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    Yep, I was a Dark Shadows junkie. One of the millions of female teeny-boppers and bored young housewives, madly in love with Jonathan Frid. It all started back when I was in sixth grade. We had a science teacher, Mrs. Brown, young and pretty, who did not get home early enough to watch it, so every class began with "What happened on Dark Shadows?" then the whole class would chime in with details. It was the first and only daytime soap opera I ever watched, and a gothic one at that. But the most important historical significance about the show was that it changed the entire way vampires were portrayed.
    Bram Stoker's Dracula was erotic, but few probably noticed (and I'm pretty sure he intended it to be so). Vampires were portrayed in the movies as cold-blooded monsters that terrified us, and we most definitely did not love. But we loved Barnabas Collins. We pitied him that he had been caught up in this terrible curse all because of a jealous lover who, though he didn't know it at the time, happened to be a witch. Vampirism is erotic, but take a handsome and wealthy man, and for some reason, a really sexy one, who happens to be a vampire and we find ourselves more interested in the love scenes than the scary ones. The thing is, I am pretty sure I remember correctly that there was little to no serious violence and gore. Everything was much more subtle. The alluring part was Barnabas' secret, and his ability to move in and out of his wealthy family without them having a clue. Having been a human, and in passionate love a long time ago, left him with that ability to care about people and have a conscience about his activities. Of course, modern vampire portrayals, like Twilight continue with the sexy and romantic image.
    When I was a kid, I really did not even think Jonathan Frid was handsome, although looking through lots of photos as I read this book, he actually was quite good looking. But there was something about the way he appeared on screen that just drove everyone crazy, especially the females. I remember reading in some teen fan magazine way back then, that his special way of hesitating and other-worldly look was due to the fact that he could not read the teleprompter without his glasses! In fact, from what I remember reading back then was that he had a great sense of humor, and the cast seemed to have a blast doing the show. Obviously there was a great amount of love between the cast members, as they have kept in touch all these years. Of course many are now deceased.
    Frid was born in Hamilton, Ontario in 1924, and died there in 2012, at age 87. If you are not familiar with the original series, please check it out. Don't bother with the revival series and especially not the movie. Anyways, of course that is him on the cover of the book, along with Lara Parker, the author, who played the evil Angelique, and we really did hate her, which confirms how well she did her job. Here is the very detailed and informative Dark Shadows Wikipedia page. Quite a few well-known actors and actresses had roles in this series, such as Joan Bennett, Grayson Hall, David Selby, and Kathryn Leigh Scott, a former playboy bunny, and the object of Barnabas' passion across lifetimes.
    And the show covered many of those, with the cast playing related characters in different centuries. One never knew when the setting would end up in the past or present, as the storyline shifted to enable us to see how things became as they were in the 1960s. The show centers around the wealthy Collins family, set in Collinsport, Maine. They have lots of skeletons in the closet, as you may imagine. Barnabas does not arrive until episode 211, as a distant cousin, but he is actually a couple hundred year-old vampire. He lives in the Old House, where his coffin is in the basement. The first "parallel time" shift goes back to 1795, where we learn how he acquired this curse. And that is all I will say about the series. Here are some more websites to check out, and be sure to watch the two YouTube tributes to Jonathan Frid. You will see why he was so adored. The best article is the first one, from the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Read it first, especially if you know little about the show. It makes the interesting point that Frid actually developed the character on his own. His original contract was for ninety days, ending with a stake through his heart, but it was he who not only saved the show from cancellation, but made it the most watched daytime soap opera in its time and one of the most popular ever. But even words and photos fall short for phenomena such as this. Try explaining Beatlemania to someone born in the 1990s. You had to be there.
Jonathan Frid transformed the vampire
Dark Shadows Wiki
Evolution of Vampires Onscreen: Barnabas Collins from 'Dark Shadows' was the blueprint for modern-day vampires
YouTube tributes to Jonathan Frid
YouTube tribute to Jonathan Frid
    That's enough about the series. Now on to the book. Dan Curtis Productions, Inc. owns the copyright, by the way, so obviously it is "official" Dark Shadows literature. This is Book Two in a series of four. Others cast members have also written Dark Shadows books. Here is the Amazon page with lots of them. I would imagine Dan Curtis Productions, Inc. owns them all. What made this one such fun is that as I read, I saw the characters in my mind. I saw the Old House and Collinwood, all running through my head. Of course those not familiar with the series might perceive the book differently. It is well-written and moves right along. And like the TV series, it goes back and forth in time, but this time it goes back to the late 1600s—to the witch trials in Salem. The Wikipedia page mentions famous literature that influenced certain episodes, and The Crucible is mentioned in the witchcraft trial episode, but it is set way later in 1795. Anyways, the book also reminded me of that play, because when I was in high school, our Drama Club presented it. Parker's historical setting and era coincides with the play, 1692.
    And that was one of the most interesting aspects of the story, which veered away from the Collins family, although we learn of the connection later. I am sure Parker did a lot of research, and I got inspired to read more about this horrific aberration of human behavior; not the accused, the accusers. I have a book about these trials on my Dover wishlist, and have since added a couple more. And so it begins with Miranda du Val, a young mother who had just given birth, in the wagon on her way to be hanged. It is not until the end of the story that we find out who she really is, or becomes, but, yes, she is a witch, but she is far from evil or was back then. She only becomes evil in later lives to revenge her persecutors, which includes the Collins family. Parker begins the first chapter with a quote: "If you take away my life, God will give you blood to drink." (Sarah Good. From the Scaffold, July 19, 1692) Here is some info on Salem from Wikipedia.
    That chapter is less than two full pages, then we quickly move to the "present," 1971, Collinsport, Maine. The TV series ended that year, so I suppose Parker chose that date so we would know this was new material. We see Barnabas driving his Bentley with Willie Loomis as a passenger. He was the one who originally released Barnabas from his coffin, and has been his caretaker all these years. John Karlen, who played the role, just passed away this January.
    Barnabas is no longer a vampire, however. Dr. Julia Hoffman has creates a serum that she's been injecting in him to free him from the curse. Well, not really, but at the physical level, he is human. Barnabas and Willie are snooping at the Old House, which Roger Collins has just sold. The new owner has made an extreme effort to restore it exactly as it had been. Except for the rug, which Barnabas notes is a tacky imitation. He is now a wealthy merchant in antique Persian carpets. The Collins family became wealthy as merchants.
    But they also discover something horrific. There is a dead man, and they knows immediately what has killed him. Another vampire has invaded the territory. He and Willie dispose of the body, but he does not drive a stake through the heart. Silly him. And what is even worse, Barnabas has seen the new owner, Antoinette, and she is the image of Angelique. He begins to fear that she has once again travelled across time to get him—her insatiable love and sworn hate. She was not a nice girl.
    And the other thing that is rather disturbing is that there's a hippie camp set up in the surrounding woods, which also belongs to the new owner. Ya gotta be from that era to understand that part. Anyways, they are actually pretty harmless. They do drugs, make music, write poetry, practice free love, and are pacifists. Roger Collins, however, wants them gone because they use the woods as a toilet. What nobody seems to realize at first is that Antoinette belongs to this commune.
    In the next chapter, we return to Salem, 1692, and learn more about Miranda's life. She lives with Reverend Benajah Collins and his family, son of the magistrate, Amadeus Collins, one of those responsible for her eventual hanging and both of whom inspired her hatred and vows to revenge the Collins family in general. Her parents were killed by the Wampanoag tribe, and she was raised by Chief Metacomet, or King Philip. He was a real person. Parker has mixed historical people with fictional ones in the 1692 flashbacks. She calls him father, and later finds that he really is. She is raised the Indian way, and communicates with all of nature. But she is more than that. She can fly and cast spells, but is not evil. However she is suspected of being strange. It didn't take much. She mentions a woman hanged for reading a book other than the Bible and another for giving birth to a deformed child. Even if one had a birthmark or mole, it was considered a mark of the devil. Women were stripped naked during trials and thoroughly searched.
    But as for Miranda, she is a healer, not a killer. She knows what others do not. Her father has left her a farm, but she is not allowed to take ownership of it yet, nor will she ever. Of course, there are others who covet it. She is constantly beaten and sexually abused by the school teacher, and locked in a closet. But there she discovers his books, and eventually gets him executed for what he reads. His severed head curses her.
    There is a young man who is fond of her—Andrew Merriweather. He is dull and simple, but she decides he would be good for her as a protector. They could live on her farm in peace. She is a hard worker and knows how to live off the land. She decides to cast a spell on him so he will get her pregnant even before they're married. That doesn't work out so well. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Back to the present . . . .
    In the next chapter, we get a glimpse of how Barnabas feels physically in transition back to human. He is sick to his stomach frequently, and gets mentally confused. And as we find out more and more, he is aging rather quickly. He is shocked when he looks in a mirror. The fact that he has a reflection at all is disconcerting because as a vampire he did not. There are many aspects of his life as a vampire that he misses, and he is never quite sure that he's completely human. Plus, he has agreed to marry Dr. Hoffman, which has become uncomfortable. She is looking older and sicker every day, and though she loves him, he does not love her, but thinks he needs her. She has led him to believe that. At dinner, Roger is ranting because of the hippies, and blames Barnabas for their presence. And, oh, almost forgot. The other rather aged relative who lives there is Quentin. He's a werewolf, but appears human because a portrait, hidden of course, has taken on his real image. Kind of a Dorian Gray thing. Lots of creepy things about this family. He and Barnabas know each other's secrets, but he does not know that Barnabas has been cured. And what is even worse, Barnabas finds out he has been dating Antoinette!!
    She sings at the local bar, the Blue Whale, so he goes to investigate. Though she resembles Angelique, there are things about her that just do not fit the personality. He is surprised to see her leave suddenly, so he follows her. She goes to Windcliff Sanitarium. He gets out of the car and, concealed, spies on her. He still intends to confront her and accuse her of being Angelique. But he does not, when he sees her run out of the building with a girl, jumps into her pickup truck, and takes off.
    There are really a number of themes running at the same time, and this review is already getting pretty long, so I will just highlight a few more events, plus I do not want to give too much away. Back in Salem, 1692, Miranda du Val has been invited to a witch's meeting by a number of local girls. It seems everyone wanted to get in on the witch thing even though it could mean execution. Miranda has no friends, so she decides to go. She at least is a witch. But one of the girls dies, and of course she is blamed. The other girls admit being there, but apparently since they confessed, and turned against Miranda, they would not be harshly punished. I will stop here on Miranda's story, because as we know from the beginning, she is hanged. But the truth about her that we might not suspect doesn't come out until the very end of the book.
    And as for Barnabas, he is finding companionship with his young cousin David, Roger's son. They make a trip to Salem because he has learned that Antoinette hangs out there. It is Halloween, and Salem goes all out. They really do have a Witch Museum, that you can see at the Wikipedia Salem link above. While they are there for the presentation, Barnabas notices a flyer from the Witch Education Bureau advertising a séance. He feels stifled in the room, so he walks around. There are three wax witches in glass cases. The first one was of the "typical" witch—broom, black cat, warts, pointed hat; the second was more the Angelique type.

In the forest with the Devil, who was unmistakable with his raven cape and blood red eyes, stood the vixen witch as he knew her, capricious and venomous, caster of spells. Her golden mane and flushed cheek only enhanced her knowing countenance She greeted him with a look of cool disdain, and the stark trees towered over her as she displayed the book where she had signed away her soul. That is she, he thought with rancor, my tormentor.

    But it is the third case that surprises him.

Radiant within an autumn woodland, a Mother Goddess gazed down at him. Wavy copper-colored hair hung softly below her shoulders, and her dress was a weaving of grasses and wildflowers. The trees behind her glimmered with scarlet and gold, and the ground at her feet was strewn with herbs and sparkling dust. Her eyes were of the softest blue, and so kind he thought she poured out her soul in love only for him. WICCA the sign read, FIRST DO NO HARM. Barnabas was transfixed.

    The next day David and Barnabas visit the graveyard, and Antoinette—Toni—is there. She looks up but shows them no recognition. After she leaves, they go to the grave: Infant of Miranda du Val—Born October 29—Died October 31, 1692. Later Barnabas visits the library at the Peabody Essex Museum, and sees some books strewn on a table. He is surprised to see a book on the Collins family genealogy, and begins to read someone's notes. One of them reads, "The Collins family curse begins the night Miranda du Val was hanged." They belong to Toni, and he finally speaks with her face-to-face for the first time. He believes he sees the face of Angelique, and stupidly confronts her. At first she laughs off everything he says, but then she gets upset and scared, and tells him he is nuts, and to get away or she'll call the cops. He feels terrible, and days later, buys an expensive Persian carpet, the twin of the one that was formerly in the Old House to replace the tacky imitation.
    The girl that Toni brought home from Windcliff was her daughter, Jacqueline. There really is a vampire in the woods, and Barnabas worries about the hippies, because they are quite peaceful and harmless. He goes there one evening to try to warn them, then ends up getting stoned because Antoinette slips him something. They make love, and Barnabas suddenly remembers the wonderful parts about being human. No one wants to heed his warning about the monster loose in the woods, but it comes and attacks one of the girls. Barnabas fights it off, and it bites him, but he gets a stake through its heart. Therefore he is free from the bite of the vampire. But the girl dies. That was the one he and Willie buried at the beginning without properly killing.
    And that's as far as I'll go. I'm not sure I liked the ending, but I can see Parker's point. I did like the book, however, and recommend it along with all the other Dark Shadows stuff, including and especially the videos of the series that are all available. Here are some pics. The first is Frid with his two ladies, Lara Parker and Kathryn Leigh Scott.

Lara Parker, Jonathan Frid, Kathryn Leigh Scott

    Here's Parker as Angelique, Frid as Barnabas, then with Scott, as Maggie Evans, who also played his eternal love, Josette DuPres.

Jonathan Frid

Jonathan Frid, Kathryn Leigh Scott

Lara Parker

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