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The identity of the writer who wrote as R.R. Ryan has been in dispute ever since he (she?) wrote several novels back in the 30s. In his introduction, John Pelan reveals the results of his decades-long search.
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The Subjugated Beast is one of the two R. R. Ryan books released recently from Ramble House. The other, Freak Museum, also made the KEW list in 1983. Ryan has the distinguished award of having 3 books on the list, more than any other author. After reading Beast, I can understand why: it's one of the best horror novels I've ever read.
The new edition also has ignited another skirmish in the controversy over the identity of R. R. Ryan. James Doing over at Wormwoodiana feels he has conclusive proof Ryan was the author and theater producer Mr. Evelyn Bradley. But in the introduction to the new edition of Beast, John Pelan puts forth his thesis that Ryan was Kings's daughter Denice Jeanette Bradley-Ryan, who published several books of her own. Pelan offers family memories from Bradley's grandson as proof. James Doing brings up actual book contracts and a death notice which states: "Evelyn BRADLEY otherwise Rex RYAN" as his smoking gun. I'm starting to wonder if the novels might have been a collaboration between father and daughter.
The Subjugated Beast begins with a back-story about the narrator's family. One of her ancestors was a confidante with the infamous highwayman and cannibal Sawney Beane. Another went crazy and killed several people in a rampage. It seems a little out-of-place, but the opening chapter is significant later on in the book.
The book is narrated by Kyrle Rock. Curl, as her friends call her, has been living with her mother all her life. She's in her early 20's and is being courted by a young medical student named John. At the opening of the book, she learns of her grandfather's will: she is to be the recipient of his fortune. But the will is conditional on her living with and under the guidance of her Uncle Paul, a famous scientist.Read more ›
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I thought this would be a really scary book, based on the brief description given on the site. However, it is not, IMO. A young girl inherits a fortune from her father on the condition that she live with her uncle. He is perceived to be horrible and scary, but beyond being taciturn, dressed in black, and solitary, he does not actually do anything scary. The only possibility, after they move to an extremely remote, broken down house, where it seems to rain all the time,, is that her legs are suddenly paralyzed, presumably by the uncle, tho never proven. He is even gentle in helping her. The ending is happy, as her lost boyfriend finally finds her, the police are summoned and she eventually recovers and she happily get married. Rather prosaic, rather than scary.