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“The wind outside nested in each tree, prowled the sidewalks in invisible treads like unseen cats.
Tom Skelton shivered. Anyone could see that the wind was a special wind this night, and the darkness took on a special feel because it was All Hallows’ Eve. Everything seemed cut from soft black velvet or gold or orange velvet. Smoke panted up out of a thousand chimneys like the plumes of funeral parades. From kitchen windows drifted two pumpkin smells: gourds being cut, pies being baked.” – Ray Bradbury, The Halloween Tree

halloween

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originally posted on my old blog: Gypsyscarlett: Writing the Victorian Gothic on Dec 13, 2010

Artists in all fields are inspired by each other.

One of the most famous examples of creativity enriching creativity involves, The Isle of the Dead.

Arnold Böcklin (Swiss Symbolist painter, 1827-1901)  painted five versions of a painting thus titled, between 1880 and 1886.   All renderings depict  a rowboat arriving at a seawall.  In the bow, stands a figure clad in white.

Böcklin would not elaborate on its meaning, only saying,  ” It is a dream picture: it must produce such a stillness that one would be awed by a knock on the door.”

Many have interpretated the white-clad figure as Charon, leading human souls into the Greek underworld.

File:Isola dei Morti IV (Bocklin).jpg

In 1907,  upon viewing the painting, Sergei Rachmaninoff began composing a tone poem in its name.  The work, now considered a classic of late Russian Romanticism, was finished the following year.

In 1945,  Val Lewton produced a classic horror film with the same title.  The script, written by Ardel Wray, was inspired by the painting, and involves a group of quarrantined islanders who begin to die, one by one.

isle of the dead

bohemian gothic swords

Being trapped in one’s mind.  Self-imposed isolation.  Unable to see what is in front of you.  Fear of the unknown. Unwillingness to face a situation or yourself.

from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot:  “Feeling trapped in a situation.   Being a willing victim- unwisely.”

“I  lock my door upon myself And bar them out; but who shall wall  Self from myself, most loathed of all?” – Christina Rossetti

bohemian gothic 8 pentacles

Eight of Pentacles: apprenticeship, labor, concentration, diligence, determination to make something work, learning, gaining experience

from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot: “Practice makes perfect.  Detailed excellent work.  A willingness to stick to something in order gradually to perfect it.”

“Life is not easy for any of us.  But what of that?  We must have perserverance and above all confidence in ourselves.  We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.”- Marie Curie
bohemian gothic 8 cups
Eight of Cups:  turning away from one’s past.  Escaping into solitude.  Sadness.  Regrets.  Elegiacal.   Unsatisfaction with one’s acheivements.  Beginnings of a spiritual journey.  Awakenings
from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot:  “Taking the next necessary step in life.  Moving on.  You need to do it, but it’s a sad moment.”
Caspar David Friedrich: Frau in der Morgensonne G45

Caspar David Friedrich: Frau in der Morgensonne G45

bohemian gothic 8 wands

Eight of Wands:

Swift changes.  Action.   Removal of obstacles.  Moving forward.   Fiery energy.   Seeing things happen at a quicker pace

from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot:  “Everything happening at once- threats and opportunities.  Events moving swiftly toward a conclusion.”

Edvard-Munch--fine-art-692302_1024_768  Edvard Munch’s The Scream

Not horror, but a dark fairytale retelling I wrote a bit ago on a lark…

Sleeping Beauty of the Witching Hour

Written under my pen name: Tasha Harlow

A Retelling of Giambattista Basile’s “The Sun, Moon and Talia” from the Pentamerone– 1634

sleeping_beauty by Victor Gabriel Gilbert

The now dusty chateau was once filled every Friday with hundreds of

masked dancers.  It was indeed at one of these balls that the host met his future

bride.

This Lord and Lady imagined for themselves a child, and after many fruitless

summers, conceived a daughter whom they named Evara.

She came out screeching at the first blush of three- nature’s most enchanted hour.    Her hair and smile dusted with gold, she filled their days with starlight.

However, they found their joy short-lived when wise men cast her horoscope.  “She will one day prick her finger on a splinter of flax, and henceforth be of the dead.”

Thereafter, no such seed was allowed into the castle, and the Lord and Lady prayed their daughter safe.   Toward this endeavor, never was she permitted to leave the grounds; and this walled dwelling became a world.

Seasons passed without rebuke or cause for sorrow.   The portent, though, remained in the air, and the child obeyed her parent’s rules with a child’s need to please.   Daytides passed with marionettes and toy soldiers.  Yet the age always comes when make-believe with dolls is cast aside for dreams of a more cardinal rapture.

Evara- whose hair and snow-white complexion fooled people into thinking her thoughts were just as pure- now passed many hours gazing into looking glasses and out of windows.   Her flesh somehow longingly remembering the touch it had not yet known.  Her heart, beating with a devil’s trill.

One day her lover would come.  Thundering he would ride in, bringing with him stories from beyond the gate.   His callused hands as strong as that of any knight.   His kisses, as inviting as the witching hour.

So it was written in the pages of her books.  So would it be in the pages of her

life.

She kept these fantasies hushed so they should belong to her alone.  For from

early youth she’d surmised that no one can steal the dreams you never share.

Rather than grow sulky or morose at her imprisonment, she revelled in these unspent desires that clung to her like the bougainvillea of the castle walls.

So it came to be that shortly after her sixteenth birthday, she was dancing about the great passages when she came upon the door which opened up to a long, narrow staircase leading up to the garret.  Never having before dared to climb these forbidden  steps- today she affirmed she was a woman and must free herself from the bonds of parental love.

As she ascended, oft heard warnings returned, clanging like the church bells from afar.  Never go unchaperoned into the attics or catacombs.  You could fall.  You could become lost.  You could prick your finger.

But with every prideful step, she brushed aside these auguries as she would any flea.

At last she came to the landing and beyond the door she discovered an elderly maid sitting at a spindle.

“What are you doing?”

“I am spinning flax into linen, my Lady.”

Only a few years ago at these words Evara’s body would have gone lax with terror.  Now, instead of slumping, her shoulders straightened.  Her eyes kindled with the desire to test fate.  And before the servant could stop her or even realize what she meant to do, she reached forward and grazed the unspun fiber.

She sucked in her breath and withdrew.

“Oh.” The servant cupped her hands around her mouth as Evara stared at the blood dripping off her forefinger.

The elan vital froze in her veins.  Her lips paled to ceruse.

She fell.

The servant, who’d only been disobeying orders in hopes of making pretty dresses for her granddaughters, let out one strangled sob before fleeing.

Upon finding poor-fated Evara, the grieving parents dressed her in silk and lace.

“My daughter.  My daughter,” the Lady cried while placing the girl onto her velvet-draped bed.   “Never shall you be buried with vermin.”

“ Come.” The Lord, choking back his own tears, took his wife’s arm, and they

departed.

Evara  slept.

#

It was difficult to breathe.

The second thing she became aware of was an unbearable weight pressing

upon her body.

A pain she never could have dreamt.

Her eyes popped open.

The man- the unbearable weight- shifted just enough for her to draw in much needed air.

“Mother.” The first remembered word slipped out in a hoarse whisper.

“They said you were dead, but as soon as my eyes fell upon your face, I knew you’d only been entranced.”  He leaned forward to kiss her.

She screamed.

#

At last when he was gone, she gathered herself together and went running down the cobwebbed halls.   Where were Mother and Father?  Wherever had all the help gone?  Her calls were greeted with an unrelenting silence.  She ran room to room, now occupied by spiders composing their traps.

Her flight brought her outside to the inner courtyard.  There she burst into tears and wept till her heart became bone-dry.

Birch and elder reached into the sky, their branches gnarled and interlocked.  The bougainvillea coiled with poisonous ivy to mask the gates and walls.  There was no longer even an opening leading to that mysterious other world.

A hundred years might have passed.

Too weary to attempt the climbing vines, she surrendered to the idea of existing alone.   Enough wood was chopped to endure many years if she lit a fire only in one chamber.  There was no fear of going hungry.   The entire staff must have fled in a hurry, for the castle held enough food to last her beyond silvered hair.

Her dreams of love vanquished, her desires churned once again.  It was her mind she cultivated as carefully as she tended the flora.

In the richly paneled library, she poured through the thousands of books, discovering the different personalities within.  Every book had its own time, its own season.  There were the books to relish in the sunlit garden.  And those to be enjoyed while curled by the hearth.  Elegiac tales to fit the autumnal sadness.  Dark velvet prose for winter.  Those with twisting, ornately-inked lines to unravel during those long nights. The light, airy stories of spring- blooming with wistful hope.  The romances of summer, which she now perused with detached amusement.

And there were the thick, dusty tomes- mysterious and abstruse.

She read.

And she learned.

Her stomach grew.

#

They were born in pools of blood.   She bit off their cords.

She named them Raphael and Anabentine.

#

 

Overnight, seeds sprung into marigold.

She sang lullabies to her children.

The vines grew ever higher, furious in their design.

After sunset, her favorite jackdaw would often flitter through the window.   He would dart about, picking up the shiny trinkets she’d left out for his amusement.  Then, from time to time, he would perch on her shoulder to see what kept her so engrossed.

A passionate librarian and restless student, she sat clothed in robes of black and silver.  Tome after tome searched for their hidden keys.

Shrouded night by night, she learnt of the stars and of the prevailing moontides.

She heard voices in the wind and understood.

#

 It was in the embers of August that he returned with men bearing swords that

slew her beloved vines.  In he came through the revealed gate, a pack of hunting

dogs at his side.

 The prince- for that was his title- kissed her hello as though he’d been invited,

and picked a room for his own.  “For this shall now be my special retreat.”

 As he and his attendants infiltrated her home, she soothed her babies with

aphotic promises.  She planted wisteria around the castle proper.

Three days into his stay he came upon her as she sat by the fountain.

“Ah, there you are, my dear.”

She slid her book onto the ground and kicked it aside.

“Good morning, your Highness.”

  “Now, how many times must I tell you that there is no need for you to use such  formality?” He smiled softly.  “You are angry.  As is your right.  How lonely you must have been.  But let me tell you what transpired.   On that day, I was hunting in these forests when my falcon flew from me.”

Without lifting her head, she cast a sideways glance.

“I raised my eyes to follow his flight and my gaze fell upon these towers.  Naturally, I asked who lived there and was warned of a young Lady who died tragically and now haunted its premises.”  He remained standing, while bending one knee on the bench. “According to tales, no one was ever able to make it into this  earth.  The vines themselves were said to come alive and strangle any trespasser. “

He paused to drape an arm over his bent thigh.  “I knew I must see you for myself- what an adventure that should be.  I climbed the creeping plants into the yard.  Room by room I searched.  And then, in that great gold room, I found not a ghost, but you.  I never should have left afterwards.”

She bowed her head further.

  “To think you have cared for them all alone.  Yes, you have every right to your anger.”

“I thought you would never return.”  She twisted the pearl bracelet around her wrist.

“Tis true that I left here and returned to the businesses of my own city.  But the memories of your sweet cries oft invaded my mind.   I never should have left you.   And now that I am here and see what I begot, I know you must never leave my side again.”

“But your wife.  The Princess Grisel.”

 “Has brought nothing to my home.   There is a cottage by the sea in which I shall send her.  And you shall take her place upon the throne.”

“I don’t think I am worthy of such an honor.”

  “How could you ever think such a thought?  Look at them.” He smiled down at the two enjoying their nap under the bushes where thorns of brier and thistle sage interlaced.  “The most lovely of all my gifts.”

Evara shivered as he lifted her chin.  His hands, so horribly clean and smooth.

Hideous with their perfectly trimmed nails.

  “Don’t worry, my love.”  Deep within his overcast eyes- a hunger

gleamed.  “Soon, I shall be rid of the hag, and you and I will be together as we

should with our Sun and Moon.”

She  went frigid as a thousand Decembers.

  He kissed her immobile lips, before merrily heading off to join his friends for their daily hunt.

    Her children continued to sleep peacefully.

      She plucked a rose from the nearest bush.

        The thorn cut into her finger.

         She did not bleed.

#

She caressed her bird’s tender plumage as he perched on her finger.

Knock.  Knock.

“Go now,” she whispered and he took off, flapping his jerky wings.

Her chamber door opened before she announced for the prince to come in.  Not that she’d expected him to wait.  He swept in, his chest protruded, his doublet unbuttoned.  After taking her hand to his mouth and making a false pretense of asking after her day, he came about announcing the matter at hand:

Princess Grisel.

“Reports from home indicate that she has heard rumors of you.”

Evara raised her chin.

In the distance her bird let out a metallic kak-kak.

 “I will depart in the morning so as to allay the situation.” He put both hands on her shoulders.  “I will not allow her to cause you any concern.”

“Thank you.” Evara reached out and stroked his cheek.

#

“By my word, this is delicious.”  The prince shoved another piece of meat pie into his mouth. “Will the cook be serving this tonight?”

Grisel ran her finges along the edges of her fork.  “No.  He has other plans for dinner.”

“I was thinking, my dear, that before autumn sets in that you might enjoy a visit to the-“  He started to cough.  His spoon clang onto the floor.

“How does your poison taste?”  His wife’s lips, usually puckered as though

sucking on sour lemons, now twisted with amusement at their corners.

“You.”  He toppled out of the chair onto the floor.  “How?”

“I have friends in the most unlikely places.”  She loomed over him, her hands against her ample hips.

“My-“ His body writhed and he let out one last groan.

#

Princess Grisel sauntered into the kitchen, her long red hair flowing down her

back.  The cook was alone at his stove.  His workers currently tending to other

matters.

“Thank you, Henri.”

“It’s a simple recipe.”

She touched his arm.  “Good.  For I hope you shall not be too tired this night.”

He stirred the thick stew.

He smiled.

#

“You will kindly tell our guests that I have a headache and shall have to excuse myself from the night’s festivities.”  She rubbed her temple.

“Yes, your highness.” The maid curtsied.  “Will you be wishing to have anything brought up?”

“I don’t believe so, but shall ring if there is need.”

And so Grisel retired to her chamber while the prince’s friends sat down to dine.

#

Evara unfolded the note which her bird had returned with.

“It is done.  Never shall the prince be found.   As for you, I shall make sure the tales spin only wilder.   No one shall dare approach the enchanted castle.  But if you ever have need of anything, you know how to send word to me.”

#

“Hush my children.” Evara sat by the side of her children.

“Tell it again.  Tell it again!” Raphael insisted as Anabentine smiled in agreement from her own bed.

“Of course.” She kissed both their foreheads.  As she settled back into her chair, the back of her neck prickled.   She closed her eyes for a moment.  Yes, the ivy and bougainvillea were uncoiling, alert, ready…

Another one.   How many in these past four years?   Dear Grisel had underestimated the curiosity and pure stupidity of mortals.

Ah well.

   She pressed her hands together.  Do your thing, my lovelies.

     “Mommy?” Raphael fidgeted.

“Shh…listen to this tale of a wicked prince.  Once upon a time ago…”

Kak-Kak.        

The jackdaw flew in and perched on her shoulder to listen to this story again.  The children’s favorite as it always soothed them to sleep.

#

Outside, a fool approached.   The light of his lantern pale in comparison to that of the full moon.  Fretful nights filled with dreams that would not disperse in the morn, had led him to embark on this journey.

With each step, his heartbeat increased.

Ever nearer, he crept toward the castle.

He’d fought his way through the thicket of hedges- those which according to lore had entrapped many men to their lamentable deaths.

His own face and hands bled from the thousands of thorns.

Still he pressed on.  Only sometimes glancing back when the moon cast deceptive shadows.

One foot landed in a small hole.  Set off balance, his body lurched and he fell  forward onto the grass and dirt.   Despite hitting his head, he was aware of the vines springing from below the earth and wrapping their tendrils around his ankle.  He remained conscious as they coiled around and around, tighter and tighter, up his legs and thighs.  Squeezing and constraining his chest.  Teasing his throat like a pair of strangling hands.

-The end

On February 25th, I did a reading for someone who was on the brink of separating from their partner. The couple have a very young child, and while this child had not been told of the situation due to their age, they sensed something was wrong and had begun suffering fits. Therefore, the querent asked if the child was, at some level, blaming themself for the tension in the house.

To find out I made a specific spread. The results for this querent were not positive ones, but they were truthful and necessary. In case it may be of help to others in a similar situation, here are the questions I asked:

1. How you see yourself:

2. How child sees themself:

3. How you see child:

4. How child sees you:

5: How child sees partner:

6. How child sees self in relation to the problems at home:

7. How you can help child deal with the situation as best as possible:

Bohemian gothic 7 of Pentacles

Bohemian Gothic Tarot 7 of Pentacles

grand guignol

Sitting at a parlor table, Vanessa tells Sir Malcolm that the images she has recently seen took place in the theater in which she watched a play.  “I believe Mina is trying to get out.”

To this, Sir Malcolm responds he hopes this time they might be lucky.

“And if we are not?”

Sir Malcolm promises to try to save Mina- if not, he will end her suffering.

Understandably, Vanessa doesn’t seem convinced that he will be able to kill his own daughter.

“And will that bring you peace?”

“Don’t be foolish.  It doesn’t suit you.”   He rises, and before leaving the room, informs her to call in the others.

So thus begins the season finale of Penny Dreadful

It is only fitting the last episode should culminate at the Grand Guignol- that famous theater of bloody delights.  Right, the Victorians were sooo prudish.  Can we finally dispose of that myth once and for all?

#

Mr. Gray comes by to see Miss Ives.  As he notices her tarot cards, he asks if she might tell his future.

“I’m not sure if you have one.”

“Everyone has a future.”

“No not everyone.” She studies him carefully.  “Some only have a past.”

#

Chandler holds Brona’s hand as he prays for her.  When he leaves her home, he is followed by two men.  One of whom is told to be patient, to enjoy the hunt…

#

Sir Malcolm comes across Madam Kali while shopping.  She who seems very interested in how Vanessa is doing… Now, of course, this might be natural curiosity.  After all, it’s not every day you see a woman become possessed and spew out obscenities at a dinner party…yet I’d wager a bet there is more to just that behind her questioning.  And when Sir Malcolm says he hopes to see her again, she replies that she is sure that they will.

Innocent flirting, or is there something cryptic behind those words?

#

Meanwhile, Caliban is watching his favorite actress practice a scene with her boyfriend.  When he has trouble with the props, Simon threatens not work there anymore as long as the monster is employed.  While his anger at being left hanging from the rafters is understandable, his insults border on the abusive, and when Maude returns to apologize for the oaf’s behavior- and kisses Caliban’s forehead- I was definitely wondering if that accident might plant a murderous seed inside of him.

caliban and maude

However, the moment he walked into Maude’s dressing room, I correctly began to fear for her life.

“You shouldn’t be in here.”

“Simon does.”

Oh, so that gives you the right?  Uh huh…

It’s pretty obvious what is about to ensue.  And yup, within the next few moments, Caliban’s near sexual assualt becomes almost a murder when he nearly chokes her to death.   Thankfully, he possesses at least a tiny morsel of morality- and stomps away.

#

Vanessa meets Dorian Gray at their botanical garden where she confesses there is a connection between them but it is too dangerous.  “That very intimacy released something unhealthy in me.  Something I can not allow.”  Gray, thinking she is merely afraid of her sexual desires tries to ease her fears, but she tells him goodbye.  As she walks away, he wipes a tear, which he looks at in wonder.

Vanessa and Gray

#

Caliban seeks refuge with Dr. Frankenstein who understandably refuses to forgive him for the murder of Van Helsing.  In a rare moment of self-reflection, Caliban notes his monstrosity has shifted from without to within.  “This shattered image only reflects the abomination that is my heart…I would rather be the corpse I was, than the man I am.”  He shuts his eyes, telling his father to pull the trigger which he cannot.

chandler and his hunters

Will the doctor come to rue this decision?

Before we can muse further upon this, Chandler arrives to say he needs his help and brings him to the dying Brona. As she admits her fears, the Doctor tries to reassure her that she’s only going to walk through a different door.  That there is a place between heaven and earth, a place of salvation but if she wants to go there, there is a price.  And as she stares at him in confusion, he lifts a pillow and smothers her breath.

“I’m sorry,” he says when Chandler returns to the room.  “It is over.”  And as Chandler breaks into sobs, he promises to take care of the body.

#

Poor Chandler doesn’t have much time to mourn before his hunters meet up with him at a tavern, announcing that his father misses him.

#

While Chandler escapes from their clutches, he has no time to rest as he meets with Sir Malcolm, Sambene, and Vanessa.  Together, the group head to the theater.

Inside they are attacked by more of those blonde vampiresses who vanish when a male vamp is killed by Sir Malcolm.

“Vanessa.”

They turn as Mina comes out from hiding.

“Mina.”

The best friends embrace, but the joyous moment is short-lived.  Mina’s eyes darken and she twists Vanessa around.  “You’ve brought her to me.  Good job, father.”

When Chandler makes a move, she warns him not to try anything.  “You don’t have a role in this play.”

Sir Malcolm begs his daughter to remember who she is, but she insists this is who she was meant to be.  “You will understand when you join the Master.  When you all join him.  And now that he has his bride, they will sire generations.”

In a moment which shocks Vanessa, Sir Malcolm chooses her, after all.  Shooting Mina dead, he announces he already has a daughter.

Mina shot

Meanwhile, father Frankenstein brings Brona’s corpse to Caliban…

While Chandler unleashes his hidden self…

And Vanessa enters a church, seeking an exorcism.

final thoughts:

Much played out as I expected, which is fine. Just entertain me. I don’t need twists for the sake of twists. Surprises are fun, but let them be organic, not put into a script just to say, “gotya.”

And entertain, Penny Dreadful did.

Was this season all it could be? No, as mentioned, at times it did feel a bit too restrained, a bit too afraid to put that heart on the sleeve. But the acting, scripts, direction, and art direction was all top-notch and the show definitely captured the feeling of a Victorian Gothic.

– am disappointed to see Mina killed off so quickly. Definitely wanted to see more of her storyline. Seems a waste to end it so abruptly. But I suppose there’s always a chance she could be brought back, and the Master is still out there…

Penny-Dreadful-header2

Netflix has come to Germany, and with it a show I’ve been eager to dive into.

How could i not be excited to watch a show whose name is adopted from the lurid pulp fiction serials so popular amongst the sensation-hungry Victorians?

Gothic Horror, Victoriana, silks and lace….I’m there!

And a grimly lit macabre opening propels us right into this world.

Next day, American gunslinger Ethan Chandler, is offered a job by the mysterious Vanessa Ives.  “Do you believe there is a Demimonde, Mr. Chandler?  A half world between what we know and what we fear?” she asks him.

Episode 101

It turns out that she (a devoutly religious tarot reading woman who might not be fully human) and her partner, Sir Malcom Murray, an African Explorer need help in finding his missing daughter, Mina. Through a funereal opium house they search, coming not upon his daughter, but monsters stemming from the darkest of nightmares.

While it is unclear how long Ives and Murray have been aware of these creatures haunting London, it is evident they definitely know more people are needed in the fight against them. Thus, soon into their fold, the remarkably bold and innovative, Victor Frankenstein, is invited.

The pilot episode is superbly shot, as darly delicous as any Victorian Gothic should be. Boasting divine set designs and costumes, as well as a top-notch cast, it is a welcome beginning.

Yet while all the main ingredients were present, a certain soul or heart was missing. In short, the opener was like a sundae missing the whipped cream and cherry on top. So while I can’t bestow the highest lavish praise upon it, I look forward to what the show can become.

Episode 101

After hearing so many accolades about the French, international Emmy winning supernatural drama, The Returned (Les Revenants) I was naturally psyched to see it listed on Watchever (Germany’s version of Netflix). Available to watch in either the original French, or dubbed in German, I picked the latter since I know perhaps two words of French. To say I wasn’t disappointed, is an understatement. In three nights, I gobbled up all 8 episodes of the first season. It would have actually been one marathon evening if I wasn’t inclined to liking sleep.

Set in a small French town somewhere, the show poses the question, “What would it truly be like if our loved ones returned from the dead?” Most anyone who has lost someone dear, wishes for such a thing to come true. That soap opera moment of, “it wasn’t really me who was buried ten years ago.” “It was only a dream…” But what really would be the consequences? Should the dead be able to return once they’ve crossed over to the otherside?

The series begins with fifteen year-old Camille walking home. She’s starving, and has a long trek til she finally reaches her house. Helping herself to some food, she has no idea why her mother stops in her tracks upon seeing her. Why her mother follows her upstairs, barely able to speak, while Camille readies her bath. Why does her father look so disturbed when he arrives home from work? And when did he start smoking? It is only later when she knocks on her twin sister’s door that in one horrifying moment she realizes the truth. Her sister, Lena, now looks a lot older. They both release screams from the very depths of their beings. Lena at the sight of seeing her dead sister, and Camille at realizng four years have passed.

the returned- camille and lena

After the initial shock wears off, her parents (Claire and Jerome) set aside any reservations and embrace the miracle of her return. Yet they cannot let the outside world know. Forced to hide inside the house, a house filled with pictures of Lena growing up, Camille grows more and more angry at the years she has lost. All the things that she and Lena were supposed to experience together. Now her sister is a young womman, while she is really still a kid.

While Camille struggles to find a new place for herself in this world, the show turns to depict how the other les Revenants are faring.

A motely crew, there seems to be no rhyme or reason on who has been given a second chance at life.

Amongst others, the main characters include:

Adele, now happily married to Thomas, must deal with the return of Simon, who died on their wedding day. Never having had any closure, it is little wonder that Adele is drawn back to the first man she was going to marry, and the father of her child. Simon must deal with the fact that she later wed another, and that he missed out on watching his daughter grow into adolesence. Thomas, well-aware of his wife’s affair, has to deal with literally competing with a ghost from the past, while fearing losing the girl he has raised and loved as his own.

LES REVENANTS

There is Toni, the bar owner who buried his brother alive several years ago upon discovering he was the serial killer attacking the towns women. Now Serge has returned. Unable to bring himself to kill his brother again, Toni lives in fear that the murders will begin anew…

A former victim of Serge, Julie (perhaps the soul of the show) who survived the attack with deep scars all over her stomach and an even more wounded psyche, lives a mostly isolated existance until a mysterious little boy enters her life. A boy who died 35 years ago and claims she is his “fairy protector”. A boy who is able to drive people into committing suicide by showing them visions of their sins…

returned- julie and victor

While the living try to hide the fact that their dead ones have returned, secrets can never be kept in tiny, remote towns. It is not long after the Returned find out about each other, that the other townsfolks do as well. While some consider it a miracle that confirms their faith in the afterlife, others are filled with fear and resentment. Why are you able to hug your child again, and not me? Why were you so blessed? And as more and more strange incidents occur, it is not long before The Returned are blamed. They’re not supposed to be here, so surely they must be guilty. As they become the scapegoats, the new witches of an unofficial Inquisition, their loved ones must try to protect them from the others who are more than willing to sacrifice them to a mysterious horde forming outside.

 

* The Returned can be viewed in the US and elsewhere on Netflix.  (original French language with English subs)

*not to be confused with the US show, Resurrection, which has a similar premise but is unrelated to the French series)

the returned- the horde

“How is it that two of the sweetest women I know, write horror?” A great friend sputtered not so long ago to me.
“And we’re both vegetarians, to boot!” I joked back.

Though my friend was teasing (a writer, herself, she’s well-aware of such fallacies), the stereotypes of writers of certain genres certainly does exist amongst some, perhaps even much, of the general population. No doubt that many who read my stories would envision a female- Carmilla-pale, sheathed in black, dark and broody by nature.

So what did drive me towards horror? Is it the sign of Scorpio placed in the North Node of my chart? The North Node indicating a soul’s purpose in this incarnation? It is said of such people that we are the “truth tellers”. We see through the superficialities of societal masks, and dive deep into the murkiest swamps to discover the hidden treasures beneath. We hear the beauty in Discordia. With the ability to see the wounded child behind the adult’s coldened eyes, it might be little wonder that those with such a placement in our charts are often drawn to becoming healers in the psychiatric fields.

Is it Lilith placed in the fifth house of my chart? Lilith, the first woman, who positioned there, inspires one to create authentically, without self-censorship.

For horror writers must often venture into those uncultivated forests of the mind, those same wilding paths that most avoid. Yet, to explore darkness, to have a love of the fallen and forbidden, does not equate to possessing a gloomy and depressed psyche. Rather, it is the ability and desire to understand, even if not necessarily condoning certain actions.

It is ability to find beauty in the most unexpected of ruins.

While a lot of horror stories deal with twisted, even disturbing subjects, they often are the least cynical or nihilistic. More often than not, good triumphs over evil. And even those with tragic endings often also leave glimmers of hope and of newfound understandings. Who did not pity Frankenstein’s monster- despised and abused from birth- until he allowed himself to be swept away by those waves?

Robert McCammon said in an interview, “There are scenes in all of my books which are over the top in terms of violence, of gore. But that is not the core and crux of the work. The core of the book will always be the human element. I want to tell a human story about a person’s journey through a forbidding or threatening world.”

My current soundtrack:

Goblin’s Suspiria (from Dario Argento’s film of the same name)

Ennio Morricone’s Una lucertola con la pelle di donna (American film title: A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin by Lucio Fulci)

Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire

Mussorgsky’s Night On The Bare Mountain

Goblin’s Deep Red from Argento’s Profondo Rosso:

Keith Emerson’s Inferno (from Argento film of same name)

Hexentanz’s Mark of the Witch

Hexentanz’s Devil’s Mass

What music are you listening to during your creative endeavors?