I’d like to start this continuation of the Dark Shadows discussion from the old board with a look at some of the new and upcoming Dark Shadows audio stories from Big Finish Productions. There aren’t nearly as many Dark Shadows audio adventures as there are Doctor Who ones, but the Doctor Who series has been around longer. The Dark Shadows audios are a mixed bag. The first release was a full-cast sequel titled “Return to Collinwood”. Later they began to release a series of interconnected sequential stories grouped in short “seasons”. More recently they’ve been going back to the timeline of the original television show and telling interstitial one-shots. As the Dark Shadows series seems to be catching on, Big Finish seems to be ramping up their production schedule. “Curse of the Pharaoh” was released in September, and the next four are set for monthly release beginning in January at a special subscription rate.

CURSE OF THE PHARAOH:

“Curse of the Pharaoh” stars Nancy Barrett (reprising her role as Carolyn Stoddard) and Marie Wallace (perhaps best known as “Eve” on the TV show) in a new role, famed Egyptologist Dr. Gretchen Warwick. The story doesn’t specify, but I assume it takes place shortly after the end of the series original TV series, circa 1970 or so. Both actresses are kind of rusty and sound as old as they are, not as young as they (Caroline, anyway) are supposed to be. Barrett was always a better actress than Wallace, and that remains true. Wallace’s shortcomings are spotlighted in this “dramatic reading” in which she plays other bit parts, most of the male (Bob the bartender at The Blue Whale, Eliot Stokes on the telephone, Carolyn’s father in flashback), which she performs in a gruff kind of storybook voice as if reading aloud to a child. The story itself is a sequel to the unpopular “Leviathan” television storyline. If you’ve never heard a Dark Shadows audio and thinking of trying one out, there are better ones to start with than this.

KEY: OB = Old Board; UR = Un-Reviewed

Return to Collinwood - 169

SEASON ONE:
S1.1 The House of Despair - 1
S1.2 The Book of Temptation - OB
S1.3 The Christmas Presence - OB
S1.4 The Rage Beneath - 7

SEASON TWO: Kingdom of the Dead - 7

DRAMATIC READINGS:

1. Angelique’s Descent-Pt. 1 - OB
2. Angelique’s Descent-Pt. 2 - OB
3. Clothes of Sand - OB
4. The Ghost Walker - OB
5. The Skin Walkers - OB
6. The Path of Fate - OB
7. The Wicked & the Dead - OB
8. Echoes of Insanity - OB
9. Curse of the Pharaoh - 1
10. Final Judgment - 1
11. Blood Dance - 1
12. The Night Whispers - 1
13. London’s Burning - 2
14. The Doll House - 30
15. The Blind Painter - 87
16. The Death Mask - 88
17. The Creeping Fog - 89
18. The Carrion Queen - 89
19. The Poisoned Soul - 96
20. The Lost Girl - 96
21. The Crimson Pearl - 114
22. The Voodoo Amulet - 129
23. The House by the Sea - 170
24. Dress Me in Dark Dreams - 154
25. The Eternal Actress - 162
26. The Fall of House Trask - 163
27. Operation: Victor - 166
28. Speak No Evil - 166
29. The Last Stop - 166
30. Dreaming of the Water - 167
31. The Haunted Refrain - 167
32. A Collinwood Christmas - 167
33. The Phantom Bride - 167
34. Beneath the Veil - 167
35. The Enemy Within - 167
36. The Lucifer Gambit - 167
37. The Flip Side - 167
38. Beyond the Grave - 168
39. Curtain Call - 168
40. The Harvest of Souls - 170
41. The Happier Dead - 168
42. The Carriage Damned - 168
43. The Devil Cat - 168
44. The Darkest Shadow - 173

SEASON THREE: Bloodlust - 170-172, 181

45. Panic - 173
46. The Curse of Shurafa - 173
47. In the Twinkling of an Eye - 173
48. Deliver Us from Evil - 173
49. Tainted Love - 173
50. ...And Red All Over - 175

Echoes of the Past - 176

Blood & Fire - 176

Haunting Memories - 177

Phantom Melodies - 178

Dreams of Long Ago - 178

THE TONY & CASSANDRA MYSTERIES:
The Mystery at Crucifix Heights - 179
The Mystery of La Danse Macabre - 179
The Mystery of Flight 493 - 180
The Mystery of Karmina Sonata - 180

SHADOWS OF THE NIGHT:
Trio - 180
Honeymoon from Hell - 180
Retreat -180
1:53 AM - 180

MAGGIE & QUENTIN - THE LOVERS' REFRAIN:
The Girl Beneath the Water - 180
The Sand That Speaks HIs Name - 180
The Hollow Winds That Beckon
The Paper to the Flame
  

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BARNABAS COLLINS - #6 in a series
“Victoria happens across a mention of Barnabas Collins in an old family journal, prompting her to ask Elizabeth what she knows about her ancestor. This provides a setting for a flashback to the early 1900s when Elizabeth's grandmother, Margaret was the matron of Collinwood and was first visited by the mysterious cousin from England tainted with a vampire curse.”

COMMENTARY: Victoria Winters appears in the story’s brief framing sequences, but other than that, #5 was the last to feature her as a character. The framing sequence takes place in “February,” so I’m choosing to make that February 1968, before, the events of #5. (The first edition was published in November 1968.) In it, Victoria discovers the journal of Jonas Collins, Elizabeth’s grandfather, and mentions Barnabas Collins. Vicki asks Elizabeth about him, which triggers the flashback. The framing sequence offers a remarkable bit of foreshadowing: Greta Collins died in May 1911 on the same night Barnabas Collins’ adapted daughter left Collinwood to be married and was never seen again.

The year is 1902. Barnabas Collins arrives and introduces himself as a cousin from England, the great-great grandson of the original Barnabas Collins. It is important to note that in this version, unlike on TV, Barnabas was never chained in his coffin. When it came to that point in the story, his father Joshua made a crypt for him in the cellar of Collinwood. Apparently, Barnabas actually does divide his time between Collinwood and England. We learn that Barnabas was also at Collinwood in the 1840s.

Other characters include…

Granny Entwhistle – Housekeeper, nearly 90 years old. She was at Collinwood 50 years ago the last time Barnabas came for a visit.

Ada & Patience Griffin – Twin teenage maids

Luke Sinnot – Mildly retarded Collinwood handyman

Hare – Barnabas’ deaf and dumb servant

Greta Collins – Crippled teenage daughter of Jonas and Margaret; falls in love with Barnabas; resembles Josette DuPres

Clare Blandish – Widow who runs Collinwood orphanage.

Judith – One of Clare’s charges; also resembles Josette DuPres

As soon as Barnabas appears, he immediately begins feeding… on Greta, on Patience, on Clare. He attacks Margaret in the form of a bat, but Jonas drives him off. Investigating the strange occurrences, Margaret witnesses Barnabas rising from his coffin in the cellar of the Old House. Between the two of them, they come to an uneasy bargain. In exchange for Greta’s guaranteed safety, Margaret agrees to keep Barnabas’ secret.

Barnabas really has no interest in Greta, her being a cripple, and is genuinely surprised that Margaret is upset that he has been feeding on her. Nine year old Judith is another matter, though. Barnabas plans to adopt her and, eventually, marry her. He believe that her love will cure him of his curse. (What information he is basing that assumption on is unclear.) The agreement between Barnabas and Margaret puts Patience at greater risk. She rises from her bed every night in a trance to keep a rendezvous with Barnabas, who dresses her in a wedding dress and pretends she’s Josette. Margaret uses her influence with Clare to be named as Judith’s guardian. Although Barnabas would be the girl’s adopted father, she would live at Colinwood where Margaret would see to her upbringing whlle Barnabas is “busy” during the day with his “experiments.” Shortly after this, Granny Entwhistle “accidentally” falls down the stairs and breaks her neck.

Three years pass.

Barnabas’s control over Patience eventually fades as she declares her love for him and he rejects her. When she turns up dead, he transfers his attention to Clare. Margaret knows Barnabas killed Patience and suspects Hare will take the fall, but to Margaret’s shock, the police actually end up killing the innocent Luke for it. After a more few months, Clare is found dead as well. Several women of ill repute are found dead in and around Collinwood. Several more years pass in this manner. When Barnabas eventually makes his intentions known to Judith, she reacts as one might expect. Now a beautiful young woman of 18, she has met and fallen in love with a young artist, Jim Reeves, from Boston who is visiting Collinsport.

Barnabas begins to feed upon Judith and mesmerize her. Greta’s condition is extremely critical at this point. Jim discovers Barnabas’ secret, but Margaret pleads with him not to put a stake through his heart in the hope Barnabas can save Greta. Barnabas overhears Margaret plead for his life, and she convinces him to let Judith go to live her own life or his plans will lead to disaster for her. Too late Barnabas realizes it is actually Greta’s pure love which could have saved him. He rushes to her bedside one last time, but she is too far gone to rally. After she passes, Hare is found dead having fallen from Widows’ Hill in a drunken stupor, and Barnabas leaves Collinwood, never to be seen by Margaret again.

COLLINS FAMILY TREE:

Jonas Collins (1860-1937) – Elizabeth and roger’s grandfather

Margaret Collins (1865-1948) – Jonas’s wife

Arnold Collins – A pastor from Boston who visited Collinwood in 1846. In July of that year, he wrote in his journal that he had discovered several letters and journals written by Joshua Collins. By August he was dead and the journals and letters were never found.

CASTING SHADOWS: Whereas I usually let the author’s description inform my visualization of characters, I like to “cast” the characters in these books using (mostly) actors from the show (one exception being Boris Karloff as Professor Mark Veno from #4). Here are some of the actors I picture as characters from #6.

Margaret Collins: Virginia Vestoff (Samantha Collins on TV)

Greta Collins: Kathy Cody (Carrie Stokes/Hallie Stokes on TV)

Hare: Clancy Brown (from The Bride, specifically)

Judith: Cailey Fleming from The Walking Dead; not only does she coincidentally play “Judith” on TWD, but she could reasonably pass for a (very) young Kathryn Leigh Scott

If anyone is interested, Tubi has the original series available for free streaming. I access Tubi through a Roku stick.

A "Roku stick" sounds like something you'd go on a side quest in  a video game to obtain.

doc photo said:

If anyone is interested, Tubi has the original series available for free streaming. I access Tubi through a Roku stick.

NEW TV PLOTS:

I think that this paperback series I have been reviewing would make a fine basis for a new TV series. It may not be as flashy as the recent The Haunting of Hill House, though, so maybe there’s no market for it today, but I would watch it. The original Dark Shadows eventually fell into the rut of doing “adaptations” of famous plots, from Frankenstein to Dr. Jeckyll to the Shirley Jackson short story “The Lottery.” I have even heard it said that one of the reasons the show went off the air was that it ran out of things to adapt. I have always maintained they could have done original stories, but there was a series of 32 paperbacks just waiting to be adapted.

When I read these, it’s pretty easy to imagine the sets of the TV show, but the paperbacks had a bigger “budget” (so to speak) than the TV show, and I often find myself having to imagine other sets (such as the “captain’s walk” high atop the roof of Collinwood) never featured in the show. If I were to produce a continuation of Dark Shadows for television, I would re-created the main sets (such as the drawing room and the study) exactly as they were on television, but I would add many other, much larger, rooms adjacent to them, explaining that these rooms were closed off when Elizabeth Collins was matriarch.

Indeed, I quested to the bizarre land of Homedepotis to obtain the stick at cost of just 29.99 points.

The Baron said:

A "Roku stick" sounds like something you'd go on a side quest in  a video game to obtain.

doc photo said:

If anyone is interested, Tubi has the original series available for free streaming. I access Tubi through a Roku stick.

THE SECRET OF BARNABAS COLLINS - #7 in a series

“Barnabas recalls his past in a flashback to the story of Lady Clare Duncan who wanted to marry him and followed him to the United States, where tragedy and the shocking truth about Barnabas greeted her.”

COMMENTARY: This is the book fans must have been waiting for… or is it? Barnabas arrives at Collinwood in the present day, April 1968 specifically, but it’s another framing sequence. He tells Victoria that his “father” and “grandfather” visited before him and that he is there to research and write a book on the Collins family. He is quite interested in the ruins of the great house Stormcliff, which was destroyed by fire approximately 100 years ago. The story soon shifts to London in 1870.

He is courting Lady Clare Duncan, but is also having an affair with the actress Eileen O’Mara and Lady Clare’s maid, Belle, among others. Lady Clare’s father is trying to break up their romance and confronts Barnabas with his indiscretions in her presence. He admits to them and leaves. Not to be dissuaded, Lady Clare follows him to his apartment where she meets Eileen O’Mara face to face. After Eileen leaves, Clare hides and witnesses Barnabas get into his coffin. She learns of his plans to travel to France and follows him there. She engages her own maid Belle to accompany her as someone, perhaps, sympathetic to Barnabas’ cause.

She tracks him to the castle of Dr. Henri Fontaine, where Barnabas has come seeking a cure. Barnabas is not there but Fontaine tells her that he will soon return. She agrees to wait for him there, but Fontaine’s wife warns her that she is in great danger. Fontaine is actually another vampire, and Barnabas came there seeking shelter, not a cure. Lady Clare helps Fontaine’s wife drive a stake through his heart, then follows Barnabas to Liverpool, where he has boarded a ship to Boston.

There she books passage aboard the Morning Star. Enroute to Boston, she meets the medium Josef Paladino, who helps her defeat the spirit of Fontaine, which is haunting her. By the time she arrives in Collinsport, in August, she learns that the Collins family is away in New York City and that Barnabas has rented the mansion Stormcliff, also on the Collins estate.

Lady Clare learns that Barnabas has become involved with Julia Conrad, the unfaithful wife of Bill Conrad, the captain of the Belle Corliss. She confronts Mrs. Conrad and learns that she does not know Barnabas’ secret, nor does she have any intention of giving him up. Clare appeals to Captain Conrad’s first mate, Nathan Forbes. Nathan soon discovers Barnabas’ secret, and when Belle falls to her death from Widow’s Hill in a stupor, even Lady Clare turns against him. Forbes attempts to stake Barnabas, but ends up accidentally killing Barnabas’ servant, Ben, instead. Barnabas then sets fire to Stormcliff, covering up the evidence that Forbes killed Ben in the hope that Ben’s body will be mistaken for his own.

In the meantime, Barnabas plans to travel on Conrad’s ship to Barbados, seeking a cure for his affliction from a local witch doctor. Strange things happen aboard, causing the crew to dessert. It gets to the point where only Barnabas, Clare and Forbes are left aboard, and Forbes convinces Clare to abandon Barnabas as they are about a mile off the cost of Carolina at this point. She agrees, but as soon as they land a huge bat flies from under the tarp which they used to cover their provisions.

COLLINS FAMILY HISTORY: Peter Collins built Stormcliff in 1850 for his wife, but they didn’t live there for long until she broke her neck in a riding accident. After that, one of his brothers moved in, but his wife didn’t like it and didn’t stay. Finally, an uncle lived there until he died, but it has stood empty ever since.

CASTING SHADOWS: I cast Joel Crothers as Nathan Forbes, who played his ancestor on TV. Ben, of course, would be played by Thayer David.

TIMELINE: Books #5-7 took place in “late spring,” “February” and “April” respectively, but they read best (from a 20th century perspective) in the order they were released. Plus, the framing sequence of #6 foreshadows the framing sequence of #7, so I have had to fudge the timeline just a little.

In the overall timeline, I think the first paperback (which established that Collinwood was built in 1830 and that Roger and Elizabeth are third generation descendants of Jeremiah) was published prior to the 1795 storyline on TV. In this case, I’m going to allow the timeline of the TV show to overwrite that of the paperbacks. Furthermore, I am willing to allow Elizabeth’s description of Jeremiah as her “great grandfather” to be a kind of “generation shorthand.” Also, “1795” (or so) better jibes with the fact that, in 1902, Barnabas described the original as his “great great grandfather.” Finally, 1795 (or so) better fits with the description of Barnabas (from the back covers) as being a “175 year old vampire.”

THE DEMON OF BARNABAS COLLINS - #8 in a series

“Movie star Rita Glenn falls in love with Barnabas. She introduces him to a doctor who temporarily cures his vampire affliction. However he soon finds himself in battle with an evil vampire, fighting for his life as well as Rita's -- and forcing him back to his thirst for blood.”

COMMENTARY: The story begins in late June as Victoria and the family prepare to vacate Collinwood for a “long summer holiday in Vermont” as a movie is being shot on the estate.

CHARACTERS:

Brad Hilton: The director of the film.

Rita Glenn: The leading lady, 26 years old. Barnabas knows her from her stage days in London, five years earlier.

Blanche: Rita’s personal assistant,

Clifton Kerr: The stuck-up leading man.

Dr. Lee Moreno: Kerr’s manager and personal physician.

Joab: Barnabas’ ill-tempered deaf mute servant.

Other members of the cast and crew.

Rita Glenn discovers Barnabas’ secret. She thinks Dr. Moreno can cure him because he cured Clifton Kerr of a similar affliction. Moreno agrees, but requires Rita to support him regarding production changes he plans to demand from Brad Hilton. Moreno quickly deduces Barnabas’ actual affliction. The cure requires one injection every 48 hours for the rest of his life. The injections will allow Barnabas to age and die normally. The first shot is extremely painful, but later ones won’t be. The cost is $200.00 per injection, but by the next day Barnabas will be able to go outside in the sunlight.

Clifton Kerr, unsurprisingly, turns out to be a vampire as well, but he revels in it. Every month or so, he purposefully stops the treatment so he can feed. When Kerr suggests that he and Rita marry and Barnabas becomes aware of the situation, Barnabas and Rita put him to his final rest. Moreno is incensed. He refuses Barnabas further treatments unless Rita agrees to marry him, but he didn’t really think the consequences of this decision through. When the dust settles, Barnabas disappears to allow Rita the opportunity to find happiness with Brad.

In a sub-plot that goes nowhere, the scent of violets is associated with the ghost of Josette (which is odd, because on television it was jasmine). At first Rita associates it with Angelique, but Barnabas reveals it is Josette’s scent, which, under the circumstances, caused me to question whether he was lying to her for some reason. Ultimately it didn’t make much of a difference either way.

So, if Rita had married Dr. Moreno, she'd have been...

Ha! I didn't even think of that. It's fairly obvious she's roman a clef for someone (although I don't think it's Rita Moreno). Here career is described is some detail: "Rita's spot in Hollywood firmament was secure. she'd first come to attention in a supporting role in a New York stage play. this had gotten her a Hollywood contract and a major part in a picture that had won an Acadamy Award. From then on her career had continued upward at a dizzying pace. Now she had five years of major starring films behind her, two years on the London and New York stages, and a film contract that would go on until she was more than financially secure."

THE FOE OF BARNABAS COLLINS - #9 in a series

“A flashback to 1910 tells the story of Paula Collins Jennings and her husband, Christopher, a werewolf. As Paula s life is threatened, Barnabas comes to her aid but then must face the reincarnation of Angelique.”

COMMENTARY: The annual visit from local antique dealer Mr. Smallwood triggers a flashback to 1910.

CHARACTERS:

Chris Jennings: The possible bastard son of a servant girl and a Collins. His mother died soon after his birth and he was raised by his drunken fisherman father. Money was received from a lawyer in Bangor, enough to send him to college at Yale, where he did well. (Basically, he was given Victoria Winters’ intended-but-never-revealed back story.) He married wealthy orphan, but was widowed young when she was mauled by a “wild dog.”

Abel: Jennings’ lupine servant; a werewolf.

Peg: Abel’s weird sister; a witch.

Rachel Jennings: Chris’ first wife.

Joseph Sharon: Rachel’s godfather.

Paula Collins: Distant cousin of the Collins family, Jennings’ new wife.

Brian Glason: Paula’s boyfriend from before she met Barnabas and married Chris.

Lizzie Wells: Paula’s maid, Barnabas’ victim.

Davis: Banabas’ deaf mute servant.

Melissa Henry: Engaged by Chris supposedly as a as a housekeeper, actually Angelique in disguise.

Paula discovers Banabas’ secret early on and they become confidants. Chris is subject to violent moodswings and has a wide belt made of wolfskin which he uses to voluntarily become a werewolf. Abel Kills Joseph Sharon, and Barnabas sets a trap for Abel using Lizzie as bait and kills him. Chris takes a business trip to Boston and returns with a new housekeeper, Melissa Henry (actually Angelique). When Melissa attacks Paula in the middle of the night, the ghost f Josette intervenes in the form of a ball of blue light. Barnabas baits a trap for Chris by revealing the location of a secret cellar room within Cranshaw which he and Melissa/Angelique transform into a sacrificial altar. Chris kills Lizzie and Barnabas floods the room, drowning Chris and Melissa. Suspected of Lizzie’s death, Barnabas leaves Collinwwod. Paula ends up with her old boyfriend, Brian Glason.

COLLINS FAMILY TREE: Paula Collins, a distant cousin, lived at Cranshaw in 1910, when Barnabas sketched her likeness. Her “uncle”, Michael Collins, oldest of three brothers, escorted her to a party at which she met her future husband, Christopher Jennings, who purchased old Captain Cranshaw’s mansion.

TIMELINE: Paula meets Barnabas on the sidewheeler Annie Blair in March of 1910. He is visiting Collinsport, supposedly for the first time,there to meet his cousin, Michael Collins. (This revelation contradicts the timeline established in #6 somewhat.) Barnabas will be staying at the Old House. It is revealed that Barnabas became a vampire in 1796.

CASTING SHADOWS: Lisa Richards (Sabrina Stuart Jennings on TV) as Paula Jennings. One might think I’d cast Don Briscoe (Chris Jennings on TV) as Chris Jennings but I tried and failed. The book’s Chris Jennings is just too evil. I cast Chris Pennock, who is probably best known as Sebastian Shaw on Dark Shadows, but I think of him primarily in the role of Gabriel Collins.

TIMELINE DISCREPANCIES: Not even a third of the way in to this series of books and discrepancies have already begun to crop up. You can see why I needed to re-read the early ones in order to develop a consistent timeline (which may prove to be impossible as I get further along, I don’t know). #6 covers the years 1902 through 1911, which creates some overlap with #9, which takes place in 1909-10. It could be that these events occur simultaneously, but it’s not likely. (Much more likely is that Dan Ross didn’t take the timeline all that seriously, but where’s the fun in that?)

In the first decade of the 20th century (according to #6), when Jonas Collins was master of Collinwood, Barnabas Collins was grooming his adopted daughter Judith to become his bride (ick), a situation which wouldn’t be resolved until May of 1911, the night Judith eloped and Greta Collins died. Yet #9 has it that Michael Collins is master of Collinwood and Barnabas is visiting for the first time. Furthermore, in Jonas was born in 1860 he would have been a boy of ten when Barnabas was there in 1870. There are a couple of possibilities which may account for this discrepancies.

First, it may be necessary to fudge the dates a bit in order to achieve a consistent timeline. If the situation with Judith and Greta was resolved a year or two earlier or if the situation with Chris and Paula Jennings happened a year or two later, that might work. I suppose it’s possible that these everts did happen simultaneously (at Collinwood and at Crenshaw), but that doesn’t account for Barnabas arriving for the “first time” in 1911, nor does it account for two simultaneous heads of household, Jonas and Michael.

Now, it could be that one set of Collinses (Jonas’ branch to Michael’s) transitioned to another right around this time. Perhaps Jonas and Margaret moved out of Collinwood at this time, and Barnabas took advantage of this change to pass himself off as a younger Barnabas. Or perhaps Jonas and Margaret were living elsewhere within the mansion. (It does have 40 rooms after all.) Currently, I’m leaning towards a combination of these explanations: the events of #6 and #9 do not overlap, and Barnabas took advantage a “transfer of power” from Jonas to Michael to establish a new identity for himself.

THE PHANTOM AND BARNABAS COLLINS - #10 in a series

“Exploring the Collins cemetery with Barnabas, Maggie Evans faints and awakens in 1880. She becomes the victim of Dr. Giles Collins, whose experiments have claimed several lives. After a nightmarish adventure, Maggie awakens in present time with only vague memories of her experience.”

COMMENTARY: In the framing sequence, Barnabas is back; Victoria is gone without explanation; Maggie (unseen since a brief scene in #1) is now David’s governess. Takes place in August (probably 1969). There is lots of foreshadowing in the framing sequence. Barnabas is up to Dr. Giles Collins in the family history he is supposedly writing. He shows Maggie Giles’ tomb. There is a hidden room off to one side in which Valeria Norris is secretly buried. Giles’ father interred her there because he thought that’s what Giles would want, but he didn’t approve of Valeria and would not have her buried openly in the Collins family cemetery. Maggie swoons and awakens, with amnesia, in the drawing room at Collinwood in the year 1880.

CHARACTERS:

Asa Collins: The head of the family in 1880.

Aunt Polly Collins: Asa’s sister.

Dr. Giles Collins: Asa’s son. He runs a clinic treating consumption out of the Cellar at Collinwood, of which his father does not approve. He is a widower.

Olive Collins: Giles deceased wife.

Valeria Norris: Olive’s sister.

Maggie Evans: Valeria’s best friend. Both are visiting Collinwood from Boston. Giles is in love with Maggie. Asa doesn’t like Valeria, but has taken a shine to Maggie. Maggie was thrown from a horse and doesn’t know who she is, nor does she have clear memories of her future namesake. The only person she seems to recognize is…

Barnabas Collins: A cousin visiting from England. Asa is openly hostile toward him.

Mrs. Judd & Letty: Barnabas’ servants, a grandmother and granddaughter, suspected of being witches.

Maggie forms an attachment to Barnabas, who warns her against Giles. Likewise, Giles warns her against Barnabas. Maggie has no memory of her supposed feelings for Giles, but the night of her accident, she is awakened by a scream. She rushes to the window in time to see Barnabas rushing across the lawn. When he disappears, two men follow in pursuit. A giant bat hovers above, then flies toward her closed window.

Maggie also begins to see a “phantom in pink,” a wrinkled old woman who attacks her. When she meets Mrs. Judd for the first time, Maggie at first thinks she is the phantom.Mrs. Judd mysteriously gains access to Maggie’s room in Collinwood from time to time.

From Aunt Polly, Maggie learns that Giles and Olive were not happily married, Olive and Valeria did not get along, and when Giles brought Valeria to Collinwood to care for Olive it was against her wishes. Maggie also learns that Giles is not treating the long line of patients for consumption; he is using them as guinea pigs for an experimental serum of his own devising. He bribed Olive with a string of pearls to let him experiment on her. She agreed and the serum prematurely aged her to look like an old woman. After Olive died, she was buried at night and Giles bricked off her room.

Maggie suspects that she was brought to Collinwood to replace Olive as a test subject. Her suspicions are confirmed when Giles offers her the same string of pearls he offered Olive. Maggie discovers that Barnabas is a vampire, but remains loyal to him. Asa and giles also know, and are setting him up to take a fall. Collinwood maid Mabel has been seeing Barnabas late at night, and when she turns up dead with the blood drained from her body, the situation comes to a head.

Some days pass and, in the middle of the night, Aunt Polly fell (or was pushed) down the stairs, breaking her neck. The service was held in the drawing room. Later that night, Maggie decides to pay her last respects alone. When she gets downstairs she is shocked to see the pink phantom standing next to the coffin. Maggie hides, then follows the phantom upstairs to the vicinity of the bricked-up room, which adjoins Giles’. The adjoining door is open, and Maggie steps inside to find the entire room done up in pink!

Just then, she is grabbed roughly from behind. It is Giles, and he tells her the story of the Norris curse, which afflicts all Norris women when they reach their mid-twenties. It causes rapid aging and, eventually, death. Olive was afflicted with this disease and, as her body deteriorated, so did her mind. She became convinced that she looked better in pink, and Giles furnished an entire room for her in that color. So she didn’t have to face anyone, he faked her death and kept her in that room… most of the time.

By this time he had fallen in love with Valeria and was determined to prevent her from succumbing to the disease. It was Giles who drained the blood from Mabel. He is now convinced his experiments have been a success, but the only cure for Valeria is a complete transfusion of blood, for which he intends to use Maggie as a source. Giles forces her down a secret passage to his cellar laboratory.

At this point, things happen very quickly. Maggie asks why Giles didn’t use this technique on Olive. Olive becomes enraged and shoots Giles, then shoots Valeria, both dead. Barnabas appears and Olive shoots him, too, but he is unharmed. When all this comes to light, Barnabas is cleared of the crimes and Asa forgives him. Maggie agrees to stay with Asa until his memory returns, and Barnabas leaves. After their final goodbye, Maggie passes out and awaken in the present with little memory of her time in 1880.

Obviously, this plot bears striking similarities to several of the other books in this series. First, Giles secretly kept his not-dead wife on the premises to terrorize the heroine, just as Elizabeth kept Ernest’s also-not-dead wife locked in the basement in #1. Second, Aunt Polly is killed by being pushed down the stairs in much the same way Granny Entwhistle was killed in #6. Finally, Barnabas insists Maggie remain at Collinwood despite obvious and increasing danger as he did with Paula at Cranshaw in #9.

Sure, these paperbacks are formulaic, but they’re fun reads and I’m enjoying fleshing out the timeline.

CASTING SHADOWS: I cast Donna Wandrey (Roxanne Drew on television) as Valeria Norris. Because I cast Christopher Pennock as Chris Jennings last time, I cast Don Briscoe as Dr. Giles Collins now.

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