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Wylder's Hand

3.4 of 5 stars 3.40  ·  rating details  ·  103 ratings  ·  19 reviews
There was a little fair-haired child playing on the ground before the steps as I whirled by. The old rector had long passed away; the shorts, gaiters, and smile -- a phantom; and nature, who had gathered in the past, was providing for the future. The pretty mill-road, running up through Redman's Dell, dank and dark with tall romantic trees, was left behind in another momen ...more
Paperback
Published March 1st 2004 by Wildside Press (first published 1864)
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Dfordoom
I’m a big fan of Joseph Sheridan le Fanu’s gothic fictions, especially Carmilla and Green Tea, but until now I hadn’t sampled any of his sensation novels. After reading Wylder’s Hand I can see myself tracking down lot more of his work in this genre!

The sensation novel was a kind of Victorian ancestor to the detective novel, with a crime as the lynchpin of the plot but generally without an actual detective as hero, and with a pinch of melodrama.

The plot of Wylder’s Hand is convoluted and contrive
...more
Tocotin
I don't know yet what to make of this book - is it going to be a supernatural story, or just a mystery like Uncle Silas? - and it starts very slowly, but hey, it's Le Fanu, I'm gonna stick around.

And I'm glad I did. Le Fanu is the only author who always manages to surprise me. After the first half the book was difficult to put down. And I wonder what really was going on between Rachel and Dorcas... I hope they lived happily together in Venice.

<3 for Le Fanu and gotta love his early lolcat spe
...more
trishtrash
When Mark Wylder, engaged by convenience to his cousin, Dorcas Brandon, disappears with only a few unaddressed letters giving hint to his movements, the marriage and estate falls into the hands of Stanley Lake, a schemer ruled by his temper and jealousies; but is the change merely seized upon by Lake, or influenced by him from the beginning? And why is his sister Rachel thrown into despair by his – and her own – actions? Le Fanu’s novel, though not perfect, sustains a tense air of mystery and su ...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
A very effective mystery story, albeit one without a sleuth, but rather a story in which a central mystery is established, hints are dropped, consequences are shown and a sustained atmosphere of suspense maintained until all is revealed in a final cataclysm. Pacing is one of Le Fanu's great strengths, and he maintains interest and tension very well over the course of about 400 pages with a cast of vivid characters, including several nasty villains, two fascinating heroines, a possibly spectral a ...more
Marts  (Thinker)
A classic semi-horror/mystery tale, Le Fanu is rather descriptive and quite detailed regarding people, places, histories, and general situations throughout the novel...

The plot highlights the Wylder and Brandon families, both prone to frequent disagreements, and begins with a proposed marriage between Mark Wylder and Dorcas Brandon, note that they aren't particularly keen on marriage...

But then, Mark Wylder vanishes and issues specific to Mark's brother, William and the lawyer Josiah Larkin sur
...more
Rosemary
I loved this Victorian novel of mystery and suspense. The plot is like something Wilkie Collins might have written (though Le Fanu came first) but the language and style are much more accessible, which is perhaps why Le Fanu is not better known – he was written off as a popular ‘sensation’ novelist. These days perhaps we’re less judgmental about a writer’s ability to tell a good story.

The novel has its faults, e.g. the first person narrator tells us things he couldn’t have known and describes sc
...more
Jeremy
Phew! finished it. A lost classic they called it - a classic crime book. First published in 1864, a time of horses and carriages, dog carts and tax carts (?!) and trains but not the telegraph so communication links were slow and cumbersome and always in person or the written word. A time when people very much new their place in society and opportunities for social advancement were two - marry into it or acquire wealth - both of which were fraught with dangers for those who tried.

We have the bea
...more
Anna Kennedy


Good grief, I have to say I'm relieved to have finished that!!! Although now looking back on Wylder's Hand as a full novel I can appreciate its impressiveness and dark storyline, there were times during it that it felt like walking through treacle, particularly the descriptions of electioneering and conveyancing which thankfully were relatively brief. I completely agree with another reviewer's view that there is absolutely no need for a 'narrator' in this story, a gentleman who begins the narra
...more
Dave
Picked this up at Halloween for the spookiness, but found the spooky much diluted. Le Fanu is great at moody scenery, ghostly madmen, hallucinations in the drawing room. He's not so good at organizing a novel: bad (pointless) choice of narrator; crucial mystery details subsumed by fuzzy, long-winded dissertations on real estate law and politics; and murderously slow pacing shoving the revelations to the last chapter.

Note: this really isn't a horror novel, though the horrific parts are the best p
...more
Justin Howe
A Gothic novel of Victorian real estate transactions, which means there's murder, blackmail, illegitimate children, and at least one mentally maladjusted relative wandering around the estate like a specter. Much of the novel's plot could have been solved by the two heroines becoming lesbians sooner.
Nancy
Jul 02, 2010 Nancy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes Gothic mysteries
Shelves: gothic, fiction
This was really much better than some of the other LeFanu I have read.
The plot was very good, the characters good and the atmosphere terrific. At no time was there a lag or a long boring section I had to get through to find out what happened.
LeFanu earned his reputation as the premier Gothic with "Uncle Silas," but I thought this lesser known work was just as good.
Alvin
Aug 16, 2007 Alvin added it
Recommends it for: Gothic Roots Fans
No ratings on this one-it's alittle above my likes and dislikes. The descriptions of the manor house and characters beautiful and unsettling. It is time for a re-read. I voted to name my daughter, camille, after the character Dorcas,but for the unfortunate modern connotation it might have flown! I do recomend this one highly.D. Sayers' Miss Vane was researching LeFanu in Gaudy Night.
Steve Goble
A slow starter of an old-fashioned mystery, sort of P.G. Wodehouse meets Jane Austen meets Wilkie Collins. Much of the plot involves hidden secrets and mysterious stratagems, and there are details of political power plays that are, frankly, annoying and irrelevant. And yet, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and found it to be a page-turner in the latter stages.
Aneela
Read this as part of my 10 book classic crime collection from Atlantic books. An obscure victorian thriller, which definitely shows it's age at times. Personally, I preferred The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, but this was a good read as well.
Sam
Le Fanu writes not one but two fascinating female characters and a particularly sinister villain in the form of Josiah Larkin. Terrific atmosphere is maintained throughout the the story but the final resolution of the mystery falls a bit flat.
Catherine Siemann
Tricky, interesting mystery. Alas, the few supernatural moments all turn out to have rational explanations, and I guessed the solution early on, but it was still an enjoyable read.
Joe
I've liked what I've read previously by Le Fanu—especially Carmilla—and this has some nice uncanny moments, but it would have been twice as enjoyable if it were half as long.
Catherine
A fun book with an intricate plot. Originally published serially, it's best read at least somewhat episodically so that it's length doesn't feel so cumbersome.
Judy
I quite enjoyed this, but the plot seemed a bit predictable at times, and I didn't think it was one of Sheridan Le Fanu's best.
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Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu was an Irish writer of Gothic tales and mystery novels. He was the premier ghost story writer of the nineteenth century and had a seminal influence on the development of this genre in the Victorian era.
More about Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu...
Carmilla Uncle Silas In a Glass Darkly Best Ghost Stories of J. S. Le Fanu Madam Crowl's Ghost & Other Stories

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