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Lair of the White Worm by Bram Stoker

Lair of the White Worm (original 1911; edition 2011)

by Bram Stoker

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3921327,329 (2.78)41
Title:Lair of the White Worm
Authors:Bram Stoker
Info:CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2011), Edition: 1, Paperback, 130 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Lair of the White Worm by Bram Stoker (Author) (1911)



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I can’t remember why I had this sitting around on my ereader (apart from it being public domain and therefore free). I think it might be because it was supposedly an influence in Stephen King’s short story “Jersualem’s Lot” in Night Shift, which I quite liked, but since then I’ve read Stoker’s Dracula and really didn’t like it. Compared to The Lair of the White Worm, though, Dracula is a beautiful masterpiece. This is a really, really, really bad book. Even amongst Gothic scholars, Stoker’s die-hard fans and general lovers of old-timey English horror literature, The Lair of the White Worm is a rambling and nonsensical novel.

The plot, such as it is, involves young colonial lad Adam Shaw returning to the motherland at the invitation of his great-uncle, who wishes to pass on his Staffordshire mansion to him. But it turns out one of their neighbours is an ancient and monstrous wyrm-like creature in human guise, so they take it upon themselves to destroy her. There are also weird psychic battles between unrelated characters, a horrifically racist caricature of an African voodoo priest, and a gigantic kite which controls birds or something? I gave up trying to follow the plot after about forty pages. Oh, and despite being set in 1860, the climax involves copious amounts of dynamite, which wasn’t invented until 1867.

It explained a lot when I found out The Lair of the White Worm was written after Stoker had a a number of strokes in the midst of tertiary syphilis, and he died not long after finishing it. Apparently the original version had forty chapters; I appear to have read the edited 1925 version which removed almost a hundred pages, and thank God for that. I can’t imagine the malarkey that would have gone on in those extra chapters. The Lair of the White Worm is an outright bad novel, and was only published because it was written by an extremely popular author and would have sold no matter what its pages contained.

(And what the hell’s going on with that cover? Why does the Worm have arms?) ( )
  edgeworth | Nov 19, 2014 |
Adam Salton travels from Australia to England to live with his uncle and eventually inherit the family estate. He becomes involved in the neighborhood intrigues when he meets Lady Arabella March and Edgar Caswell. Caswell has recently returned from abroad and has become obsessed with mesmerism. Lady Arabella is a strange tall white figure who wants to marry Caswell and will do anything to get him.

This novel suffers from being gothic. It's an alright story, but there is so much talking about the local legends and folklore and talking about what the hero will do next and just plain sitting around and talking.

Another problem with the writing is the author switches from one character's story to another with no real segue. I started the book thinking this was Adam's story then about a few chapters in it became Caswell's story and then it abruptly switched to Lady Arabella and then back to Adam.

I feel I should warn anyone who may be sensitive to racial prejudice. Caswell has an African servant who dabbles in voodoo and falls in love with Lady Arabella. He is treated rather poorly for daring to want to marry a rich white women and it referred to by the author and the characters by the n word. The use of the n word is disturbing to modern ears. You are forewarned.

If you like gothic literature there are better novels out there. I recommend this book to anyone who is a Bram Stoker fan and wants to read all of his novels. ( )
1 vote craso | Oct 18, 2014 |
As it turns out this verson was abridged by the original publisher. The Garden of Evil, the American edition from 1966 and its reprintings, appears to be unabridged, so I might look into acquiring that to see if it fulfills the promising story better.
  Frenzie | Feb 19, 2014 |
This was Stoker's final novel, but it isn't a patch on Dracula. While it does contain a few vivid and quite graphically horrific scenes, much of it is bland and reads woodenly. A disappointment. 3/5 ( )
  john257hopper | Jun 9, 2013 |
Effective horror story that is simply too talkative. Creepy and Atmospheric. ( )
  srboone | Apr 15, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stoker, BramAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gálvölgyi, JuditTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kalin, VictorCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kuczka, PéterAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my friend BERTHA NICOLL with affectionate esteem
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Adam Salton sauntered into the Empire Club, Sydney, and found awaiting him a letter from his grand-uncle. (Abridged)
When Adam Salton arrived at the Great Eastern Hotel, he found awaiting him a letter in the handwriting of his grand-uncle, Richard Salton, which he knew so well from the many kind letters which he had received from him in Western Australia. (Unabridged)
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There are two versions of The Lair of the White Worm. Most editions published after 1925 are heavily abridged and partially rewritten, with only 28 chapters instead of the original 40, and over 100 pages deleted.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0646418424, Paperback)

In a tale of ancient evil, Bram Stoker creates a world of lurking horrors and bizarre denizens: a demented mesmerist, hellbent on mentally crushing the girl he loves; a gigantic kite raised to rid the land of an unnatural infestation of birds, and which receives strange commands along its string; and all the while, the great white worm slithers below, seeking its next victim...

Bram Stoker, creator of Dracula, is one of the most enduring and masterful influences on the literature of terror.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:56 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

'Lair of the White Worm' is a camp horror tale from an acknowledged master of the genre. Originally published in 1911, and out-of-print for many years, this enticing tale comes to you from the pen of the man who brought Dracula to life.

(summary from another edition)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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