THE SNAKE. F. Inglis Powell.

THE SNAKE. London: John Lane The Bodley Head. New York: John Lane Company, [1912]. Octavo, pp. [1-8] 1-303 [304] + [24]-pages of undated ads at rear, original purple cloth, front panel stamped in blind, spine panel in gold and blind, fore and bottom edges untrimmed. First edition. Later issue; title leaf a cancel, advertisements at rear include releases as late as 1914. Weird thriller set in India at the time of the Mutiny; Anglo-Indian Kali worshipper can transfer soul into giant cobra, wreaks havoc. "A romantic triangle furnishes the core of the plot. Diana is the ‘other woman’, a wild and willful redhead who has been neglected by an invalid mother and preoccupied father and raised by an indulgent native nanny. When her passion for the hero is unrequited she turns to the nanny for help. She, in turn, enlists the help of a local yogi who uses the girl as an instrument for revenge on the girl’s family. To do this, he initiates her into the cult of Kali, first making her offer human flesh to a Nameless Thing, then showing her how to migrate her soul into the body of a giant cobra that subsequently terrorizes the village, eventually killing Diana’s father and mother. Even after the girl and the snake are both killed, her soul remains potent in the embalmed snake, able to jump into the body of any living woman who comes near it. ‘Vampire-like it would feed and gain strength at the expense of its victim, and thus continue in its cycle of evil and destruction.’ The snake must be burnt and its ashes scattered to remove danger from the village. Set in mid-Victorian Anglo-India around the time of the Mutiny, this reads as if it were written then as well: a serving of standard commercial fiction spiced with a curry of Indian magic and murder, filled with novelistic clichés of the time but with just enough red meat for the fantasy connoisseur to prevent it from being entirely irrelevant. Indeed, if more of the book were written like chapter six, it would be a considerable work." - Robert Eldridge. Bleiler, The Guide to Supernatural fiction 1328. Bleiler (1978), p. 160. Reginald 11843. Touch of wear to cloth at head of spine panel and lower corner tips, binding faded, especially spine panel, gold lettering on spine panel tarnished, a tight, internally clean, very good copy. An uncommon book. (#148801).

Price: $350.00

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