Friday, August 23, 2013

Island of the Dolls (Isla de las Muñecas)

About seventeen miles outside of Mexico City, deep in the Xochimilco canals, you will find the Isla de las Muñecas, or Island of the Dolls. This small island is home to hundreds of old, decaying dolls. Most of them hang from trees, but some are nailed to walls or other furniture. While it was formerly only known to locals in the Mexico City area, over the last decade the Isla has become an international tourist destination of the macabre.

By the end of the 1950s, the island was already well established as an oddity, and its infamy has only grown since then. The original inhabitant of this small island, Julián Santana, lived there much like a hermit. He tended a crop of corn, vegetables, and a garden of flowers which made up his income, until one day when he found the body of a little girl that had drowned in the canals and washed up on his island. After that, he began to be tormented by the spirit of the little girl. A lone doll also drifted upon his shores very shortly after the little girl, and he assumed the doll must have belonged to her. From there the collection grew; each time he found a lost or discarded doll, Santana would bring it home to live in the trees of his isle.

The reason for the dolls is somewhat uncertain. Some say that the dolls were to appease the spirit of the drowned girl, whose existence has never been verified, while others say that the dolls actually ward off demons that pursue the girl’s spirit. Despite the creepiness of the dolls, Santana did not view them as sinister, but rather as companions. He cared for them and may have even traded his produce for more dolls from visitors.

Over the years the reputation of the island grew, and university students from Mexico City would make pilgrimages out to see the bizarre island of dolls. They would bring with them dolls to give to Santana as a gift or as an offering to the spirits of the island.

Local legend states that at night you can hear the dolls murmuring to each other, and that they occasionally move their arms, legs, and even blink on their own. Such legends are quite understandable, considering how eerie the island must be at night (or even in the day.) According to Sebastian Flores, the chronicler of Xochimilco, Santana stated that he spoke with the dolls and that they even lulled him to sleep.

The Moneca
Santana’s favorite doll, known as The Moneca, is said to grant wishes if given an offering of coins, bracelets or other small gifts. The Moneca washed up on the island on August 28, the day of Saint Augustine, which Santana believed to be an auspicious sign. He got good vibes from the doll and said the she warded off evil. The Moneca is also the only doll on the island with a name. The doll still lives on the island in a hut with some other dolls.

After the death of Santana, the locals invented stories that his death in April, 2001, was caused by the dolls. This could easily be written off as superstition if it weren’t for the manner in which Santana died—he drowned in the same channel that he said he found the little girl in so many years before. He was 80 years old.

The island was inherited by Santana’s nephew, Anastasio Santana Velásquez, who continues to care for the island. For the brave tourist, you can still visit the island, but it is recommended that you bring the dolls a gift—preferably another doll and some hard candy for the drowned girl’s spirit.

All photos are courtesy of Please visit their site for more info on visiting the island.

The Devil in Manuscript And Other Tales of Forbidden Books

“The Green Book,” a small, unassuming diary of a young girl; an unheard of book of the Talmud known as the “Tractate Middoth”; “The King in Yellow,” a play that drives people to insanity; two mysterious grey stone plaques from the sands of Chaldea known as the “Tablets of The Gods”; “The Confessions of Constantine,” which drives its readers into a homicidal rage—these accursed books are the subject of this collection of olden tales.

Each of these tales features a forbidden book, most of which are detrimental to anyone who dares to read them. Some of them are ancient, while others are mass produced—either way they are all dangerous to read.

Many of these fictional books served as the inspiration for Lovecraft’s famed “Necronomicon,” as all of these authors were among his favorites (such as M.R. James, Arthur Machen, and Algernon Blackwood).

This collection is available on Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble for $1.49.  If you prefer, you can also buy directly from us via Payhip in all formats (.mobi, epub, and pdf).

Approx. 425 pages or 135,697 words long. 

As with all ebooks from The Forlorn Press, Forbidden Books contains a clickable table of contents.

Table of Contents:

The Tractate Middoth by M.R. James

The White People by Arthur Machen

The Devil in Manuscript by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers

The Man Who Found Out (A Nightmare) by Algernon Blackwood

P.’s Correspondence by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Innmost Light by Arthur Machen

The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne

For Art’s Sake by Tod Robbins

Appendix: In Search of the Real Necronomicon by Osie Turner

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Blood is The Life: An Anthology of Early Vampire Fiction

Everyone has heard of, or even read, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and many assume it to be the first of its kind. However, the vampire had made his way into literature on numerous occasions before and after. These are the stories you have never heard of.

I have split the anthology into three parts. The first deals with straightforward classic vampire tales. These blood-suckers do not sparkle! The second part is dedicated to psychic vampires, including the earliest ever written. The third section is called “Not Quite Vampires” because these tales are often included in lists of early vampire fiction, but are not actually about vampires. They are close to vampires, or vampire-like, but still are not vampires. They are great literature (Lazarus by Andreyev is one of the darkest pieces of fiction I’ve ever read) and are well deserving to be reread by today’s readers.

Each story contains reproductions of all original illustrations from their first publications. In addition to that, there are four original photographs spread across the section breaks.

The collection is completed with two appendices. The first contains biographical sketches of a few historical cases of vampirism. The average reader may believe that Transylvania is the birthplace of the vampire tradition, but it is not. In these sketches, you will find that Serbia and Croatia are the original home of the nosferatu. Did you know that there is even a history of vampire belief right here in the U.S.?

The second, “Sacred Blood,” is a 3000+ word essay on the sacredness of blood across multiple cultures and religions. While it does not deal directly with vampirism, vampirism does make an appearance in some unlikely places.

It is available on Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble for $2.99.  If you prefer, you can also buy directly from us via Payhip in all formats (.mobi, epub, and pdf).

Approx. 536 pages or 156,837 words long. 

As with all ebooks from The Forlorn Press, The Blood is the Life contains a clickable table of contents.

Table of Contents:

Part I: Early Vampire Fiction

Carmilla by J. Sheridan LeFanu

The Vampyre; A Tale by John William Polidori

The Singular Death of Morton by Algernon Blackwood

For The Blood Is The Life by F. Marion Crawford

Dracula’s Guest by Bram Stoker

Ligeira by Edgar Allen Poe

Schalken The Painter by J. Sheridan LeFanu

The Room in the Tower by E. F. Benson

Let Loose by Mary Cholmondeley

The Green Picture by Charles Skinner

The True Story of a Vampire by Count Eric Stenbock

Part II: Psychic Vampires

Luella Miller by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman

The Transfer by Algernon Blackwood

The House of the Vampire by George Sylvester Viereck

The Parasite by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Part III: Not Quite Vampires

Lazarus by Leonid Andreyev

Morella by Edgar Allen Poe

The Mortal Immortal by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Appendix 1: Real Cases of Vampires

Appendix 2: Sacred Blood