This book is best described as steampunk fantasy, reminiscent of Neil Gaiman's darker novels like American Gods and Neverwhere, but with distinctly leThis book is best described as steampunk fantasy, reminiscent of Neil Gaiman's darker novels like American Gods and Neverwhere, but with distinctly less whimsy and more visceral disgust and horror.
The book is uneven. The plot starts out promisingly enough but doesn't tie up all loose ends to my satisfaction, and the final showdown is very needlessly drawn out. I skimmed much of the last third. I did not appreciate the purposeful sprinkling of ten dollar words when one dollar words would do. I think some of the writing was rather rambling and self-indulgent. I also dislike the choice to focus on the main male character's plot line at the expense of the female main character's plot line. I thought she was more interesting, but in the end she's shunted aside and serves as yet another symbol in a male character's life for the purposes of him discovering himself. Sigh....more
I found this strange little book in a sci-fi, fantasy, and horror "book mobile" bus. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the writing. It's raI found this strange little book in a sci-fi, fantasy, and horror "book mobile" bus. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the writing. It's rare that I find a book this unique and I'm always very pleased and surprised to find un-genrifiable books. It's a mash-up of fantasy and historical fiction (set in the American Wild West during the days of "Manifest Destiny" and the civil war) and is basically a fun, well-written werewolf yarn with a unique take on the legend. Werewolves seem to have been somewhat slighted in recent years in favor of "sexier" vampires and more "hardcore" zombies, so this felt refreshing....more
Starts out brilliantly, steadily declines in quality. I could absolutely see the moment when Wilkie Collins lost interest in his own story and was merStarts out brilliantly, steadily declines in quality. I could absolutely see the moment when Wilkie Collins lost interest in his own story and was merely writing the ending dutifully for the fans and finishing the thing. Too long, needed editing, by the end the beauty of the language and the turns of phrase, quotability, and such are lost and replaced by trotting detail and tying up loose ends, as if in a police officer's report. Much of the suspense and tension of the plot is lost halfway through the story when a certain plot twist occurs. Other flaws: bad guys get justice, but only via deus ex machina (three deus ex machinas, in total, all unrelated to the main plot) and not by the efforts of the narrator, or indeed, even their own fault, really. Marion does not get a totally satisfactory ending either, when a tantalizing one presented itself easily, but is gotten rid of and a blunter ending is gone with. She's much more captivating than our intreprid young hero Mr. Hartright, a bit of a victorian Marty Stu- I chuckled to see that in the end, he's the only character who doesn't really suffer lasting harm, and gets everything he wanted and more- and the plot suffers when he and not she takes up the main narrative and action.
Read The Moonstone first; it does Wikie Collins better justice....more
A very satisfying gothic tale with all the expected trappings of the genre- the plucky but naive 23-year-old British governess heroine, a lonely and uA very satisfying gothic tale with all the expected trappings of the genre- the plucky but naive 23-year-old British governess heroine, a lonely and unloved child ward, dastardly fights over family inheritance, a crumbling and gloomy old manor, etc. Pleasantly predictable for fans of the genre.
Really very well done and well worth the read. Keeps your attention and moves along at a nice speed. My only quibble (and a pretty minor one at that) is that I personally think the wrong guy gets the girl in the end. But this is probably just a matter of taste....more
There's really no way for me to sugarcoat this: I hated this book more than I've hated any book in a long time. Usually when I dislike books, it's becThere's really no way for me to sugarcoat this: I hated this book more than I've hated any book in a long time. Usually when I dislike books, it's because they're boring, or cliche, or make poor and amateur use of the English language. None of those things are true about this book, yet I hated it all the same. I hated it mostly because I felt like it had no heart and soul, no deeper understanding of humanity or lesson about life, other than a pretty good (but still, not deep) understanding of the sordid and psychopathic lengths people will go to control others. It very much intends to shock the reader merely for the sake of shocking the reader, and is a veritable parade (or, perhaps a more apt metaphor, a circus) of incest, murder, jealousy, betrayal, mutilation, prostitution, rape, drug abuse, and other horrors. And I didn't particularly feel like the author was on the side of the "geeks" either- the book uses them the way the old circuses used them, as something to stare, point, and laugh at.
All redeeming characters and moments are mercilessly crushed in this novel- the narrator, a female hunchback dwarf, is supposed to follow a redeeming arc when she becomes a mother to an "almost normal" child, and this gives her meaning outside of her dysfunctional family of origin- yet, I didn't really believe her motherly love was actually unselfish in the end. It was just another sad continuation of the prior abuse, manipulation, control, and selfish misuse of others from her past. The other would-be hero, the narrator's telekinetic youngest brother, is originally set up as a rather brilliant and hopeful foil to her evil psychopathic cult leader of an eldest brother. Yet inexplicably, he suddenly and completely folds and succumbs to the abuse in the end.
I really dislike reading things like that. One can't even say the author was going for a bleak realism, a sort of "there are no happy endings in the real world, readers!" because the novel is so obviously unrealistic in other ways. It ends up feeling like an orgy of sickness and despair with very little point.
Apparently this book is entirely fictional, but thousands of people (myself included) had the impression it is based on a true mystery. The author encApparently this book is entirely fictional, but thousands of people (myself included) had the impression it is based on a true mystery. The author encouraged this misconception which probably accounts a lot for the book's enduring infamy. Clever trick long before the Blair Witch Project!
This is a portrait of Australian culture and something of a comedy of manners, and also the story of a business ruined by an unfortunate scandal. The unsolved mystery is mostly incidental. But there is a bit of the supernatural lingering in the corners, a hint of science-fiction or good old-fashioned ghost story.
This is a decent novel, decently written, with a fantastic and original concept. I thought the overall plot was also pretty well done. However, I think the story suffers from having no real central character or main point of view, no one hero or heroine to follow. There is a lot of chattering dialogue and detail that is, frankly, pretty unnecessary and a bit slow at times. This is one of the rare stories that I feel may be better remembered as a movie....more
The first third of this is capital L Literature. The writing quality noticably declines in the second third, with shorter, choppier dime store sentencThe first third of this is capital L Literature. The writing quality noticably declines in the second third, with shorter, choppier dime store sentences. Gone are the beautiful metaphors. But the book became well-writen yet unambitious genre fiction on page 266. It was clear to me then I could not call Rebecca literature. A dam shame. Du maurier chickened out, couldn't murder her darlings, couldn't sustain the emotional and resorted to mere surprise and intellectual shock rather than moral pay off. I wish Rebecca had lived instead of our narrator. I read it as an Electra complex in nov form with Rebecca representing the mother. There is some metaphoric justice in the end with Manderly- a symbol of de Winter's patriarchal power- gone; yet the protag never leaves him as would be dully morally just. Not literature, but it might have been. ...more
I danced around reading this book, putting it off for too long, reading lots of "gothic-in-the-sense-of-horror" novels and lots of victorian romances,I danced around reading this book, putting it off for too long, reading lots of "gothic-in-the-sense-of-horror" novels and lots of victorian romances, but never The Quintessential Gothic Romance, which I now realize this is. This is the definition of the genre and so many references finally make sense to me now. The Thirteenth Tale is a ripoff of this book, for instance- and there's tons of others.
Anyway, in the final judgement, I feel like this is more compelling plot, twists and turns, and surprises, than it is beautifully written or particularly insightful of human nature. I kept missing the intense psychological insight of Charlotte Bronte. Emily has the tale told aloud, literally, by a servant, which deprives it of a lot of introspection. So, as in drama, characters must monologue occasionally to show their feelings, which they do, but not enough. In fact, it feels very much like a play or a movie. Which is odd for the time. I kept imagining it on-screen. It has that sort of surface gloss to it.
Also, credibility is strained when ALL characters either get sick, hysterical, or die. But she pulls it off, barely. It is well-written and very readable and compelling even now and certainly a masterpiece of suspense and plot.
Disappointing not to get that broader commentary on human nature though, because there's room for it. We get nature description, but no description of how country life really works, whether such isolation is truly the right way to live, the breakdown of class lines between masters and servants, incest when in isolation, parent-child relations- and it really feels like all these issues are lying there BEGGING to be explored, to be drawn into the discussion and metaphor. This could EASILY have been a commentary on how to live, on humanity, on English life, but it stops short and goes more for "ghost story" in the final count.
To some reviewers: If you thought Cathy and Heathcliff were meant to be admirable in any way or an example of true love in any way or sighed and said "How romantic!" and thought of princesses and white knights, you entirely missed the point. Reminds me of how some people read Jane Austen as "tee hee kisses and giggles" rather than bitingly angry social satire. This is not a puppies and unicorns book.
One interpretation I particularly like is that Catherine is the real heroine and the book is about female creativity and constraint. It's actually HER revenge story and Heathcliff is her alter-ego or animus. Several things support this: Heathcliff shows up out of nowhere, she teaches him everything (IE, she "creates" him, as if he's her character or son or imaginary friend) she says she "IS" Heathcliff etc, she's the only one who sees him at all most of the time. His hyper-masculinity and the part where he insists "Catherine ruined herself, I didn't do it" also aids this interpretation. Also, one of the most poignant and "true" moments of the book for me is when the sick Catherine is standing at her window imagining her childhood home and wishing she were a girl again. In the end it's about the choice between the adolescent self and the adult woman, and what's lost when she can't incorporate both parts of herself. The raging creative masculine part is so strong that it has to live, and the society woman has to die. I can empathize with that.
I remember gasping halfway through when I realized how cleverly she was setting up the same Heathcliff-Edgar-Cathy love triangle in the next generation....more
Oh Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, why has history so maligned you??! You were easily five times the writer and the man Bram Stoker was.
You also have this grOh Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, why has history so maligned you??! You were easily five times the writer and the man Bram Stoker was.
You also have this great ability to write convincing enough female characters- whether or not that springs from a voyeuristic interest in lesbian sex, I don't care! I also have a voyeuristic interest in lesbian sex!
And your great name! All those s and f and l sounds. It's practically impossible to form the name in the mouth or mind without thinking about sex. I mean, Bram Stoker immediately brings to mind giving birth, or constipation.