Review: Forests of the Night by Tanith Lee

Forests of the NightForests of the Night by Tanith Lee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am currently reading this superb collection of short stories by my favorite, Tanith Lee for the second time. She is the Goddess of short fiction as far as I am concerned. And just like extras you get on DVD, Lee prefaces each story with how she was inspired to write it, giving us emerging writers a valuable peek into the mind of a master.

The first paragraph of the first story, Bloodmantle,encapsulates the evocative power of Tanith Lee’s writing:

“February, the wolf month, is also the color of wolves. And through the pale browns and whites of it, something so very red can be seen from a long way off.”

The next story, The Gorgon won the World Fantasy Award. J’adore the Fin de Siecle Elle est trois (La Morte).
Her twist on Snow White, Red as Blood, was my initiation into the magical Lee-world and, combined with Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, made me want to write fiction. The Hunting of Death: The Unicorn is also rich with poetry. All these stories are wonderful.

This book is rare and out of print. I was willing to pay handsomely for it—that should tell you how much I love Lee’s stories—for what my opinion is worth. If you have a chance to read it, don’t miss out.

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The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains by Frederick Marryat Pt.9

The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains

by Frederick Marryat

Click  here to begin at Part One

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Or scroll to the bottom to Older Entries for Pts One – Eight

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“I remained some time by his side before he recovered. ‘Where am I?’ said he, ‘what has happened? Oh! —yes, yes! I recollect now. Heaven forgive me!’

“He rose and we walked up to the grave; what again was our astonishment and horror to find that, instead of the dead body of my mother-in-law, as we expected, there was lying over the remains of my poor sister, a large white she-wolf.

“‘The white wolf!’ exclaimed my father, ‘the white wolf which decoyed me into the forest —I see it all now —I have dealt with the spirits of the Hartz Mountains.’

“For some time my father remained in silence and deep thought. He then carefully lifted up the body of my sister, replaced it in the grave, an covered it over as before, having struck the head of the dead animal with the heel of his boot, and raving like a madman. He walked back to the cottage, shut the door, and threw himself on the bed; I did the same, for I was in a stupor of amazement.

“Early in the morning we were both roused by a loud knocking at the door, and in rushed the hunter Wilfred.

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“‘My daughter —man —my daughter! —where is my daughter?’ cried he in a rage.

“‘Where the wretch, the fiend, should be, I trust,’ replied my father, starting up, and displaying equal choler; ‘where she should be —in hell! Leave this cottage, or you may fare worse.’

“‘Ha —ha!’ replied the hunter, ‘would you harm a potent spirit of the Hartz Mountains. Poor mortal, who must needs wed a werewolf.’

“‘Out, demon! I defy thee and thy power.’

“‘Yet shall you feel it; remember your oath —your solemn oath —never to raise your hand against her to harm her.’

“‘I made no compact with evil spirits.’

“‘You did, and if you failed in your vow, you were to meet the vengeance of the spirits. Your children were to perish by the vulture, the wolf—’

“‘Out, out, demon!’

“‘And their bones blanch in the wilderness. Ha! —ha!’

“My father, frantic with rage, seized his axe, and raised it over Wilfred’s head to strike.

“‘All this I swear,’ continued the huntsman, mockingly.

“The axe descended; but it passed through the form of the hunter, and my father lost his balance, and tell heavily on the floor.

“‘Mortal!’ said the hunter, striding over my father’s body, ‘we have power over those only who have committed murder. You have been guilty of a double murder: you shall pay the penalty attached to your marriage vow. Two of your children are gone, the third is yet to follow —and follow them he will, for your oath is registered. Go —it were kindness to kill thee —your punishment is, that you live!’

“With these words the spirit disappeared. My father rose from the floor, embraced me tenderly, and knelt down in prayer.

“The next morning he quitted the cottage for ever. He took me with him, and bent his steps to Holland, where we safely arrived. He had some little money with him; but he had not been many days in Amsterdam before he was seized with a brain fever, and died raving mad. I was put into the asylum, and afterwards was sent to sea before the mast. You now know all my history. The question is, whether I am to pay the penalty of my father’s oath? I am myself perfectly convinced that, in some way or another, I shall.”

>The End

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The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains by Frederick Marryat Pt. 8

The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains

by Frederick Marryat

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“The spring now came on; the snow disappeared, and we were permitted to leave the cottage; but never would I quit for one moment my dear little sister, to whom since the death of my brother, I was more ardently attached than ever; indeed, I was afraid to leave her alone with my mother-in-law, who appeared to have a particular pleasure in ill-treating the child. My father was now employed upon his little farm, and I was able to render him some assistance.

“Marcella used to sit by us while we were at work, leaving my mother-in-law alone in the cottage. I ought to observe that, as the spring advanced, so did my mother-in-law decrease her nocturnal rambles, and that we never heard the growl of the wolf under the window after I had spoken of it to my father.

“One day, when my father and I were in the field, Marcella being with us, my mother-in-law came out, saying that she was going into the forest to collect some herbs my father wanted, and that Marcella must go to the cottage and watch the dinner. Marcella went; and my mother-in-law soon disappeared in the forest, taking a direction quite contrary to that in which the cottage stood, and leaving my father and I, as it were, between her and Marcella.

“About an hour afterwards we were startled by shrieks from the cottage —evidently the shrieks of little Marcella. ‘Marcella has burnt herself, father,’ said I, throwing down my spade. My father threw down his, and we both hastened to the cottage. Before we could gain the door, out darted a large white wolf, which fled with the utmost celerity. My father had no weapon; he rushed into the cottage, and there saw poor little Marcella expiring. Her body was dreadfully mangled, and the blood pouring from it had formed a large pool on the cottage floor. My father’s first intention had been to seize his gun and pursue; but he was checked by this horrid spectacle; he knelt down by his dying child, and burst into tears. Marcella could just look kindly on us for a few seconds, and then her eyes were closed in death.

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“My father and I were still hanging over my poor sister’s body, when my mother-in-law came in. At the dreadful sight she expressed much concern; but she did not appear to recoil from the sight of blood, as most women do.

“‘Poor child!’ said she, ‘it must have been that great white wolf which passed me just now, and frightened me so. She’s quite dead, Krantz.’

“‘I know it —I know it!’ cried my father, in agony.

“I thought my father would never recover from the effects of this second tragedy; he mourned bitterly over the body of his sweet child, and for several days would not consign it to its grave, although frequently requested by my mother-in-law to do so. At last he yielded, and dug a grave for her close by that of my poor brother, and took every precaution that the wolves should not violate her remains.

“I was now really miserable, as I lay alone in the bed which I had formerly shared with my brother and sister. I could not help thinking that my mother-in-law was implicated in both their deaths, although I could not account for the manner; but I no longer felt afraid of her; my little heart was full of hatred and revenge.

“The night after my sister had been buried, as I lay awake, I perceived my mother-in-law get up and go out of the cottage. I waited some time, then dressed myself, and looked out through the door, which I half opened. The moon shone bright and I could see the spot where my brother and my sister had been buried; and what was my horror when I perceived my mother-in-law busily removing the stones from Marcella’s grave!

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“She was in her white night-dress and the moon shone full upon her. She was digging with her hands, and throwing away the stones behind her with all the ferocity of a wild beast. It was some time before I could collect my senses, and decide what I should do. At last I perceived that she had arrived at the body, and raised it up to the side of the grave. I could bear it no longer, I ran to my father and awoke him.

“‘Father, father!’ cried I, ‘dress yourself, and get your gun.’

“‘What!’ cried my father, ‘the wolves are there, are they?’

“He jumped out of bed, threw on his clothes, and, in his anxiety, did not appear to perceive the absence of his wife. As soon as he was ready I opened the door; he went out, and I followed him.

“Imagine his horror, when (unprepared as he was for such a sight) he beheld, as he advanced towards the grave not a wolf, but his wife, in her night-dress, on her hands and knees, crouching by the body of my sister, and tearing off large pieces of the flesh, and devouring them with all the avidity of a wolf. She was too busy to be aware of our approach. My father dropped his gun; his hair stood on end, so did mine; he breathed heavily, and then his breath for a time stopped. I picked up the gun and put it into his hand. Suddenly he appeared as if concentrated rage had restored him to double vigor; he leveled his piece, fired, and with a loud shriek down fell the wretch whom he had fostered in his bosom.

“‘God of Heaven!’ cried my father, sinking down upon the earth in a swoon, as soon as he had discharged his gun.

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To be continued…

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