The Lair of the White Worm

The Lair of the White Worm

Infobox Book |
name = The Lair of the White Worm

image_caption =
author = Bram Stoker
illustrator = Pamela Colman Smith
cover_artist =
country = Ireland
language = English
genre = Horror
publisher = William Rider and Son Ltd
release_date = 1911
media_type = Print (Hardback & Paperback)
pages = 324 pp
isbn = NA

"The Lair of the White Worm" (also known as "The Garden of Evil") is a horror novel by Irish author Bram Stoker, who also wrote "Dracula". It is partly based on the legend of the Lambton Worm. The book was published in 1911, the year before Stoker's death. In 1988,it was adapted into a film by Ken Russell.

Plot summary

The plot focuses on Adam Salton, originally from Australia, who is contacted by his grand-uncle, Richard Salton, in 1860 England for the purpose of establishing a relationship between these last two members of the family. His grand-uncle wants to make Adam his heir. Adam travels to Richard Salton's house in Mercia, Lesser Hill, and quickly finds himself in the centre of mysterious and inexplicable occurrences.

The new heir to the Caswall estate, known as Castra Regis, the Royal Camp, Edgar Caswall, appears to be making some sort of a mesmeric assault on a local girl, Lilla Watford, while a local lady, Arabella March, seems to be running a game of her own, perhaps angling to become Mrs. Caswall.

Adam Salton discovers black snakes on the property and buys a mongoose to hunt them down. He then discovers a child who is bitten on the neck. The child barely survives. He learns that another child was killed earlier while animals were also killed in the region. The mongoose attacks Arabella who shoots it to death. Arabella tears another mongoose apart with her hands. Arabella then murders Oolanga, the African servant, by dragging him down into a pit or hole. Adam witnesses the murder which he cannot prove. Adam then suspects Arabella of the other crimes.

Adam and Sir Nathaniel de Salis, who is a friend to Richard Salton, then plot to stop Arabella by whatever means necessary. They suspect that she wants to murder Mimi Watford, who Adam later marries. Nathaniel is an Abraham Van Helsing type of character who wants to hunt down Arabella.

The White Worm is a large snake-like creature that dwells in the hole or pit in Arabella's house located in Diana's Grove. The White Worm has green glowing eyes and feeds on whatever is thrown to it in the pit. The White Worm ascends from the pit and seeks to attack Adam and Mimi Watford in a forest.

Adam plans to pour sand into the pit and to use dynamite to kill the giant White Worm while it is inside the pit.

Edgar Caswall is a slightly pathological eccentric who has Mesmer's chest which he keeps at the Doom Tower. Caswall wants to recreate mesmerism, associated with Anton Mesmer, which was a precursor to hypnotism. He has a giant kite in the shape of a hawk to scare away pigeons which have gone berzerk and have attacked his fields.

In the final scene, Adam Salton, Mimi Watford, and Nathaniel de Salis confront Arabella and Edgar Caswall. A thunderstorm and lightning destroy Diana's Grove by igniting the dynamite.

Influence on Popular Culture

*Dutch death metal band God Dethroned's 2004 album was titled "The Lair of the White Worm". While the album itself is not specifically related to Stoker's novel, the lyrics of the title track are based on it.

*The creature of "The Lair of the White Worm", "The White Worm", is mentioned in a song of the Brazilian 70's music band "Secos e Molhados".

External links

* [ The Lair of the White Worm] - dedicated site (film and novel)
*gutenberg|no=1188|name=Lair of the White Worm
* [ The Lair of the White Worm] - full text HTML
* [ Pamela Colman Smith's illustrations for the novel]
* [ The Lair of the White Worm] , human-read audio version by [ Librivox]

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