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In a Glass Darkly: Green Tea, the Familiar, Mr. Justice Harbottle, the Room in the Dragon Volant, Carmilla

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  3,422 Ratings  ·  191 Reviews
A collection of five Novellas published shortly before Le Fanu's death. Classic Gothic horror from the 18th century.
Hardcover, 312 pages
Published October 14th 2010 by Benediction Classics (first published 1872)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Jun 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gothic
"What a fool I was! and yet, in the sight of angels, are we any wiser as we grow older? It seems to me, only, that our illusions change as we go on; but, still, we are madmen all the same."


I read the Folio Society edition of this book and that red-eyed demon monkey was on the front cover. Every time my eyes inadvertently met his gaze I felt like I was being mesmerized. When not reading the book I kept the book facing down.

I read this book predominately in the middle of the night. I
Mar 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: horror fans and anyone who likes a good ghostly yarn
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
Once again those good old boys from the days of "classic" literature show everyone how it's done without the aid of special effects, bells and whistles and ludicrous vampire based sex scenes (any who has ever seen or had Tru blood described to them will know what i'm talking about). This is a great book of short stories (Green Tea, The Familiar, Mr Justice Harbottle, The Room in Le Dragon Volant and Carmilla) all linked by the fact that they are case studies brought to the attention of
Reviewing the stories as I go because I have a bad habit of forgetting what individual stories are about by the time I finish the whole.

Green Tea: Clergyman followed by a demonic monkey that only he can see as the result of all the green tea he consumes. Said "monkey" tries to convince the clergyman to hurt himself and others.

What I got out of this story: I drink a lot of green tea; I am fucked.

Familiar: A sea-captain is followed, not by a demonic monkey, but by a dwarf who reminds him of his pa
Five supernatural (or are they?) tales from Le Fanu, the best of which, is the longest; The Room in the Dragon Volant, an amusing historical romance set in a politically unstable France, complete with mysterious beautiful woman in distress, gentleman hero, mysterious circumstances, oriental magic, conspiracy, secrets and jealousies. This story is eclipsed in fame by the last, Carmilla, despite it really being not as good; that's what feeding Victorians with such sensations as lesbian vampires wi ...more
Genia Lukin
Dec 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, fantasy
Sometimes oldies are, in fact, goodies.

Le Fannu is one of the fathers (parents, I should say, before Mary Shelley whacks me over the head with a lightning rod) of the Gothic horror and Gothic fantasy genres. And it's quite clear he deserves his place in the speculative hall of fame.

The short stories of ghosts and apparitions in the book are quite ordinary - for the modern reader. But if one takes into account that they were written before ghost stories became a staple and a cliche, they could be
Randolph Carter
Arguably the first great ghost story collection in the Western canon. There is one weaker entry, The Room in the Dragon Volant which is really a gothic mystery not a ghost story, albeit a pretty good one. The chump protagonist Beckett is a classic example of being led by the dick, Victorian sensibilities aside.

Carmilla is the first great vampire story, not to mention having a strong lesbian theme that somehow sneaked right by Victorian censors. Green Tea and The Familiar, the latter a story of s
In a Glass Darkly, v. 1/3
2* Green Tea
3* The Familiar
3* Mr. Justice Harbottle
In a Glass Darkly, v. 2/3
5* The Room in the Dragon Volant
In a Glass Darkly, v. 3/3
The Room in the Dragon Volant - Part II
4* Carmilla

Excellent stories written by one of the masters of the gothic style.

In a Glass Darkly, v. 1/3: free download available at Gutenberg Project

In a Glass Darkly, v. 2/3: free download available at Gutenberg Project

In a Glass Darkly, v. 3/3: free download available at Gutenberg Project
October 2011

The one about the distressed Reverend haunted by a demonic monkey? Yeah, that was ok.

The one about the retired Navy man haunted by a figure from his past? Eh, sure.

The one about the judge haunted by the ghost of an innocent man he condemned to death? Oh, yeah, whatever.

The one about the young and naïve Englishman travelling in France, haunted by nothing but an ever-growing sense of danger and unease as he befriends a mysterious Marquis, pines for the young and equally mysterious Coun
Doreen Petersen
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Delightful collection of classic short stories. Absolutely loved it! Well worth checking out!
I’ve been meaning to read this for ages, so hurrah that I finally got round to it. It’s a classic of gothic/horror stories, though to the jaded modern eye, it might not be that creepy at all. Of the stories, I liked ‘Carmilla’ and ‘The Room in the Dragon Volant’ the most — the mystery in the latter spun out satisfyingly, even if I did sort of guess how it would end. ‘Carmilla’ is mostly famous, I think, because it’s an early vampire story and because there’s a lot of homoerotic content. It’s not ...more
Jul 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A brilliant veiling technique which adds to its gothic creepiness, including paranormal investigation by a 'physician'.
As has already been mentioned, In a Glass Darkly features one of the first vampire stories that predates even Bram Stoker's Dracula. What makes it all the more intriguing is its incorporation of lesbian vampire obsession. Gothic novels often feature the repressed parts of society coming to the surface as something twisted and evil, and in relation to vampires this could be sexu
Lee Foust
Dec 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of the best ripping yarns of one Anglo-Irish mid-century Victorian weaver of ghost, adventure, and vampire tales. Perfect for the winter weather; perfect for those rainy, dark, and dimly-lit chilly days and nights beneath the eiderdown, warm drink in hand, in my late 19th century Continental European digs. Ah, you see, atmosphere is everything here, there, in both tale told and in the setting of one's reading. The mists swirl and the first-person narrators stand clueless before all-too-obvi ...more
Aug 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: victorian
Most people reading In A Glass Darkly today are going to be doing so because they've heard about Carmilla. Not only did Le Fanu write one of the earliest vampire stories (although there are several that predate this by some distance, most notably Polidori's The Vampyr and Varney the Vampire) he's also written one of the earliest popular stories I can recall that introduce lesbian desire in any significant way. True enough, Carmilla is the high point of this excellent set of short stories. As a V ...more
Sep 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Impossible to pick a favorite story from this collection;however, the judge, Harbottle was by far my favorite character with his "gouty claw" and his "buxom housekeeper". I had read "Collected Ghost Stories" of M.R. James prior to "In a Glass Darkly". James was a self proclaimed "disciple" of Le Fanu and this became apparent as I read the stories from the master himself. Wonderfully creepy collection.
Ah, 1800tallet. Mye mer underholdende enn jeg forventet, lesbiske vampyrer og demoner i apeform.
Jul 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is full of unique tales that will keep one guessing.

The twists and turns in these stories are wonderfully crafted.
Marie Williams
I picked this up just for Carmilla, and it is easily the best Victorian anything I have read in a while. I do feel it has been sensationalized quite a bit over time. Yes, it’s fascinating that the lesbian themes made it past the censorship of the times (though that had more to do with the idea that women weren’t sexual beings) but, though it stands as a historical example of representation, the sexual themes in the story are more of manipulation, both emotionally and compulsory. Far more interes ...more
Oct 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
I only read 3/5 stories: Green Tea, The Familiar and Carmilla, the final one being the highest rated at 3 stars. At this point I have no desire to read the remaining two stories. In general, I don't think 19th century horror is for me. I find very little suspense and horror in them and mostly feel the story drags on and on trying to be mysterious until we get to the reveal. Carmilla was an exception in that the horror of the story is a main figure throughout and there were some very interesting ...more
Ian Casey
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The delight of hell is to do evil to man, and to hasten his eternal ruin.

In a Glass Darkly is one of those defining classics of Gothic supernatural horror and weird fiction which had been lurking just below the surface of my 'to read' list for far too long.

We have here three ghost stories from the man M.R. James regarded as the master of the form, then two lengthy novellas. The former, The Room in Le Dragon Volant, is a mystery thriller which toys with the possibility of a supernatural element.
This is a fun little collection of Victorian era horror by Irish writer Le Fanu. There's a little bit of everything here: demon ghost monkeys, premature burial, lovely lesbian vampires...oh, and my personal favorite character, (bit part though he had) the guy who said this:

‘At Ligny, the other day, where we smashed the Prussians into ten hundred thousand milliards of atoms, a bit of a shell cut me across the leg and opened an artery. It was spouting as high as the chimney, and in half a minute I
J.M. Hushour
Framed as the 19th century equivalent of 'The Ghostbusters' (Who ya gonna call? Dr. Hesselius!), these five stories are presented as 'case studies' of the occult and are treated with a subtle hue of skepticism that doesn't detract from them completely. The first three stories are largely unremarkable, if prettily written, gothic tales where 'visitants' annoy, pester, and finally drive to death/insanity their victims. Nothing special. The longest, 'The Room in the Dragon Volant' which is up for o ...more
Nov 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-owned
A wonderful collection of eerie Gothic tales consisting of psychological terrors, doppelgangers, hallucinations, and mysterious deaths. My favorite story, "The Room in the Dragon Volant," actually doesn't contain any hints of the supernatural. Instead, it relates an amazing con-artist scam that seems reminiscent of later 20th century noir tales, complete with a femme fatale and drugged sequences. The secret passages and midnight meetings in the woods add a nice Gothic element. Although I knew wh ...more
Feb 29, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful, well-made example of Victorian Gothic horror. Sheridan le Fanu' s stories range between the fearfully haunting and the hauntingly sensuous—particularly the sapphic vampire tale "Carmilla"—and are all slow-burning. My only complaint, which is really no fault of the author, is with the repetition intrinsic to this sort of narrative. Gothic horror stories generally have the same plot arc, which can grow trying after two or three in a row. Instead, read these at intervals: Pick the book ...more
Adam Clark
Nov 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good indeed. 'Carmilla' is obviously a classic, and hugely influential, but my other favourite was 'The Room in the Dragon Volant', which I don't remember having read before.
Herman Gigglethorpe
I already reviewed Carmilla separately, so it won't be mentioned often.

In a Glass Darkly is a short story collection with a loose framing device involving the paranormal investigator Dr. Hesselius. Hesselius himself only appears in "Green Tea" from what I remember, then disappears for the rest of the book. The rest of the stories are cases that are told to him through letters and other documents.

Green Tea sounds like a story Lovecraft would write if he were a Victorian. After drinking too much g
DeAnna Knippling
I continue to really dig on Le Fanu. This is one of those story collections where you start trying to count the levels of storytelling and eventually give up.

--The nephew tells the story of the papers that
--The occult medical doctor writes up as his cases, but mostly he just writes in introductory paragraph that notes the provenance of the text, which comes from
--A person with experience of the case who is writing from a perspective years later, and includes in their memoirs
--A story they heard
Dec 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sheridan Le Fanu es un maestro de las historias de fantasmas y espíritus. No solo tuvo una extensa producción de novelas y relatos de misterio/terror como El tío Silas o La casa junto al Cementerio, sino que influenció totalmente a escritores posteriores (aunque se llevaron muy poco tiempo) de la talla de Henry James o M. R. James. Con el tiempo la fama de sus mejores obras se ha mantenido hasta cierto punto, pero desgraciadamente parece que su obra, al margen de "Carmilla", está un poco olvidad ...more
Mar 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a good series of short stories. The first three were definitely following the same theme and thought processes about what would happen if our poor decisions or attitudes were manifested as demons and how it would affect us. The last two stories were only linked to the others in that they also had supernatural elements, but every single story was unsettling and suspenseful like any horror book ought to be. Lately I have been on a Gothic Horror kick and this satisfied wonderfully. The fir ...more
Jul 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's kinda creepy, like..

You're walking down a road with your yellow haired dog. He's happy just looking around, tongue hanging out, ears up. But You're sure thirsty and wish you had yourself a drink of water or something wet like. When before you know it, this old boy comes along with his pretty daughter, who seems kinda shy, but in an odd kinda way.

There both real friendly and they both go on, telling you how much they admire that cute old yellowed hair dog of yours and how funny it is, you an
Jul 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, gothic
After reading Carmilla by itself last summer, someone suggested that I keep reading J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s works. I picked up a beautiful edition of In a Glass Darkly and read it during the last few months. I moved slowly, due to being busy and distracted, but also so that I could savor his writings. This collection of five stories (three short stories and basically two novellas) were so perfect for me that this volume has jumped high onto my favorites list.

Since I mentioned the physicality of t
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Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu (28 August 1814 – 7 February 1873) was an Irish writer of Gothic tales and mystery novels. He was the leading ghost-story writer of the nineteenth century and was central to the development of the genre in the Victorian era. M.R. James described Le Fanu as "absolutely in the first rank as a writer of ghost stories". Three of his best-known works are Uncle Silas, Carm ...more
More about J. Sheridan Le Fanu...
“What a fool I was! and yet, in the sight of angels, are we any wiser as we grow older? It seems to me, only, that our illusions change as we go on; but, still, we are madmen all the same.” 22 likes
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