Another literary classic is hijacked by toothy interlopers, this time courtesy of Gray, aka romance novelist Colleen Faulkner.
The formula is simple: Take a classic in the public domain and appropriate most of the author’s prose, sprinkling in references throughout to the ghoul du jour. While Jane Austen’s ironic worldview lends itself to horror spoofing (think books like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, 2009), Wuthering Heights is “dead” serious. Gray reiterates, more or less verbatim, large chunks of Emily Brontë’s prose, interspersing various references to vampires, a plague of which has apparently been running rampant on the same Yorkshire moors trod by Heathcliff and his eternal love, Catherine Earnshaw. The structure and major plot elements of the original are kept intact. Nelly, a housekeeper who served both the Earnshaws and the Lintons, Brontë’s fatefully linked fictional families, relates the history of Heathcliff, Catherine and their descendants and siblings to a tenant who has come to occupy Catherine’s former marital home, the Grange. Heathcliff, a gypsy orphan brought home by Mr. Earnshaw, patriarch of Wuthering Heights manor, grows up with the Earnshaw siblings, Hindley and Catherine. Although Catherine and Heathcliff are childhood playmates and soul mates, she capriciously decides to marry their closest neighbor’s son, milquetoast Edgar Linton of the Grange. Her defection launches Heathcliff on a path of revenge—he marries Edgar’s sister Isabella out of spite—that will end only with tragic early deaths, and the virtual enslavement by Heathcliff of Hindley’s son Hareton, his own son Linton and Catherine’s daughter Cathy. Heathcliff’s depravity makes him a difficult character to elicit sympathy for, but somehow Brontë manages this. Not so Gray in this mashup, where the main focus of suspense is whether Heathcliff, a known vampire slayer, is himself among the undead. Will Cathy, secretly training to be the first female vampire slayer, be his nemesis? Anecdotes describing mayhem perpetrated by the bloodsuckers lend a disconcerting layer of gallows humor to the proceedings.
Heathcliff without fangs is scary enough.