret agendas and backstabbing politicians. It’s even worse when the ruling class is made up of vampires called the order. Their ruling council is called the Hegemony and they have been in charge of world politics for centuries. Every continental territory is ruled by a Hegemon, the Hegemon in charge of North America is a vampire scientist named Caroline.

Ancient Enemies by Brian McKinley begins with Caroline about to leave for a summit meeting of the Hagemony to talk about the future. She is leaving her lover Avery in charge of their home. Avery has been developing psychic powers and has been feeling out of place in Caroline’s world. Now with Caroline gone, Avery is faced with trying to protect Caroline’s scientific secrets and he has found a new woman who is attracted to him. Meanwhile, Caroline is trying to keep her position of power in government.

It’s hard for me to write a good summary of this book because it’s so complex. While its promoted as a paranormal political thriller that’s not what interested me as I started reading it. It starts off from Avery’s viewpoint and he describes his experiences in Overeater’s Anonymous and his feelings for Caroline. He loves Caroline but admits that they are very different people and he feels they are growing apart because intellectually he is not in the same league with her. We then get to Caroline’s viewpoints where she makes it known that she loves Avery but feels that he doesn’t belong in her world, she wants to keep him close and protect him anyway. Caroline tries to give him a position in her cabinet but he shows that he is unqualified for it.  While Avery may not belong in the world of politics he has shown his worth in other areas.

The love story between Avery and Caroline is what sold me on Ancient Enemies. I loved hearing from both viewpoints and how they want to stay together despite the fact that they are so different. Things get more complicated when Avery meets someone more like him and Caroline starts to realize some hard truths about herself. Just when I thought that the love story was the best part of the book we get more into the secret society of The Hagemony and how their government is made up along with the corruption behind it.

Each branch of the Hagemoney is described in detail and they are all different depending on what part of the world they are located in. The third point of view in Ancient Enemies comes from Neko who resides in Jade Tiger’s entourage. Jade Tiger is the Hagemon from China who doesn’t know she has people in her court who plan to take her down. Neko’s public persona is very different from how she is in private and her world is turned upside down when her secret plans get spoiled by another.

Ancient Enemies is a sequel that works as a stand-alone novel. This book is a love story, political thriller, action adventure tale and a horror novel. It looks at the complexity of what makes a relationship and makes you look at how corrupt government is. The characters may be vampires but everything works as a metaphor for real life.  You may want to get this book because you like vampire fiction but the great writing and surprise plot twists will keep you hooked.

David’s Haunted Library: Cold Cuts

Antarctica is a hard place to survive in, it’s even harder when there are mutant penguins with tentacles running around. Ozzy is a pop culture geek and a junk food junkie while Ben takes himself seriously and is Ozzy’s polar opposite. Both are environmental scientists working in a lab at the bottom of the world in Antarctica.

They thought that putting up with each other, the isolation and the cold temperatures would be the hard parts of this job, but they thought wrong. Little did they know that the terrorist organization called The Order Of The Red Wolf has a Nuclear reactor that is affecting the whole continent causing Penguins to become monsters. There are no happy feet in this story.

Cold Cuts by Robert Payne Cabeen has action, horror and comedy with a story that moves along at the speed of light. It also manages to give us some memorable characters. One of them is Ozzy who transforms from an overweight misfit to an action hero with a love interest by the end. The story also has some strong female characters such as Terra and Lorelei who aren’t trained to fight but do a good job of it when they have to. The only negative part of this story is that we aren’t given a lot of information on The Order Of The Red Wolf which is the group that created the mutants in the first place, but that doesn’t take away from the story.

What I really love about this book is how it goes from gruesome to funny. Every time there is a scene with Penguins tearing someone apart you also seem to get a scene that is laugh out loud funny. This book has one of the funniest sex scenes that I’ve ever read in a book and there was another great moment that will make you look at the paintings of Bob Ross in a whole new light. Another scene that I enjoyed was when one of the characters gets attacked and keeps fighting off the penguins and repeating to everyone that: “My guts came out.”

Looking at Robert Payne Cabeen’s bio you can see that he is an artist and a screenwriter and it shows in this book. At the back of the book there are several drawings of what the mutant penguins look like but also the way the action is described paints a picture for the reader. As I was reading this I found myself envisioning the whole thing as a rated R summer blockbuster movie. For example towards the end there is a great battle scene between the humans and penguins complete with background music.  I found myself laughing because I kept thinking how awesome this would look on the big screen. Cold Cuts is a lot of fun, it has that perfect mix of horror and humor that I like to find in a book.