Dark Shadows novels

June 3, 2007

I’ve spent the last week or so reading the first Dark Shadows books, ones that were released starting in the 1960s to tie-in with the television show. If you aren’t familiar with it, Dark Shadows was a gothic soap opera that became popular after introducing a vampire character and other supernatural elements.

Over the years it had a little bit of everything, ghosts, werewolves, gypsy curses, and even time travel. There was an attempt to update it in the 1990s that failed because the schedule was constantly being changed, and another fairly recent try that didn’t make it to air. The Sci-Fi channel used to show it, but stopped because they hate me and because they’d rather find time for stupid bullshit like this.

Anyway, I’ve read the first four novels and am halfway through the fifth. They’re all very short (around 150 pages) so it hasn’t taken very long. I won’t say they’re good, but they’re entertaining enough for fans of the show or people who like cheesy gothic mysteries.

The first five books are:

  • Dark Shadows
  • Victoria Winters
  • Strangers at Collins House
  • The Mystery of Collinwood
  • The Curse of Collinwood

Victoria Winters is the heroine so far. She’s an occasionally annoying foundling who is hired as a governess for the mysterious Collins family, and believes the secret of her past may be connected to them. Based on the story so far, she must be right. She only occasionally does any teaching, so they have to have some other reason for keeping her around. Victoria bothers me as a character because she’s constantly flipping between believer and skeptic. She’s like Mulder and Scully in one person, if that one person was not too bright, lived in an old spooky house, and was constantly fending off both murderers and older, mostly wealthy men.

Each cover features the vampire Barnabas Collins brooding at Victoria (except for The Curse of Collinwood, where he’s actually showing fang). This is a blatant and pretty pathetic marketing ploy when you realize that none of these books actually have Barnabas Collins in them.

None of these early Dark Shadows books have supernatural activities so far. The crimes are mostly mixed up with Collins family drama, though there are some very Scooby Doo moments where bad guys try to frighten poor Victoria with things that seem ghostly. Book five may have zombies in it, I’m not far enough along to know if they’re real zombies or just local fugitives. In fact, I’m getting impatient with The Curse of Collinwood, because the whole thing feels like one pointless, repetitive argument about whether there are real zombies on the loose or just some crazy, hippie fugitives. The zombies/fugitives only make an appearance to get the argument started again. At this point, I’m hoping that both Victoria and Burke Devlin get their brains eaten.

Of course I know that won’t happen, because if Victoria died then there wouldn’t be anyone for Barnabas to brood at when he makes an appearance. I’m assuming that the vampire finally shows up in the next one. I’m prepared for this to be wishful thinking, but he’s on the cover of book six (again) and it’s titled Barnabas Collins. I’m really looking forward to some of the later novels which will probably feature my favorite character, Quentin. There are almost twenty books with exciting titles like Barnabas, Quentin and the Frightened Bride.

Assuming I can actually find them all, this is going to be great.


4 Responses to “Dark Shadows novels”

  1. fstclss Says:

    According to the author’s wife, Dan Ross didn’t watch the actual television show. When the characters of Barnabas and Quentin became popular on the show, he was told that Barnabas was a 200-year-old vampire and Quentin was a werewolf and he added them to the novels. Victoria and then Maggie become bookends to the novels, where the stories are about other heroines in different time periods and their spooky adventures with Barnabas and Quentin. Out of all the novels, there is only one where the characters resemble their tv counterparts. Barnabas, Quentin, and the Body Snatchers. It’s one of the better stories, although it is more science fiction than gothic romance. The books are a quick read, but entertaining. The hardest book to find is the last one in the series, Barnabas, Quentin, and the Vampire Beauty. Enjoy!

  2. deety Says:

    Thanks a lot for the info! I’ve been doing a little bit of reading about the novels as I was looking up a list of the titles. I finally got to the first Barnabas books, and I think that it was an interesting idea to have the stories set in other times. It makes the differences between the books and the show bother me less.

  3. Laura Stamps Says:

    I had no idea there were “Dark Shadows” novels. Wow! I loved that show and would rush home every afternoon from elementary school to catch it at 4:30. I even centered one of my birthday parties around the show, and my girlfriends and I stopped stuffing ourselves with cake and ice cream long enough to watch the episode that came on that day. Great fun! I loved all the characters, especially Barnabas. They even made a “Dark Shadows” movie, didn’t they? I think I remember seeing it at the theater. The way movies have advanced since then it seems to me they could make a “Dark Shadws” movie series today that would be just as popular as “Blade” or “Underworld.” Great post about this…thanks!

  4. Jim Says:

    Thne original printings of the first few novels did not have barnabas on the cover because he wasn’t a character on the show yet–when he became so popular they did new covers for those first novels. The original printings are supposed to be very rare and valuable.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: