The subtitle "a Victorian Novel"--along with the lovely cover--were enough to ensnare me. I lugged this darling home from England in my suitcase and tThe subtitle "a Victorian Novel"--along with the lovely cover--were enough to ensnare me. I lugged this darling home from England in my suitcase and thankfully it did not disappoint! (Yes, I often buy books for covers alone…)
This book is told in a series of narratives from three different character perspectives and I will say it's a wee bit slow to start, but what mystery isn't as the foundations need to be set? I also loved the historical references, especially as I love the Victorian's predilection with death and the afterlife. But when the setting has haunted houses/houses with a tragic past, top hats and tailcoats, stormy nights, séances and ghosts.... what more could I ask for really? I'm trying not to spoil anything but I will note that I found the ending predictable, but I don't think I would've wanted it any other way. I am definitely going to keep an eye out for more works from this author....more
While this wasn't entirely what I expected it was still interesting enough. Rather than ghost stories this read more like a catalog of haunted houses,While this wasn't entirely what I expected it was still interesting enough. Rather than ghost stories this read more like a catalog of haunted houses, ghost sitings, house "lucks", family curses and so on written by a Victorian/Edwardian skeptic. Which I suppose it was, really, though I'm almost inclined to treat this as a travel guide of stately homes that I might potentially visit if they are open to the public or now in the hands of the National Trust. Not recommended for those looking for a ghost story or chilling tale of dark, stormy nights and mysterious scratching at the door. ...more
I don't know if I'll be able to convey just how badly written/edited/constructed this book is but boy will I make a valiant effort.
If I could give thI don't know if I'll be able to convey just how badly written/edited/constructed this book is but boy will I make a valiant effort.
If I could give this a negative star-rating I would choose a -10 for "don't-bother-save-yourself-the-trouble/money-and-just-say-NO-before-you-start-banging-your-head-on-the-wall-after-every-chapter". I even had a dream (before I finished the book) about writing a review giving it a negative-star review because, yes, it IS that bad. If I hadn't been participating in a book reading challenge I would've tossed this book into a bonfire after chapter 2 and not persevered with this rubbish.
Which, honestly is a shame. I naively thought, "Hmm, lighthouses, I like lighthouses". Goodbye lighthouse after Chapter 2 (I don't really count the nonsense with Josephine because at that point it became, "Oh, she's not been angsting for five sentences LET'S GIVE HER A REASON TO MOAN ABOUT HER LIFE AGAIN").
Was it necessary for the author to vomit Addie's back-story/mystery/Mary-Sue-character-introduction at us within the first two chapters? Oh, sorry, I guess it WAS necessary to neglect writing a proper mystery set-up when clearly all the author cares about (God aside which I'll get to later), was the ridiculous romance between John and Addie where, naturally, the first moment they lay eyes upon one another they're in love. Does the author, at least, show us how these two people could fall in love? Does the author bother to show us how and why the reader should like her characters? The answers are no and no. Most of the cast are two-dimensional at best and I'm sorry to say we are generally told what to think about the main characters. Addie is an "angel in skirts" but are we truly shown any outstandingly angelic behavior on her part? No and no, I do not count the arbitrary/unnecessary mother-of-five-has-consumption-woe-child-labor-in-1907 episode on the grounds that it was so obviously contrived (and utterly left-field in its bizarre placement). Is John really anything beyond the physical impulses Addie stirs in him (and what's the point of giving him a dead wife if all she does is serve as a point of comparison, oh, did we mention his wife is Addie's half-sister/cousin, daughter of her mother's half-sister and therefore her half-aunt/step-mother)?
Anyway, before I derail any further into churlish commentary, the author neglects developing her characters in favor galloping into the lack-luster arms of the romance. In fact, EVERYTHING she set up in those first two horrifically convoluted chapters takes a back-burner. Epileptic child is neglected in favor of the romance, pony and horse are neglected in the random horseback riding scene (Oh yes, let's not forget the "thankyousomuch for almost killing my child on a run away pony, it taught him to be brave" scene because clearly someone's not read Gone With the Wind and seen how that pony scene goes down) and estranged Dad, well, sorry Mr Eaton, you just get systematically turned into a stereotypical petty villain.
That aside, I still thought, "Hmm, she's got some nice minute detail in here about the historical period".
Does it make up for her glaring and sometimes contradictory continuity errors? Does it make up for her grammatical errors? Does it make up for the terrible transitions that make me wonder "what was the point of you writing out that scene if each interaction was a sentence long and you just breezed through three different people"? Is that worth wanting to gouge my eyeballs out every time John/Addie decide to talk about how wonderful/attractive/insert-syrupy-adjective-here the other is? I honestly started feeling like I was reading Twilight at times with all the ridiculous mooning.
Also the God-issue. Was it really-truly-ABSOLUTELY necessary to throw in God and her Faith every five seconds? I've read plenty of Victorian novels written by preachers' daughters and other Christian authors that have managed to get across the moral-point and not had to resort to flaunting weirdly and jarringly placed God-conversations/observations/questions-to-God. Or the mind-boggling fact that one of the characters then started saying "God might be punishing someone so, don't intervene".... Excuse me, WHAT? Are we now manipulating Faith for plot-points, to justify the characters bizarre behavior? She keeps going on and on about her faith but I'm still questioning the ramifications of her STEALING PROPERTY, DECEIVING, oh, sorry, God's on her side (because she asked him five seconds ago, dontcha know) so it's okay that the characters just committed the time-period equivalent of grand-theft-auto.
I could go on. Seriously. But I won't. Please, save yourself from this grandiose waste of time and just don't bother with this book....more
I pretty much reviewed each short story in my updates as I finished them, excepting Sand which was the last of stories in this collection so I guess II pretty much reviewed each short story in my updates as I finished them, excepting Sand which was the last of stories in this collection so I guess I'll start there. I didn't like it so much, found it terribly difficult to get into, the characters seeming very vague and indistinct to me. I suppose I was also (unfairly) expecting some blockbuster-esque sand dramatics whereas Blackwood is a little bit more subtle/metaphysical/spiritual than what I was hoping for.
Overall, I liked some of the stories (Glamour of the Snow, Ancient Sorceries and Man Who Found Out) and was bored to tears by other of the stories (the Man Whom the Trees Loved and Sand). Mostly (oddly?) I quite liked the footnotes which in some cases afforded a more in-depth look about each piece. ...more
Perhaps one of the worst books I've subjected myself to this year. Maudlin, redundant, pointless are words that come to mind when I think of the book.Perhaps one of the worst books I've subjected myself to this year. Maudlin, redundant, pointless are words that come to mind when I think of the book. I'm only too glad to put it behind me. That's the last book recommendation I take from my mother....more