Lair of the White Worm

05/04/2009 § 3 Comments

Your God is your great kite, which cows the birds of a whole district.

-Mimi Salton

Lair of the White Worm is Bram Stoker’s final novel before he died in 1912. I was particularly excited about this book after learning it was based on the legend of the Lambton Worm. The lambton worm (or Wyrm) is of course an antediluvian beast that wreaked havoc on the English countryside (something I am one day looking forward to doing…and something my good freind Mikey is currently doing).

I haven’t read all of Stoker, but I really like Dracula, at least it’s main elements. I don’t care for its epistolary format and the way in which it reads, i.e. kind of slow. Maybe it’s the format. Maybe it’s just me. But I liked it nonetheless.

And I didn’t love Lair of the White Worm but I did really like it. I can overlook all of the books faults, such as introducing characters and then forgetting about them completely, only to have them return in the final pages. I can overlook deus ex machina. I can overlook the (as is typical in this genre and time period) less than generous portrayals of woman and minorities.

I can overlook final paragraphs like

“I think it is quite time you young people departed for that honeymoon of yours! -There was a twinkle in his eyes as he spoke. -Mimi’s soft shy glance at her husband, was sufficient answer.”

I enjoy happy endings as much as anyone, maybe more, but c’mon.

I can forget about these things because the book has so many wonderful ideas; the ancient beast living in the English countryside, a kite that becomes sentient (at least to one maniac) who receives scheming messages up it’s long umbilical, Scanner-style psychic battles…..&tc. Unfortunately in the end they don’t really work together. Any one of those would be sufficient for a single novel. Perhaps it just needed to be beefed up. It’s a mere 210 pages.

A brief synopsis:

The White Worm has evolved somewhat and can roam about as a woman name Lady Arabella, with some level of scanner-power. She slinks around in white dresses seductively. She is trying to marry this rich guy….to prove once again women, even ones that have evolved from antediluvian creatures all want a rich man.

Adam Salton returns to England from Australia to reclaim his estate. He joins his uncle and his uncle’s friend in the battle against this scourge that nobody else seems to know about. Then a random stranger comes from Africa with a servant who also has scanner-like powers. There is a pair of cousins who are beautiful…also, with scanner-like powers.

The uncle is introduced and then ignored until the final pages of the book. The only explanation being, he is too old and infirm to be swept up in the intrigue and final battle with the worm. Which, I must say is the biggest disappointment. There is no real final battle. The Giant Kite is incorporated (I must say I was worried it would not be brought back for the finale), as is the madman who sends it letters up the wire. Then there is a scene very reminiscent of Tremors.

(“What the hell is going on! I mean, what the HELL is going on!”)
It’s worth it just to read it with Tremors and Kevin Bacon in the back of your mind.

A redeeming element in the book, considering it’s portrayal of woman as evil (Lady Arabella/White Worm), and helpless (all other women in the book), is that a woman does stand up to the maniac who flies his kite and the white worm (scanner-style). So that’s awesome. But then, she is named “Mimi.” Ugh. Barf.

So I don’t know. Totally unorganized post. But I just finished it and haven’t had time to let it stew in my brainpot. I liked it. It’s a quick read.

And the title is awesome.

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§ 3 Responses to Lair of the White Worm

  • Jerry says:

    “I think it is quite time you young people departed for that honeymoon of yours! -There was a twinkle in his eyes as he spoke. -Mimi’s soft shy glance at her husband, was sufficient answer.” I enjoy happy endings as much as anyone, maybe more, but c’mon.

    ¿ I’ve seen you get a twinkle in your eye when you talk about Hattie. And goat cheese. So give him a break. Let history be “quaint”. >:0

  • Dan P says:

    I just finished listening to an audiobook of this. Your review is almost identical to mine: it has some great ideas but the execution is confused. But the kite was genius. Pity that subplot didn’t seem to lead anywhere. I think another author needs to take it and run with it.

    And don’t miss the movie.

    • Nick says:

      Wow. Thanks for the movie recommendation. Sounds a lot different. But 80’s Hugh Grant should be super fun.

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