The story “The Sorceress” is one of many tales that can be found in the book “Russian Fairy Tales”. The story takes place in a Kingdom with the main character being the ten-year-old son of a priest in the king’s court. The story revolves around the princess who is deemed to be a sorceress. One night, upon the boys return home he looked into the princess’s window and claimed to have seen her take her own head off, groom it, then put it back on. He was captivated by the experience, believed her to be a real magician and told everyone what he had encountered. For unknown reasons the princess fell very sick and she requested that her father have the priest’s son read the psalter over her for three nights in succession if she died. After her death the son was instructed to complete this request. The morning of the first night that he was to read over the princess’s body he went to his daily session of teaching an old woman how to read. During the session he confided in the woman, as he thought he was going to perish for reading the psalter over the sorceress. She assured him that he would not perish if he followed her specific directions to draw a circle around him with a knife while reading. He did so, and upon midnight the princess arose from her coffin and attempted to attack him but could not cross the circle. He did this two nights in a row and returned to the woman the morning of the third night. She gave him a hammer and four nails and instructed him to place the nails into the four corners of the coffin before reading and to place the hammer in front of him. At midnight, the coffin lid opened and once again she tried to attack the son and even unleashed a fire through the church. The son continued to read and the princess could not harm him. Before the day came the princess went back into her coffin and the fire stopped. That morning the king came to find his daughter in such a condition and the son informed him on all that occurred. The princess was then ordered to be steaked with an aspen spike and buried in the ground. The son was rewarded in money and land.

This story contains classic examples of the common characteristics that vampires have acquired throughout the centuries. It is a common belief that vampires come into being by being an unclean soul in their human life, much like a sorceress, or that they were never actually human but demonic beings (LiveScience 2008). It is also common that these supernatural beings can only be killed in specific ways. In this case a series of steps had to be taken along with steaking her with an aspen spike to eliminate this being. In other stories compiled in this book such as “The Peasant and the Corpse” the vampire was killed in the same manner, with an aspen spike. In another tale, “Death at the Wedding”, a soldier encounters a sorcerer that rises from the grave. The sorcerer informed the solider that he could be killed, but only in a specific way that involved his cremation. In the end the soldier prevailed and the vampire was killed, alike the other stories, and he was rewarded in monetary value.


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