Wuthering Bitesby Sarah Gray
What if the enigmatic hero of one of our most timeless love stories was part vampire? The answer lies in this haunting retelling of the classic tale of Catherine and Heathcliff, kindred spirits bound by a turbulentand now forbiddenpassion...
When a young orphan named Heathcliff is brought to Wuthering Heights by the manor's owner, Mr. Earnshaw, rumors
What if the enigmatic hero of one of our most timeless love stories was part vampire? The answer lies in this haunting retelling of the classic tale of Catherine and Heathcliff, kindred spirits bound by a turbulentand now forbiddenpassion...
When a young orphan named Heathcliff is brought to Wuthering Heights by the manor's owner, Mr. Earnshaw, rumors abound. Yet the truth is more complicated than anyone could guess. Heathcliff's mother was a member of a gypsy band that roamed the English countryside, slaying vampires to keep citizens safe. But his father was a vampire. Now, even as Heathcliff gallantly fights the monsters who roam the moors in order to protect beautiful, spirited Catherine Earnshaw, he is torn by compassion for his victimsand by his own dark thirst.
Though Catherine loves Heathcliff, she fears the vampire in him, and is tempted by the privileged lifestyle their neighbors, the Lintons, enjoy. Forced to choose between wealthy, refined Edgar Linton and the brooding, increasingly dangerous Heathcliff, she makes a fateful decision. And soon Heathcliff, too, must choosebetween his hunger, and the woman he will love for all eternity...
Another literary classic is hijacked by toothy interlopers, this time courtesy of Gray, aka romance novelist Colleen Faulkner.
The formula is simple: Take a classic in the public domain and appropriate most of the author's prose, sprinkling in references throughout to the ghouldu jour. While Jane Austen's ironic worldview lends itself to horror spoofing (think books like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, 2009), Wuthering Heights is "dead" serious. Gray reiterates, more or less verbatim, large chunks of Emily Brontë's prose, interspersing various references to vampires, a plague of which has apparently been running rampant on the same Yorkshire moors trod by Heathcliff and his eternal love, Catherine Earnshaw. The structure and major plot elements of the original are kept intact. Nelly, a housekeeper who served both the Earnshaws and the Lintons, Brontë's fatefully linked fictional families, relates the history of Heathcliff, Catherine and their descendants and siblings to a tenant who has come to occupy Catherine's former marital home, the Grange. Heathcliff, a gypsy orphan brought home by Mr. Earnshaw, patriarch of Wuthering Heights manor, grows up with the Earnshaw siblings, Hindley and Catherine. Although Catherine and Heathcliff are childhood playmates and soul mates, she capriciously decides to marry their closest neighbor's son, milquetoast Edgar Linton of the Grange. Her defection launches Heathcliff on a path of revenge—he marries Edgar's sister Isabella out of spite—that will end only with tragic early deaths, and the virtual enslavement by Heathcliff of Hindley's son Hareton, his own son Linton and Catherine's daughter Cathy. Heathcliff's depravity makes him a difficult character to elicit sympathy for, but somehow Brontë manages this. Not so Gray in this mashup, where the main focus of suspense is whether Heathcliff, a known vampire slayer, is himself among the undead. Will Cathy, secretly training to be the first female vampire slayer, be his nemesis? Anecdotes describing mayhem perpetrated by the bloodsuckers lend a disconcerting layer of gallows humor to the proceedings.
Heathcliff without fangs is scary enough.
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By SARAH GRAY
KENSINGTON BOOKSCopyright © 2010 Colleen Faulkner
All right reserved.
I've just returned from a visit with my landlord-the solitary neighbor, rumor has it, is a vampire. It is truly a pity, really, this infestation of unholy bloodsuckers, because this is certainly a beautiful country, the moors of England. I do not think I could have picked a place more solitary or removed from the stir of society. It is a perfect misanthrope's heaven ... at least it will be so long as I do not have the misfortune of being bitten by said neighbor-or any of the other unnatural beasties that roam the countryside.
I think Mr. Heathcliff and I are a suitable pair to share this desolation. A capital fellow! I do not think he realized how my heart warmed to him when I beheld his suspicious black eyes as I rode up. Who knows? Maybe we are both the subject of unfounded rumor and he has been warned that I am vampire!
As he stared at me, I asked, "Mr. Heathcliff?"
"Mr. Lockwood, your tenant, sir." And most unquestionably not a vampire, I thought, but did not say. "I do myself the honor of calling as soon as possible after my arrival. I hope I did not inconvenience you when I persevered to solicit occupation of Thrushcross Grange. I-"
"I do not allow anyone to inconvenience me if I can prevent it," he interrupted. "Walk in!"
His last words seemed expressed with the sentiment May your flesh be sucked dry and the hair rose on the back of my neck. But despite the inkling of fear for wonder if the rumors about him could possibly be true, I was curious enough of his reserved nature to follow his bidding.
"Joseph, take Mr. Lockwood's horse," he ordered as we entered the court.
Joseph was an old man, though hale and sinewy. His skin was paler than the palest moon and his eyes red, rimmed in dark shadows. Around his neck, he wore a long scarf that he tied high beneath his ear, a peculiar accessory, indeed, for a manservant.
"The Lord help us!" he whined, taking my horse. Why we needed the Lord's help I was unsure, but I dared not speculate.
Wuthering Heights is the name of Mr. Heathcliff's dwelling, though I have heard that all in the countryside refer to it as Wuthering Bites. A poor, unimaginative jest, I know. "Wuthering" is an adjective referring to the atmospheric tumult to which the house is exposed in stormy weather. By the look of the excessive slant of a few stunted firs and tangled briars at the end of the house, I can only guess at the power of the north wind that must blow over the edge. Happily, the architect had the foresight to build the structure strong; the narrow windows are set deep in the wall and the corner is defended by large, jutting stones.
Before I passed the threshold into the house, I paused to admire the grotesque carving lavished over the front of the principal door. Among crumbling griffins and what appeared to be cloaked figures, their faces obscured, I detected the date "1500" and the name "Hareton Earnshaw." Curiosity tempted me to ask about the history of the place from my surly, pale-skinned, black-haired owner, but his curt attitude at the door suggested he wished a speedy entrance or complete departure, so I hurried after him.
Without a lobby or passage, one step took us into the family sitting room. They called it "the house." It included the parlor and the kitchen in the back, from where I could distinguish a chatter of tongues and a clatter of culinary utensils. At one end of the parlor stood the massive fireplace, flanked by ranks of pewter dishes that reflected both light and heat, interspersed with jugs and tankards. On a vast oak dresser was a frame of wood laden with oat cakes and clusters of legs of beef, mutton, and ham.
They say vampires take no nourishment but blood, so the sight of the feast encouraged me. Surely the sign of abundant foodstuffs was proof enough that the master was no such creature! ... Unless the spread was meant to disarm and persuade me that all here was as it should be in a decent household.
Above the chimney were sundry villainous old guns, a couple of horse pistols, and three gaudily painted canisters on the ledge. The floor was smooth, white stone unsoiled, I noted, by bloodstains; the chairs, high-back, primitive structures painted green. In the arch under the dresser was a huge liver-colored bitch pointer, surrounded by a swarm of squealing puppies, and more dogs haunted other recesses.
The parlor and furniture would have been nothing extraordinary for a simple northern farmer among these hills and moors, but Mr. Heathcliff formed a contrast to his abode. Despite his dark-haired, dark-eyed gypsy looks, in dress and manners he seems a gentleman country squire. By his appearance, some might suspect a degree of underbred pride; gypsies are known for such arrogance, and I wonder if he could be one of them. Since the infestation of the vampires, the gypsy vampire slayers have become bold in their haughtiness. With some right, as it is their skill and courage that keep the beasties from devouring all of us and taking over our fair country. But I am running too fast, bestowing attributes on Mr. Heathcliff that might be unfounded.
I took a seat at the end of the hearthstone opposite my landlord and filled up the interval of silence by attempting to caress the pointer bitch that had left her pups and was sneaking wolfishly to the back of my legs.
My caress provoked a long, guttural snarl. At closer glance, I saw that this creature was half again as large as one of her kind, with great ivory fangs and a fierce eye. Her throat, I noted, was protected by a thick leather collar studded with spikes, no doubt to keep her from being drained of blood by a vampire.
"You better let the dog alone," growled Mr. Heathcliff, punctuating his words with a punch of his foot. "She's not a pet!"
He strode to a side door and shouted again. "Joseph!"
The old man mumbled indistinctly from the depths of the cellar but gave no suggestion of ascending, so his master went down, leaving me with the monstrous bitch and a pair of sheepdogs.
Not anxious to come in contact with their fangs-or anyone's, for that matter-I sat still. Unfortunately, I indulged myself by making a face at the dog, and she broke into a fury and leapt for my throat. I hastened to put the dining table between us, this action rousing the whole pack. Half a dozen four-footed fiends of various sizes and ages issued from their hidden dens and I felt my heels and coat-laps subjects of assault. I parried off the larger dogs as effectually as I could with a fireplace poker, but was forced to call for assistance from the household when a yipping terrier slipped beneath my guard and latched onto my knee. He was hedgehog small but keen of tooth, and I felt each tiny dagger dig into my flesh until warm drops of blood ran down my boot.
Mr. Heathcliff and his henchman climbed the steps, slow as molasses running off a block of ice. Fortunately, an inhabitant of the kitchen came running; a lusty dame with tucked-up gown, bare arms, and flushed cheeks rushed into the midst of us, flourishing a frying pan, and used the weapon to such purpose that the storm magically subsided, leaving her heaving like a sea after a high wind when her master entered the scene.
"What the devil is the matter?" he asked, eyeing me in a manner I could barely endure after such inhospitable treatment.
"What the devil, indeed," I muttered, collapsing into a chair, trying to pry the still-clinging terrier from my wounded knee. "A herd of possessed swine has better manners than those animals of yours, sir. You might as well leave a stranger in a hive of vampires!"
He put a bottle of spirits down in front of me. "The hounds do right to be vigilant. We all do, considering what roams the moors. A glass of wine?"
"No, thank you." The terrier released my knee long enough to bite my thumb and went back to the knee with undisguised glee.
"Not bitten, are you?"
"By the son of Lucifer!" I replied, trying to shake the little dog off. "If blood loss be any measure-"
"Vampire bitten," Heathcliff corrected.
I could not suppress a shudder, as I knew the meaning of the phrase was far broader these days than it had once been. "If I had been, I would have set my silver dagger on the biter," I responded, laying my hand on its sheath at my waist, my meaning equally broader than it might once have been.
In these times of roaming vampires, both gentlemen and gentlewomen had taken to carrying weapons to fend the beasties off. Pure silver made up for the small size of the dagger and my lack of vampire fighting skills, I was assured by the salesman when I made the purchase in London. Well worth the extraordinary cost, I was promised.
The vicious terrier continued to rend my poor knee until the kitchen wench with her flushed cheeks and noble frying pan put her fingers to her lips and emitted a sharp whistle. The canine fury's pointed ears perked up and his gaze fixed on the skinned rabbit the dame dangled from one hand. With one final nip, the dog unclenched its jaw and dove for the rabbit. She sliced off the head and tossed it, bringing all the hounds to full cry and chase. The small devil that had so harried me reached the meat a paw's length ahead of the pointer bitch and carried his prize to the top of a sideboard and hence to a lofty shelf to devour the bunny head, to the sorrow of those companions left supperless.
Heathcliff's countenance relaxed into a grin, surprising me. "A noble beast. A first-rate terrier. I've lost count of his bloodsucker kills. Of course, his mother was a badger, his father a noble hunter of vermin. Still, I doubt you've seen the like in your travels."
"No, I can't say I have." I unwound my second-best stock from my neck and used it to stanch the worst of the bleeding.
"Come, come, you are flurried, Mr. Lockwood. You look pale."
The massive pointer bitch had crept closer to lap up the droplets on the floor around my boots. "I have lost blood," I pointed out.
"Naught but a spoon or two. Nothing to grouse about. Take a little wine. Welcome guests are so rare in this house that I and my dogs hardly know how to receive them. To your health, sir!"
I bowed, beginning to realize it would be foolish to sit and sulk over the misbehavior of a few curs and unwilling to yield my host further amusement at my expense.
He-probably persuaded by the realization he should not offend a good tenant-relaxed a little and introduced a subject of interest to me, my present state of retirement. I found him very intelligent, and before I went home, I volunteered another visit tomorrow. He evidently, however, wished no further intrusion and expressed such.
It is astonishing how sociable I feel myself compared to him.
Chapter TwoThe next afternoon set in so misty and cold that I had half a mind to spend it by my study fire instead of wading through mud, risking my life in tempting the demons that course the moors-to Wuthering Heights.
Walking down the hall with this lazy intention, I spotted a serving girl on her knees and stepped into the room thinking I might greet her. Settled in front of the fireplace, she was surrounded by brushes and coal scuttles and raising an infernal dust as she extinguished flames with heaps of cinders. When she looked up, startled by my intrusion on her work, I noticed two distinguishing puncture marks on her pale neck. The spectacle drove me back through the doorway, and she watched with the oddest little smile on her face.
I resolved to place a chair in front of my bedchamber door at night and keep a vigilant eye on this saucy jade. It was well-known that maidens of the lower sort often traded virtue for the thrill of sexual congress with the fanged ones. Male vampires were said to possess extraordinary physical attributes such as to render foolish females incapable of moral judgment. Who knew if she was an innocent seized on her way home from church or a lusty wench who sought her own downfall among the beasts? In any case, she would bear watching, and if I sensed anything amiss, she would find herself dismissed without a letter of recommendation. She might be happier dancing half naked and exposing her slender throat in some vampire-friendly tavern than emptying chamber pots in an honest man's house.
Without lingering, I took my hat and made the four-mile walk to Wuthering Heights. Fortunately, on my journey, I encountered no sign of cloaked and bloodthirsty predators. In fact, I had not seen one since my arrival. Just as I made my way to the garden gate, however, I thought I spied what seemed to be shadows of the enemy through the first feathery flakes of a snow-shower.
On that bleak hill-top, the earth was hard with black frost and the air made me shiver through every limb as I blinked, unsure if the shadows were real or mirage. Vampire or swaying grass? Unwilling to wait out the answer, I ran up the causeway and knocked for admittance, keeping a look over my shoulder.
When there came no immediate answer from within save for the howl of dogs, I grasped the latch and shook it vehemently. Vinegar-faced Joseph projected his head from a round window of the barn.
"What ye want?" he shouted, adjusting the scarf around his neck. "Go round if ye want the master."
"Is there no one to open the door?" I responded, looking again over my shoulder. Yes, something was definitely there ... and there! I recalled the poor maid's wound and went on faster. "Open to me, Joseph, for pity's sake! 'Tis not safe for man untrained in vampire repelling to stand out in this weather."
"There's nobody but the missus, and she'll not open the door. Not for King Georgie himself."
"Why?" I peered up at him, shivering inside my coat. "Can't you tell her who I am?"
The head vanished and I was left in the snow, which had begun to drive thickly. I had the sense that I was being watched, a feeling so strong that I feared to turn and look over my shoulder. I had just seized the door handle to give another try when a young man shouldering a pitchfork appeared in the yard behind. He hailed me to follow him, and I, glad for flesh and bone of any human kind, trailed after him through a washhouse and a paved area containing a coal shed, pump, and pigeon cote. I gave a sigh of relief as we arrived in the warm, cheery apartment and I was formally received.
The room glowed delightfully with the radiance of an immense fire built from coal, peat, and wood. Near the table, laid for a plentiful meal, I was pleased to observe the "missus," whose existence I had not previously suspected.
I bowed and waited for her to offer me a seat, quite relieved to have arrived unscathed. Leaned back in her chair, she looked at me, remaining motionless and mute.
"Rough weather and beasties lurking!" I remarked. "I'm afraid, Mrs. Heathcliff, I had to work hard to make myself heard at the door. It was a near thing."
She never opened her mouth and I glanced at her neck, wondering if, like the maid at Thrushcross, she had fallen victim to one of the vampires I thought I had seen in the snowing mist. She kept her eyes on me in a cool, regardless manner. I saw no bite marks, but that was no guarantee; women in particular were good at hiding them when they wished to.
"Sit down," said the young man gruffly. "He'll be in soon."
I obeyed, keeping one eye on Mrs. Heathcliff while calling the villain canine, Juno, the pointer bitch, who moved the extreme tip of her tail in token of owning my acquaintance. To my relief, the tiny terror was nowhere in sight.
"A beautiful animal," I commenced. "Do you intend parting with the pups, madam?"
"They are not mine," said the hostess, more unkindly than Heathcliff himself could have replied. "You should not have come. It is not safe." She rose, reaching for the mantel for two of the painted canisters. "Vampires are thick on these moors on such sunless days."
As if one needed reminding....
Her position before was sheltered from the light; now, I had a distinct view of her figure and countenance. She was slender and barely past girlhood, an admirable form and the most exquisite little face I have ever had the pleasure of beholding. With flaxen ringlets hanging loose on her delicate neck, she had small features that, had they been in agreeable expression, would have been irresistible. Fortunately for my susceptible heart, the only sentiment they evoked hovered somewhere between scorn and a kind of desperation.
The canisters were almost out of reach, and I made a motion to aid her.
Excerpted from Wuthering Bites by SARAH GRAY Copyright © 2010 by Colleen Faulkner. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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I first read the original Wuthering Heights in Middle School, I continued to revisit the novel throughout high school, college, and now well into my adulthood I find it is a wonderful read. This novel is a great play on the original Bronte work. I found it an easy read (which is great for the young reader) but detailed enough that it kept the interest of an adult. It is fun, creative and worth checking out! If you loved the original Bronte work then you should read Sarah Gray's version. It is always fun to revisit old character in a new way! This book does just that!
Mr. Earnshaw finds the Gypsy orphan Heathcliff and brings him home. His daughter Catherine has mixed emotions over the newcomer in the household. On the one hand she is fascinated with Heathcliff and glad her father is so kind; but on the other hand she is shallow and upset with her father for losing her present when he stopped to talk with the lad. Catherine and Heathcliff grow up together as close friends. However, Catherine knows their relationship must end as they are unrelated and she behaves with the prim and proper deportment expected of an unmarried young woman at the turn of the century. Heathcliff is also pulling away as he begins to understand his split warring desires as a half-breed paternal vampire and maternal vampire slayer. She turns to proper affluent Edgar Linton as more appropriate for her then her childhood friend. This is an entertaining retelling of the Bronte classic turning the cause of the mental torment of Heathcliff into a schizoid paranormal tendency as his heritage is at war inside his head. Converting Heathcliff into a half vampire and half slayer comes across as plausible while Catherine remains true to the original. However, the story line lacks the amusing biting irony that these parodies need to avoid the question why not just read the original; although Wuthering Bites is a fine reenactment. Harriet Klausner
SPIRITRANE: Let me start off by saying how much I love Bronte's orginal story, Heathcliff (as mean and hateful as he had become) is one of my great literary loves. With that said I really did like this book, you can not really take it all too seriously because it is a paroty of the original. It is a fun book to curl up with on a cold snowy day or a cloudy rainy one. Do not take it too seriously it is not the greatest of literary pieces, and it is about Vampires you know. lol Sit back and have a bit of reading fun just this once....ENJOY! But dont get me wrong Heathcliff is still a mean sot in this just now he has fangs. Blessed Be.
The original was 10 times better. The added or changed parts of this book didn't flow smoothly and detracted from the message of the novel. This book doesn't even have the decency to give credit to the original author, Emily Bronte, even though many parts of the book are word for word.
just uhh well, im sorry I can't even put into words how horrid this book is. Geez and the writing skill? yea no
The author seems to tire of a thesaurus halfway through, and the term "blood sucker" begins to be used on nearly every page. The love between Cathy & Heathcliff is poorly undermined, and other unimportant relationships are exaggerated. I'm no author, but my feeling after reading Wuthering Bites is more along the lines of "Why not let Cathy live on as a vampire until Heathcliff's death?" THAT would've been an interesting twist. It just felt like the author was satisfied to simply interject a vampire (aka "blood sucker") here and there, rather than brainstorm a plot twist or two. I'll stick to my beloved original Wuthering Heights from here on out.
nobody read this book dang