Jess Nevins continues his look at the most noteworthy science fiction and fantasy works from 1885 to 1930. The year under review is 1886 and the works chosen are F. Anstey’s A Fallen Idol, Marie Corelli’s A Romance of Two Worlds, Rosa Praed’s The Brother of the Shadow, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mister Hyde, and H. Rider Haggard’s She.
Two of the books mentioned referenced Theosophists as part of their plot. F. Anstey’s A Fallen Idol features the effect on a number of lives of an ill-fated Eastern idol brought to London. This period piece by Anstey (Thomas Anstey Guthrie, 1856-1934) remains an entertaining and insightful read.
Mrs. Praed appears on the list again with The Brother of the Shadow. Nevins says: Despite the much greater use of Theosophical ideology —Praed was involved with Madame Blavatasky and the Theosophist Society almost from the beginning —Brother is a moderately fun late Victorian romantic occult fantasy. Brother has good characterization (especially for the doctor), an agreeably smooth style, hidden Tibetan occult masters, psychic death rituals, and a pleasant lack of racism in its treatment of Indians. One might describe Brother as Bulwer-Lytton without his bombast, straining for affect, or moments of genius.
Links for the novels noted are given at the io9 site.