Part VI of the #13DaysofHorror Instagram Challenge
Monster stories are an essential element of the horror genre. They are a fictional way to sum up what we fear most. Monsters—vampires, zombies, krakens, aliens—do not play by human rules. They are governed by primal needs and will not stop until they are met. This is why they are so terrifying. That being said, here are a few of my favorite monster reads.
I featured M is for Monsters in my other post, Pomegranate Martini (Vampire Stories). So, I will be focusing on the other pictured classics, Frankenstein and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Two books that need no introduction. Instead, I will provide you with a bit of backstory.
Frankenstein was published in 1818 by Mary Shelley when she was only eighteen-years-old. The novel is a result of a private competition between Shelley and her friend, Lord Byron, to see who could write the better horror story. Shelley was already fascinated by the work of alchemist Johann Konrad Dipple who believed he could bring a person back from the dead by injecting them with new blood and bone. During the early 1800s, the idea of animating limbs with electricity was also popular among the scientific community. These two ideas were most likely the biggest inspiration behind Frankenstein considering Victor Frankenstein uses both animal bones and high voltage electricity to give his creature life. I learned in a college literature class that Shelley started with this scene (the animation of the monster) before going back and writing the beginning and then the end of the novel. After Frankenstein was published, Shelley quickly became an icon in the horror and literature community with her work going on the inspire countless stories, T.V. shows and, of course, movie adaptations. Quick fun fact: the famous, "It's alive!" shriek from Victor Frankenstein was never written in the book. Victor actually faints when the monster awakens.
Who shall conceive the horrors of my secret toil, as I dabbled among the unhallowed damps of the grave, or tortured the living animal to animate the lifeless clay?
-Mary Shelley (Frankenstein)
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a novella published in 1886 by Robert Louis Stevenson. Stevenson was inspired to write this story due to his fascination with good and evil. What better way to represent this theme than by creating a character that can slip between both extremes. In case you’re unfamiliar with the plot: Dr. Jekyll is a scientist who creates a serum that separates the good and evil aspects of his personality. When he drinks the potion, he transforms into the very evil Mr. Hyde. What starts as an innocent experiment becomes uncontrollable. Soon Dr. Jekyll begins changing into Mr. Hyde without the potion's aid. The book was marketed as a thriller and received with great success. It went on to inspire T.V., movie, and stage adaptions. The phrase “Jekyll and Hyde” is even in the dictionary, used to describe people or things that are dual in nature. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is one of my favorite classic horror novels. I feel it is often outshined by Frankenstein and Dracula which is why I wanted to spotlight it in this prompt. Although it may not be an obvious monster story, I think you can argue that with the creation of the evil Mr. Hyde, Dr. Jekyll inadvertently makes one of the evilest monsters in history.
I chose to pair these books with this delicious Blackberry Vanilla Cocktail. The blackberries stain this drink a beautiful dark purple making it the perfect color for Halloween themed cocktails. Serve this in a scientist’s flask (like I did) to tie in the mad-scientists-creating-monsters theme.
Blackberry Vanilla Cocktail
Yield: 1 serving
Total Time: 15 minutes
What You Need:
- 2 tablespoons vanilla simple syrup (recipe below)
- 1 ounce blackberry juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1.5 ounces vodka
- 1.5 ounces club soda
What You Do:
1. For vanilla simple syrup: In a small saucepan combine ½ cup water, ½ cup sugar, and 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract. Stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Pour into a small jar and let cool to room temperature.
2. Meanwhile, press 12 blackberries with a spoon through a sieve (collecting juice without seeds).
3. Add blackberry juice, lemon juice, simple syrup, and vodka to a rocks glass filled with ice. Give it a stir then top with club soda.
“I learned to recognize the thorough and primitive duality of man; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both.
-Robert Louis Stevenson (Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde)