If I had to sum up Varney the Vampire so far in a single word, it would be "anticlimactic," and Chapter 32 (THE THOUSAND POUNDS. -- THE STRANGER'S PRECAUTIONS.) is no exception. First, JMR tries to build up suspense by introducing the situation in the previous chapter. Then he gives this introduction, which showcases Varney's fear of the stranger very well:
"Yes! yes!" gasped Varney; "admit him I know him! Bring him here? It is -- an -- old friend -- of mine."
He sank into a chair, and still he kept his eyes fixed upon that door through which his visitor must come. Surely some secret of dreadful moment must be connected with him whom Sir Francis expected -- dreaded -- and yet dared not refuse to see. And now a footstep approaches -- a slow and a solemn footstep -- it pauses a moment at the door of the apartment, and then the servant flings it open, and a tall man enters. He is enveloped in the folds of a horseman's cloak, and there is the clank of spurs upon his heels as he walks into the room.
Varney rose again, but he said not a word; and for a few moments they stood opposite each other in silence. The domestic has left the room, and the door is closed, so that there was nothing to prevent them from conversing; and, yet, silent they continued for some minutes. It seemed as if each was most anxious that the other should commence the conversation first.But then what do we find out? He's just this old guy, and the scary part is that Varney is forced to pay him one thousand pounds a year.
Okay, okay, so he has something to do with Varney's resurrection as a vampire, although JMR tries so hard to be coy about the fact ("Whether or not this man... knew him to be something more than earthly, we cannot at present declare..."). But... that's it? No more explanation of how Varney became a vampire? No scary vampire or other supernatural creator who made Varney, just some regular old human who gets his jollies by blackmailing vampires for large sums of money?
Even Varney isn't nearly as interesting in this chapter. His monologue sounds like a stock horror villain, more mad scientist than vampire. Maybe it's just the sudden fixation on money, rather than the supernatural, as what's keeping Varney alive that's making me draw that conclusion.
I do realize we have 200 chapters still to go, so I shouldn't get too impatient to learn about how vampirism actually works. But it would be nice if the setups in the next 200 chapters didn't all lead to huge letdowns.
Yes, I changed my blog design and layout again. I liked the flames, but they made it hard to read link text. I haven't really found a good background image that is both relevant and interesting, so we're stuck with whatever strikes my fancy.
Chapter 33: In Which Varney's Sympathetic Nature Comes to Light