The Seal of the Snake; A Secret in Seven Coils by R E Francillon

Grant & Co's Christmas Number for 1887, first edition, first printing.


Condition: 116pp, Original illustrated card wraps with advertisement borders, priced at one shilling to the spine. Light wear to the corners and spine tips, light scuffing along the hinge lengths, incredibly the original spine is present. Five pages of period advertisements proceed the title page which has been blind stamped Hammersmith Public Libraries, a couple of small stamps to the top of the title page. The pages are very tightly bound and clean. A remarkable survivor in the original illustrated wraps.


* The Seal of the Snake is set against a backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars. Two stories run parallel, that of an English officer shipwrecked on the 'Isle of France' (Mauritius), probably during the Military Campaign of 1809-1811 between the French and British Navy. More importantly to fans of supernatural fiction are the sections of the book which tell the story of englishwoman Helen Grenvil in Mauritius, weaving together elements including reincarnation, witchcraft, soul transference, african folklore, voodoo, human sacrifice and zombies lurking in haunted woods....that's right Zombies from 1887! The central scene in the book has powerful supernatural themes where the protagonist enters a woodland cave and is confronted by an undead,  vampiric hag with 'vulture like claws' wearing the tribal dress of some lost race. Ritual sacrifice within a black circle, by a full moon  is the order of the day, but it turns out that Helen has her own powers to unleash, as she bears the mark of the Great Snake Witch. 

An extremely rare book, which has only turned up once in recent years, bound up with the holy grail of genre fiction, The Beeton's Christmas Annual of 1887, which featured a story called 'A Study in Scarlet' and some detective or other, called Sherlock Holmes, ever heard of it? It's rare, it's beautiful and it's a very desirable thing. 

The Seal of the Snake: A Secret in Seven Coils by R E Francillon