Monday, August 5, 2013

A reader's guide to WOLF MOON RISING

The latest novel from Lara Parker, DARK SHADOWS: WOLF MOON RISING, is due out in two weeks. I'll have a review of the book posted soon, but it doesn't take a clairvoyant to predict that this book is going to provoke a great deal of debate. DARK SHADOWS fans are a fiery, opinionated lot, and I think we'll be talking about the strengths and weaknesses of WOLF MOON RISING for quite a while.

Over at TOR's official blog, Parker has this to say about the novel:

"In search of a missing portrait two teenagers travel back in time to the twenties during prohibition, where the young Elizabeth is smitten with the never-aging Quentin. He is suffering under a werewolf curse, but, true to his character, he is also a bootlegger, and the Collins family is consorting with the Mafia. When I read about the Ku Klux Klan, I knew I had found what might be the long-suppressed secret of the Collins family."

You can read the entire essay HERE. If you're interested WOLF MOON RISING, it's well worth your time.

For Parker, the "hook" to the Collins family is its inherent corruption. The family had issues long before vampires, werewolves and witches staked their claims to Collinsport, and this perspective is reflected in the twisted company the Collinses keep in the novel's 1920s flashback. WOLF MOON RISING isn't a disposable tie-in novel designed to keep you acquainted with the characters until the next movie is released. There's a lot of forward momentum in the story, and absolutely nothing is off limits.

There's also a lot going on under the surface. WOLF MOON RISING isn't a book you're going to want to dive into cold. It's likely that casual fans of DARK SHADOWS will be a little confused by the changes in  relationships of many its lead characters. Some of these men and women suffered (ahem) radical changes of fortune in Parker's last novel, THE SALEM BRANCH, which also introduced two new characters integral to the plot of  WOLF MOON RISING.

None of this is meant to suggest that there's "required reading" to enjoy WOLF MOON RISING. But, if you want to get the most out of the novel, here are a few good places to start.

THE SALEM BRANCH: Parker's first DARK SHADOWS novel, ANGELIQUE'S DESCENT, was published in 1998, and almost a decade would pass before the follow-up hit stores. Unlike its predecessor, THE SALEM BRANCH extended the continuity of the original series and takes place not long after the show left the airwaves in 1970. At the start of the story, Barnabas Collins is adapting to life as a mere mortal about as well as he took to life as a vampire, and looks upon his mortal frailty as yet another curse. If he didn't have enough (mostly self-created) problems, a woman bearing a disturbing likeness to Angelique moves into the Old House. It's a fun, complex novel that not only gives us an uncomfortable look at 1970s Collinwood, but also the early relationship between warlock Judah Zachary and the woman who would become Angelique Bouchard. If you 're interested in WOLF MOON RISING, then THE SALEM BRANCH is essential reading.

THE BENNETT PLAYBILL: First published in 1970, Joan Bennett's memoirs have long been out of print, but inexpensive copies of the book aren't difficult to find online. The Bennett family had a long and storied career on the stage and screen, and Parker pulls from Joan's early life to devise an alternate history for Elizabeth Collins-Stoddard in WOLF MOON RISING. While you won't need to read THE BENNETT PLAYBILL to understand the new DARK SHADOWS novel, having a little background on Bennett's family will shine some light on the novel's extended "flashback" sequence.

DARK SHADOWS is famous for riffing on classic literature. It sprang to life in 1966 as an homage to Charlotte Bronte's JANE EYRE, and later assimilated stories as varied as DRACULA, REBECCA and FAUST into the narrative. So, it makes sense for Parker to seek inspiration from a story like THE GREAT GATSBY, especially when you consider it shares many themes with DARK SHADOWS.
The character's lead, Jay Gatsby, is a wealthy New Yorker of ambiguous wealth, known best to his neighbors as the host of lavish weekend parties thrown at his Gothic mansion. Gatsby is suspected of being involved in illegal bootlegging and other skullduggery, a plot point that easily finds its way into WOLF MOON RISING.


Unknown said...

Am looking forward to the book. But remember "The Curse of Collinwood" by good old Marilyn (Dan) Ross? That novel (my favorite in that series) had the Collins family engaged in the slave trade before the Civil War. It doesn't get much more disturbing than that!

vintagehoarder said...

Given the Collinses were doing business in Martinique in 1795 I'd be very surprised if they were NOT involved in the slave trade at some point. (Actually, given the brutality of life in the sugar plantation islands I've been wondering how much of it must have rubbed off on Josette - but that's a question for another thread... )

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