Previously in Varney the Vampire: Flora is still the only reasonable one and everyone else is still insufferably dull.
I complained about the previous digressions because I thought they distracted from the story -- even the ones that provided awkward exposition necessary to understand later story points. So is it hypocritical of me now to be glad that Chapter 29 ( A PEEP THOROUGH AN IRON GRATING. -- THE LONELY PRISONER IN HIS DUNGEON. -- THE MYSTERY.) is another digression?
Probably, but I just don't think I can handle more of the Bannerworths right now.
Chapter 29 concerns a mysterious prisoner in a mysterious dungeon and is narrated by William Shatner:
Some distance from the Hall, which, from time immemorial, had been the home and the property of the Bannerworth family, was an ancient ruin known by the name of Monks' Hall...
Ostensibly for religious purposes, but really as a stronghold for defence, as well as for aggression, this Monks' Hall, as it was called, partook quite as much of the character of a fortress, as of an ecclesiastical building.
All (most, at least) kidding aside, even if I weren't in need of a break I would genuinely enjoy this chapter. It's this really odd mix of over-the-top and subtle that is the exact same awesomely bad writing style that I loved about the first chapter of Varney, before inconvenient things like characters came into play.
JMR addresses the reader way too much (probably the trope I dislike the most about 19th century fiction) and goes on way too long about the ruins and how ruiny they are and oh by the way did I mention there are ruins, of course, in classic JMR fashion. But the scene with the prisoner is genuinely creepy, probably the creepiest scene in the book so far (including the appearances of Varney himself). If JMR hadn't felt the need to tack the "this is important, by the way, I will show you how important this is later" note at the end, he would have had a decent chapter instead of another unintentionally humorous one.