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The Beetle - Richard Marsh "A face looked into mine, and, in front of me, were those dreadful eyes. Then, whether I was dead or living, I said to myself that this could be nothing human,--nothing fashioned in God's image could wear such a shape as that. Fingers were pressed into my cheeks, they were thrust into my mouth, they touched my staring eyes, shut my eyelids, then opened them again, and--horror of horrors!--the blubber lips were pressed to mine--the soul of something evil entered into me in the guise of a kiss."

OMG those LIPS those EYES!!!

The Beetle was published in 1897 the same year as the [a:Bram Stoker|6988|Bram Stoker|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1202438456p2/6988.jpg]'s classic book [b:Dracula|17245|Dracula|Bram Stoker|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347251549s/17245.jpg|3165724]. Initially The Beetle outsold Dracula, but as word got around the Stoker book became the hit of the season. I pulled up a time line to see what else of significance happened in 1897 and the one interesting literary tidbit that jumped out at me was it was the year that [a:Marcel Proust|233619|Marcel Proust|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1189444962p2/233619.jpg] fought a pistol duel with Jean Lorrain. What I know about Proust it seems so improbable, but there you have it mentioned on a history timeline. I'm sure the Proustians among us can confirm or deny the validity of that occurrence.

The story is told by four narrators. The first by Robert Holt, a man who has fallen on hard times. Caught in a downpour, he sees an open window, and in a moment of desperation to secure shelter from the drumming on his head he enters the house. He finds a creature there that goes way beyond his imagination to comprehend. He is stripped naked, mounted, fondled, and kissed most vile. He is mesmerized and turned into a...ZOMBIE.

Poor Robert Holt, a man no longer worried about the weather

The second narrator is Sydney Atherton, a brilliant scientist in love with Majorie Lindon, but who should be in love with Dora Grayling. Don't worry as the story progresses the women get him straightened out on this fact. He is drawn into the action of this story by his association with Lindon and more importantly by her association with Paul Lessingham. He sees a transformation that tests the bounds of what he believes to be true of the natural world.

"The light was full on, so that it was difficult to suppose that I could make a mistake as to what took place in front of me. As he replied to my mocking allusion to the beetle by echoing my own words, he vanished,--or, rather, I saw him taking a different shape before my eyes. His loose draperies all fell off him, and, as they were in the very act of falling, there issued, or there seemed to issue out of them, a monstrous creature of the beetle type, --the man himself was gone. On the point of size I wish ot make myself clear. My impersion, when I saw it first, was that it was as large as the man had been, and that it was, in some way, standing up on end, the legs towards me. But, the moment it came in view, it began to dwindle, and that so rapidly that, in a couple o seconds at mos,t a little heap of drapery was lying on the floor, on which was a truly astonishing example of the coleoptera. It appeared to be a beetle. It was perhaps, six or seven inches high, and about a foot in length. Its scales were of a vivid golden green. I could distinctly see where the the wings were sheathed along the back, and, as they seemed to be slightly agitated, I looked, every moment, to see them opened, and the thing take wing.


The third narrator is Majorie Lindon who is engaged to Paul Lessingham. She enlists the aid of Atherton to help her discover what is troubling her fiance. This is a most cruel assignment as Atherton is a most bitter rival of Lessingham for the love of Majorie, and the last thing he wants to do is help him.

The last narrator is Augustus Champnell a confidential agent who is brought into the plot by the solicitation by Paul Lessingham for help. His objective thinking does turn out to be a key to resolving the case.

Now it turns out that this creature is a follower of Isis and has pursued Paul Lessingham from Cairo to London to exact revenge. Lessingham took a walk on the wild side along the Rue de Rabagas while he was in Cairo and drank the drink the young lady offered him and woke up on a pile of rags.


"By my side knelt the Woman of the Songs. Leaning over, she wooed my mouth with kisses. I cannot describe to you the sense of horror and of loathing with which the contact of her lips oppressed me. There was about her something so unnatural, so inhuman, that I believed even then I would have destroyed her with as little sense of moral turpitude as if she had been some noxious insect.

Lessingham escapes and brings the horror back to London where he is just beginning a promising political career.

I usually try to include a picture of the author in my reviews. Below is the only picture I could find.

Photobucket Richard Marsh

A very mysterious man this Richard Marsh. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is of course pulp horror so if you are looking for a more literary work I would suggest Dracula. This book is well written for the genre and certainly intriguing from the stand point of presenting some of the fears of the Victorian Age. This is considered Marsh's best book, but I will certainly not hesitate to read another of his books. If anyone has enjoyed other books besides [a:Wilkie Collins|4012|Wilkie Collins|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1192222099p2/4012.jpg] that falls into this genre please share your suggestions.