Elizabeth Caroline Grey’s The Skeleton Count, or The Vampire Mistress is a ‘penny dreadful’ published in 1828 in The Casket.
I had never heard of this story before yesterday. Just imagine! How is it possible that a vampire story, with a female vampire, written by a woman in 1828 – long before Carmilla and Dracula, and even before Clarimonde – managed to completely escape my notice?
And the author’s name – Elizabeth Grey! My vampire, Suzie,… her mother was Elizabeth Grey. A different Elizabeth Grey, but still. Wow. I had to read it. And it’s available, cheap, from Amazon! O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! I chortled in my joy.
It’s an entertaining read with many traditional elements, and I was further delighted by the similarities between Bertha and my Suzie: they’re both pretty girls who wear their long, dark hair braided back, and have glittering eyes that hypnotise… and they’re not intrinsically evil, although they are perceived as such.
I’d love for this story to be real, but even if it is truly a 19th century publication, it almost certainly wasn’t written by Elizabeth Caroline Grey… See John Adcock’s explanation of the controversy here: The Elizabeth Caroline Grey Hoax.
If it’s authentic, it deserves five stars. If it’s a fake… Well, it’s an entertaining read, for all that.