Richard Marsh

The Beetle

A group of middle-class Victorians find themselves pitted against an ancient Egyptian evil.

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The Beetle was published in 1897, the same year as Dracula—and outsold it six to one that year. Like Dracula, the novel is steeped in the evil mysteries of an ancient horror: in this case, a mysterious ancient Egyptian creature bent on revenge.

The story is told through the sequential points of view of a group of middle-class Victorians who find themselves enmeshed in the creature’s plot. The creature, in the guise of an Egyptian man, appears in London seeking revenge against a popular member of Parliament. They soon find out that it can shape shift into other things, including women; that it can control minds and use hypnosis; and that it won’t stop at anything to get the revenge it seeks. The heroes are soon caught in a whirlwind of chase scenes, underground laboratories, secret cults, and more as they race to foil the creature.

While The Beetle didn’t earn the lasting popularity of Stoker’s counterpart, it remains a strange and unique morsel of Victorian sensationalist fiction.