The tenth part of my Varney the Vampire, or the Feast of Blood recap. Table of Contents below. Warning for swearing and sex jokes.
Meanwhile, the Bannerworth boys tell Hunky Boyfriend that they all need to stop scrounging off his uncle, Old Admiral, and it’s insulting their masculine pride that they can’t provide for themselves and maybe they should get jobs.
OMG, SEARCH THE WANT ADS LATER, HIMBOS. Y’ALLS HOUSE JUST GOT ROBBED BY A FELON VAMPIRE WHO TRIED TO MURDER YOUR DOCTOR FRIEND
They go through a box of old crap belonging to their father that they brought with them to their new cottage and find a card with the name ‘Count Barrare’ on it, and Henry knows him to be a famous gambler from 25 years ago. There’s a note that he either owes, or is owed, £25,000 by Henry’s father, but it’s unclear.
HENRY: Hey, guys, you both clearly know the backstory of my dad and his connection to Varney. Will you please tell me what’s going on?
HUNKY BOYFRIEND: No.
HENRY: Oh, okay, fair enough.
Meanwhile in the town, a young kid goes ‘Oh, hey, you remember how we killed Varney in the ruins and burned his body? Yeah, I saw him the other day, he’s not dead, sorry, probably should have said something sooner.’ Then the whole town gets in a murderous mood again.
Varney is shocked that the villagers able to find his back-up mansion. Query: how many isolated mansions are there within walking distance of this town? Because it really cannot be that many.
They break into the house and Varney confronts them valiantly with a staff, like he’s Gandalf fighting the fucking Balrog, why are we selling this guy as a hero now? He tried to murder someone about four hours ago.
There is an enormous chase/fight scene. This book should be retitled ‘Everyone just gets great cardio’. He leaves his backup mansion, escapes via a thicket, like Brer Rabbit, and runs and runs and runs until he crashes through the door of the first house he comes to—straight into the arms of Gothic Victim!
He begs for Gothic Victim’s help in hiding him, and she goes, ‘But of course!’ So Varney chills with the Bannerworth crew for a bit and then decides to recap the entire last chapter to us, for their benefit. Great. I needed a play-by-play of something I saw happen in real time.
He’s so chuffed to receive a friendly reception from them that his heart grows three sizes and the next day the book turns into a Jane Austen scene where everyone wishes each other a good morning and inquires about how well everyone slept.
That evening he gets all moody and repents his ways and feels really bad, so he decides to get all Romantic Poetry about it (what a tedious fucking night for the Bannerworths, listening to him muse philosophically, Jesus, I’d kick him out the door after the first hour), but then they’re interrupted when the villagers show up on their doorstep.
They break in, and Varney says, ‘I know they just kicked down your door and are flooding your house toting pitchforks, and tried to burn your last mansion before the military stopped them, but there is ONE PLACE that they would never dare profane—Gothic Victim’s bedroom! Hide me there!’
All the Bannerworths are scandalized by the suggestion, even though we literally opened the book by seeing Varney break into her bedroom and feast on her blood while she was IN BED, but they tut-tut about it while in the next room some while angry villagers rifle through closets and shit looking for Varney. They finally agree to hide Varney there. Yep, guess he’s totally safe.
The villagers, incredibly, go, ‘Well, we couldn’t possibly search a woman’s bedroom! That is just beyond the fucking pale!’ and they go away when they can’t find Varney in the rest of the house. Varney is so grateful that he decides to tell the Bannerworths the story of their father being a murderer. I don’t know what’s wrong with a nice thank you card, or maybe some money, but nope: his gift is familial shame.
He tells us the story of the murder AGAIN, and at this point I wouldn’t be surprised if he started retelling Varney the Vampyre from the beginning, in a full ouroboros of bullshit. I’m so, so glad I decided to spend my time in this cul-de-sac of relentless nincompoopery.
Varney says that Marmaduke Bannerworth cheated him out of the money they stole, in addition to the deeds of some property they stole off the corpse of that dude they murdered (did no one look into property transfers then? A guy goes missing and someone shows up saying they own his house now because they have possession of the deed?). Marmaduke killed himself from guilt, and Varney was the mysterious stranger who showed up the day of the suicide. It was after this point that Varney was found out for the murder, tried, executed, and brought back to life.
He then recaps the whole situation with the Doctor resuscitating him and his agreement with the Hangman—OH MY GOD, WE KNOW, GET ON WITH IT.
He finally gets to some new material: over the next several years, Varney has had the odd accident that should have killed him, but doesn’t, and he can’t understand why. He runs into a mysterious Hungarian who teaches him about vampire lore and says that vampires can’t be killed by normal human means, especially if they’re in the moonlight.
The Bannerworths ask why he looks so much like the ugly portrait of their ancestors and he says, ‘Oh, because I’m distantly related to you, and I wanted to scare you so I made myself up to look a bit more like that dude. Also, I did break into Gothic Victim’s bedroom that night on page 1, but I swear I never touched her in any way! She just fainted.’
And they all go, ‘Ok’, but I remember that home girl was covered in blood from a wound on her neck, and the third-person omniscient narrator said that he was ‘at his hideous repast’ so don’t try to rewrite history now, Author, you absolute fuck.
Varney then says he wasn’t able to find the money, but it’s probably still in the house and the Bannerworths have a right to have it (I mean, the guy they stole it from might have family who could use it, but no one seems to have moral objections so, fine).
Varney spends the next several days hiding in their cottage and, from his trials and tribulations he grows sick in body and mind. They spend a long time talking about trees and meadows. This chapter is 80 years long.
Then one day a carriage pulls up to the cottage, and it’s some London police officers looking for Varney, who rushes them and escapes. This book is nothing but foot chases, and I am DONE with it. Anyway, he runs off and the officers explain that they’ve finally caught on to the failed execution.
For reasons that escape me, after the officers leave and an exhausted Varney returns to the house, the Bannerworths decide to go dig up their father and see if he was buried with the treasure from the robbery. They find the deed to that estate Varney mentioned.
This chapter is longer than 10 or 12 normal chapters in the rest of this book.
The Hungarian nobleman is having a good, recuperative moonlight swim. A ferryman thinks he’s drowning and rescues him, and the ferryman brings him back to his house to spend the night there with his family.
The Hungarian nobleman goes, ‘Your daughter’s hot. How old is she?’
She’ll turn 17 on Halloween, which isn’t at all a giant aphrodisiac to the man. He says to repay them for their hospitality, he’ll return on her birthday to give them a gift (which may or may not be his penis).
They all go to bed and in the middle of the night the daughter starts screaming that she’s been attacked, and the household wakes to find the girl covered in teeth marks that haven’t quite punctured her skin. The ferryman is like, ‘ARE YOU A VAMPIRE?’ and the Hungarian says no.
The ferryman picks him up, carries him back to the river, throws him in and watches him drown.
Wow, so close to a feast of blood, and yet so far.
The doctor decides to go search Bannerworth Hall alone, in the middle of the night, purely because the author clearly needs to get him in that situation and can’t figure out how to do it more gracefully.
We stop for AGES to have the Doctor overhear two sailors in town talk about their own drama that is utterly tangential to anything (hey, we haven’t had a story-within-a-story in a while, so). He goes into Bannerworth Hall and checks out the creepy picture of their ancestor.
Just as he’s about to touch the portrait, it springs open on a hinge (it was a secret door the whole time!) and out pops a stranger, who immediately starts wrestling with the Doctor. The Doctor almost loses, but then the little sailor buddy pops up out of nowhere and helps beat the stranger up. The stranger runs away.
The Bannerworths, meanwhile, are all fine because they found the deed to that other estate. To my mind, this doesn’t mean they have more money now–it just means they now have two dilapidated giant houses to care for and staff. And never mind the fact that we seem to have lost two family members: the mother and the younger brother haven’t been mentioned in dozens of chapters. Did they die, or…?
The Doctor’s wife shows up at the Bannerworth Cottage looking for her husband, who’s currently being attacked in Bannerworth Hall. She gets into a domestic squabble with the Bannerworths.
Varney, meanwhile, has just written ‘The Farewell of Varney the Vampyre’ on a piece of paper (which, I would like to point out, isn’t actually a farewell, but rather the title to an even shitter book than this one), and he’s packed up and left. Well that’s gratitude for you.
Meanwhile, the Doctor and the little sailor buddy are sitting in Bannerworth Hall thinking, ‘What the fuck just happened?’ The Doctor decides that, since everyone seems so drawn to the creepy portrait, he should take it from the house and carry it to Bannerworth cottage. He does (it takes FOREVER, lots of logistics), and just as he’s about to knock on the cottage door, someone attacks him and runs off with the painting.
We only have four chapters left, and I’ve got no clue how they’re going to wrap it up in time—especially because the one thing I do know about this book is that Varney ends up in Italy and we are still very much in England, mucking about in this one neighbourhood’s bullshit.
WE FINALLY GO TO A NEW TOWN, a place called Anderbury. We’re introduced to a whole new family (oh no stop please stop) called the Milltowns, and they’re a noble, rich family that had something weird happen a while back. It’s only described by the author as ‘an epidemic disorder’, whatever that means, which spread from the servants to tangential relatives, to the family itself, until no one was left alive except one son.
The son, unsurprisingly, got super depressed and decided to sell his house and go abroad. This fancy-ass Baron drives up to the abandoned Milltown Manor to buy it.
The Baron is creepy and foreign and probably a vampire, and we spend way too much time discussing what he might want for dinner.
Fuck my life. Fuck it long, fuck it hard.
A stranger (STOP. INTRODUCING. NEW. CHARACTERS.) visits the Baron in his new digs, says he knows about the Baron’s secret, and blackmails him for £5,000. Is the Baron the Hungarian nobleman? Is it Varney? Is it someone else? I don’t fucking know, we are 2.5 chapters from the end and no closer to wrapping anything up.
The Baron stabs the stranger and dumps his body in a pit—although the author is sure to mention moonbeams shining on the watery pit, so I guess this dude is less dead than the Baron thinks.
Two chapters left, what a nightmare.
The Doctor tells the Bannerworths that he thinks the money was hidden in the back lining of the portrait, and rather than take the money out at the house and give it to them, he stupidly carried the entire fucking painting across the countryside.
They’re like, ‘Oh, well, maybe it’s better off that it was stolen, because is it right for us to profit from our father’s ill-gotten gains?’ I mean, you didn’t have a problem with it before, and you’re happy to take the deed to that new estate you found, so.
The Doctor says, ‘You know what we should do? Find and CRUSH Varney, because even though we’re friends now, who else knew about it and disappeared as soon as the portrait went missing? He’s our enemy again.’
Everyone else goes, ‘Or nah. We have Gothic Victim and Hunky Boyfriend’s wedding to plan!’
It’s finally revealed that Varney had been the one who, waaaay at the beginning of the novel, sent the forged letter from the attorney to the Old Admiral saying Hunky Boyfriend was mixed up with Gothic Victim: The Wrong Sort of Woman. Wow, I’d completely forgotten that plot line. They brush it under the carpet because that was just one of Varney’s jolly japes back when he was the baddy.
We spend an inordinately long time discussing what the Old Admiral is going to wear to the wedding and what sorts of people they should invite.
IS THIS REALLY HOW YOU WANT TO SPEND THE PENULTIMATE CHAPTER, MY GOOD DUDE?
Good thing there are no loose threads to wrap up in the last 5 pages, oh wait
In the next town over, no one suspects the Baron of having murdered that dude. The Baron does some sightseeing. Another new dude (we’re in the last chapter, you hateful bitch) named Sir John Westlake turns up wanting to rent the same house that the Baron is trying to rent.
While going over the estate with the letting agent, they discover the dead body in the pit (wow, so glad we had that whole diatribe about moonlight which came to nothing). The Baron is like, ‘Well obviously a man of my rank could never rent an estate where a murder’s been committed, also you’ll probably be suspected of the murder, letting agent, since you had access to the property, sorry and byyyyyyye.’
They open up an inquest into the murder. The Baron decides he would like to marry, and the woman he would like to marry is … Gothic Victim. *thunderclap*
My version of the book just stops there.
I’ve checked on Project Gutenberg and their version stops there, too.
WHAT THE HELL
I was always told that the book ends when Varney throws himself into Mount Vesuvius. Do I only have half of the book? Is there a sequel? This is the worst thing that has ever happened on my blog, or in my academic career, or in my life as an avid reader.
QUESTIONS THIS NEVER ANSWERS/ISSUES IT NEVER RESOLVES:
- Was Varney actually a vampire, or a dude who had something else mysterious happen to him because of post-execution science, or just a dude who sometimes pretended he had supernatural powers?
- What was Uncle Marchdale’s motivation for betraying them? What did he even want?
- Who is this Hungarian guy, what did he want, and did he die?
- Who was the Baron, and who was the guy blackmailing the Baron?
- What happened to Mother and Younger Brother Bannerworth?
- Who vamped on the Ferryman’s daughter, if not the Hungarian?
- Why was the coffin of one of the Bannerworth ancestors empty?
- Why was the coffin of the fat-skinny baker empty?
- Did Varney actually love Gothic Victim? He seemed to forget about it pretty quick.
- Why did they kidnap, and then release, Hunky Boyfriend?
- Why, after his release, did Hunky Boyfriend have to wait at the ruins for an hour?
- How did Varney disappear out of thin air, recover from gunshot wounds, etc., but only sometimes? Was it vampire-related, or did his house have trap doors, and were just people bad shots?
- Are the police officers hunting Varney just never going to come back because he managed to escape them that time?
- What was that mysterious affliction that plagued the family in Anderbury?
- How does the Baron know Gothic Victim?
Everyone can fuck off, I’m going to go rage-bake something now. I hate you all. Good day.