Ever since reading The Divorce Papers and Where'd You Go Bernadette I have been hooked by a love for epistolary novels which are stories told throughEver since reading The Divorce Papers and Where'd You Go Bernadette I have been hooked by a love for epistolary novels which are stories told through a series of documents. In this case the story unfurls through video transcripts, written notes, letters and journal entries.
The basic premise is a twenty something European named A, inherits Axton house in Point Bless, Virginia from a distant relation whom he has never met, but who committed suicide by jumping out of upper story window in the same manner as his father. As soon as A. arrives with his mute companion Niamh all sorts of strange things start occuring.
This book was so much fun. It is clear that the author was influenced by some of my great loves like Scooby Doo and The X Files. How much you love this book will probably be impacted by how many of the references you recognize. The acknowledgements in the front of the book presented in a cipher give a lot of clues about the books inspirations when it is cracked. There are so many genres expressed in this one book. You have a mystery, ghost story, thriller, horror, Southern Gothic and just about every other genre you can think of with the kitchen sink thrown in for good measure. This is not a book you can half pay attention to as you read and to do so would be a mistake. It commands your full attention with minding numbing puzzles and clever clues dropped throughout. Your commitment to the story pays off in the end.
This was my first entry into the R.I.P. challenge held over at Stainless Steel Droppings every year. Although I love a spooky read all year long I especially enjoy this time of year when I can peak into what thrilling reads everyone else is diving into. You can check the challenge out here: http://www.stainlesssteeldroppings.co......more
I have loved the writing of Simone St. James since her first and my favorite book that she's written, The Haunting of Maddy Clare. This is now her thiI have loved the writing of Simone St. James since her first and my favorite book that she's written, The Haunting of Maddy Clare. This is now her third book and she has perfected a formula of Gothic creepiness with a dash of romance that is right up my alley.
In this novel, lead character Kitty, has accepted a job as a nurse at a remote mental hospital that caters to the wealthy, veteran men of the Great War. The Portis house the hospital is ensconced in is falling apart and the previous family that lived there has mysteriously disappeared. The patients are having nightmares but the cause may be more than the horrors they saw in war. An evil presence seems to reside in the house causing some of the patients to attempt to kill themselves in a certain spot. One of my first thoughts with this kind of novel is always why would anyone chose to work in a place clearly fraught with danger. Kitty like many Gothic heroines who are thrust into such situations has no choice. She lied to secure her position and she is penniless with no where else to go. Kitty spends the novel attempting to get to the bottom of the secrets of Portis House while trying to hide a few secrets of her own.
I adore Gothic historical fiction so I was pretty happy with Simone's latest novel. The plot kept me turning the pages and I especially enjoy novels set during this time period. Kitty is a spunky heroine who is determined not to let life's set backs hold her back. I enjoyed reading about her as well as the veterans of the Great War who inhabit the hospital. Simone has written another engaging novel and I look forward to her next novel about mediums with anticipation....more
Eliza Caine's father has recently passed leaving her in unexpected, dire financial straits. When she stumbles upon a job for a governess it seems likeEliza Caine's father has recently passed leaving her in unexpected, dire financial straits. When she stumbles upon a job for a governess it seems like an answer to a prayer. The only problem is when she gets to the house there are no adults, only a young boy and girl. To make matters worse no one in the town will speak to Eliza and it turns out the previous women who held her current job came to some unfortunate ends. Coincidence? Not when this house is haunted.
I loved this Gothic tale so, so much. I enjoyed the two previous John Boyne books I read, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and The Absolutist. With this novel I love him. It is the perfect, ghostly read. I haven't been this entertained since The Woman in Black....more
I have loved Susan Hill ever since I read A Woman in Black. While these were not my favorite of her stories they were still pretty good. The first stoI have loved Susan Hill ever since I read A Woman in Black. While these were not my favorite of her stories they were still pretty good. The first story was about a man who feels a small hand in his constantly tugging towards water. The descriptions of the decaying garden and it's house were wonderful. When Adam finally visits the house and meets it's inhabitant the creepy factor was at a ten. The second story was about two cousins who visit their aunt one summer. The girl, Leonora is given a doll but her ungrateful actions about the gift go on to cause her a lifetime of suffering. I think dolls are naturally creepy anyway and lend themselves perfectly to a horror story. Susan Hill is a master at the English Gothic story. I will always be eager to read whatever she conjures up....more
A young woman wakes up in an asylum. She believes her identity to be that of Georgina Ferrars but she is told that she calls herself Lucy Ashton and sA young woman wakes up in an asylum. She believes her identity to be that of Georgina Ferrars but she is told that she calls herself Lucy Ashton and she voluntarily checked herself in. When it is found that there is a Georgina Ferrras living in the house that "Lucy" says is hers the voluntary stay suddenly becomes involuntary. Compounding the mystery is the whereabouts of two precious items "Georgina/ Lucy" would never be without. After the intriguing set up the rest of the novel unravels who "Lucy" is and how she got there. Is she insane or part of some elaborate set up?
I have read and enjoyed John Harwood's previous two novels. If you are in the mood for some Victorian Goth then Harwood's your author. I kind of wish I could have been patient enough to wait to read this in October. I love my Gothic novels when the nights are dark and there is a chill in the air. Alas I could not wait and dove right in. Twisted family ties and secrets abound for all who care to join in. Out of all of John Harwood's novels this one in particular was reminiscent of a Sarah Waters if you know what I mean....more
This is my second entry into the R.I.P. reading event being held by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings. Head on over for ideas for spine tingling readsThis is my second entry into the R.I.P. reading event being held by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings. Head on over for ideas for spine tingling reads to celebrate the start of autumn. http://www.stainlesssteeldroppings.co...
I really enjoyed this modern take on the Gothic novel. Grace is a young mother raising her infant daughter Millie along with her husband Adam. In a quest to secure a more relaxed lifestyle for their family, Adam convinces Grace to leave London in favor of a cottage in a rural hamlet that he has inherited from his grandparents. Grace arrives home one day from shopping to discover Millie in her pram on the doorstep with no Adam to be found. Incredibly a year goes by with no news of Adam's whereabouts. The police have come to the conclusion that Adam has simply run off which Grace knows in her heart could not be true. Grace returns to the cottage to see if she can close this chapter on her life. Her explorations of the cottage yield clues that Adam did not leave her willingly. Complicating Grace's emotional state is the arrival of her old flame James who still holds a torch of her along with her sister Annabel who means well but who relishes the big city life and clearly does not fit in the town. Is Grace's cottage haunted? Do the mysterious villagers hold clues to what happened to Adam? And how does handyman Ben who is renovating the cottage for Grace fit into everything? Tensions increase between the villagers, especially matriarch Meredith who lives in the big house, and Grace as she searches for the answers to what really happened to her husband Adam.
This book read like a homage to the all time great goth books. Grace's bookshelf contains Wuthering Heights, The Turn of the Screw, Jane Eyre, and Great Expectations. Oh and by the way she's reading Rebecca. You can't get any bigger hint than that as to where the author's inspiration lies. All of the ingredients of a good Gothic tale are present, you have the isolated English village, ghostly activity , twisted, incestuous family relationships, and a spooky house. All of the classic elements are present but with a modern twist making this the perfect choice for the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril, reading event. ...more
I haven't loved a Gothic ghost story this much since A Woman in Black. This novel somehow manages to combine historical fiction, romance, and horror iI haven't loved a Gothic ghost story this much since A Woman in Black. This novel somehow manages to combine historical fiction, romance, and horror in such a wonderful way that I could not put it down.
In this novel Sarah Piper is hired by Alistair Gellis, who having survived horror in WWI is now interested in the paranormal. Alistair's regular assistant Matthew is on temporary leave and it's just as well because the haunting that they need to investigate is being done by the man hating Maddy. Maddy is very real ghost and very pissed off about something. Eventually Matthew joins Daphne and Fred, I mean Sarah and Alistair and they proceed to solve the mystery that is Maddy.
This story definitely had parallels to another favorite ghost story of mine, Stephen Kings Bag of Bones. Maybe that is why it was so quickly obvious to me what had happened to Maddy. It seems damaged people touched by death make the best ghost hunters. While the concept of the book was not completely original I still loved many aspect of it. I enjoyed the time period the book was set in, Maisie Dobbs fans should be all over this. I also loved the characters and was rooting for the developments of the relationships in the book. The back of this book contained an excerpt for the author's new novel to be released next year. I look forward to reading it in March...more
I picked this up based on a recommendation I saw from Stephen King in Entertainment Weekly. I had high hopes for this book but it never took off for mI picked this up based on a recommendation I saw from Stephen King in Entertainment Weekly. I had high hopes for this book but it never took off for me. There were many places where I had to force myself to get through it. The novel takes place when Andrew Taylor, fresh from being dismissed from his American prep school due to drugs, enrolls in the Harrow boarding school in England. Andrew bears a remarkable likeness to the poet, Lord Byron and his arrival at the school seems to set off a string of illness and deaths. In my opinion the pacing was not good. For most of the book nothing happens and then it is all wrapped up in the final chapters. In addition I did not like the characters. Some characteristics that could be ascribed to them include cold blooded, black mailing, stalker, murderer, promiscuous, and drug abuser. There were some graphic scenes, if it was a movie it would be rated R. I love a good Gothic English ghost story but I found this to be a let down. It made me long for the first time I read the far superior A Woman in Black....more
This is the first book I've chosen to read for the R.I.P. reading event hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings. If you are interested in an atmosThis is the first book I've chosen to read for the R.I.P. reading event hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings. If you are interested in an atmospheric autumn read then head on over for lot's of great ideas. It's my favorite reading event of the year and this book is a perfect choice to curl up with, along with something warm to drink on a spooky fall night.
This book reminded me of a beautiful Appalachian quilt, the kind that tells a story in the fabric pieces. The main event that ties this novel together is the death of the handsome but no good Hobbs Pritchard. What makes this novel unique is that the story is narrated by different women who are each affected by Hobbs cruelty. Every woman's piece of the story contributes to the overall arc of the story. To say anymore would be to ruin the surprises that are in store for the reader. Even though parts of the novel do not seem connected everything is ties together in the end. I loved the setting of Black Mountain which was almost a character in itself. The mountain holds on to the sins and the spirits of the people who reside on it. Quiet a few of the characters can see "hanks" the spirits of the departed which makes this the perfect autumn read. The author has such a way with phrasing. Many times I stopped reading and repeated a phrase in my head because the words of a character were so beautifully written in a colloquial way.
I thoroughly enjoyed this beautifully written book. The writing was excellent and the story plot kept me guessing with it's twists and turns like a road on Black mountain. This was an wonderful way to kick off R.I.P. and I highly recommend it....more
Much like The Heiress was reminiscent of of Gone with the Wind and Forever Amber, The Lantern is a tribute to Rebeca and Jane Eyre. What is old becomeMuch like The Heiress was reminiscent of of Gone with the Wind and Forever Amber, The Lantern is a tribute to Rebeca and Jane Eyre. What is old becomes new again in Provence France. This is the IT book for fall. Gothic lovers enthralled with the Thirteenth Tale will find much to love here. If you have not already picked this up you may want to join in the reading group for RIP at Stainless Steel Droppings taking place for three weeks in October. The echos of ghosts real or imagined make this the atmospheric read for fall. I however, could not wait that long.
The novel has two stories that run simultaneously. The first takes place in Provence France in the current time in a crumbling estate called Les Genevries. Eve has a world wind courtship with Dom and then move from England into Les Genevries. At first Eve is happy but as time goes on she feels distrustful of Dom when she begins to realize how isolated she is and that she does not really know that much about his past especially the part concerning his first wife Rachel whom he refuses to talk about. Things reach a critical level when dead bodies turn up during their pool renovation and Dom is the prime suspect. The second story also takes place at Les Genevries but in the past. Benedicte lives there with her siblings, the blind Marthe and her psychopathic brother Pierre. This is the more Gothic part of the story. Basically everything that the author can come up with is thrown at poor Benedicte, murder, incest, adultry, abortion, suicide, by the end of the story nothing will surprise you. If all those things happpened in a house, I think you would expect it to be haunted. Both stories are tied up neatly together by the end in the character of Sabine who has ties to both Benedicte and Eve.
I read a lot of reviews that say this book starts off slow. It wasn't slow for me so much as confusing. The author does not come right out and say who is talking so sometimes I was left wondering if it was Benedicte or Eve though this problem did not last long as both stories quickly became clear and separate. My main problem was Dom and Eve. Every time Eve asked about Rachel, Dom would clam up or get testy and Eve would drop it. I would have never let it drop until I found out every last detail about her and if he wasn't telling I would have left long ago. It was maddening. I wanted someone to give Eve a backbone. Finally I just suspended reality in order to move past it because it was driving me crazy. For crying out aloud she could have googled her! I found Benedicte's story to be the more compelling one even if it was drama laden. The last pages of the book fly by in part because secrets are revealed and chapters are short, often only one or two pages long giving the feeling that you are speeding along. I won't give away the secret of Dom's wife but if you are familiar with Jane Eyre and Rebecca you can guess easily.
I did really like this book because of my love of Jane Eyre and Rebecca. I knew I would be hooked when I read in the description the words Gothic and France. The writing is beautiful, especially the description of the plants and smells. The food wasn't too shabby either. I wanted to go out and buy something lavender after finishing this book. If you can suspend your disbelief then by all means join Eve and Benedicte by getting lost in the lavender of Provence, France this fall....more
I picked this book up when I saw Daniel Radcliff, Harry Potter himself was going to be starring in the screen adaption of the book. I loved this book.I picked this book up when I saw Daniel Radcliff, Harry Potter himself was going to be starring in the screen adaption of the book. I loved this book. I think it will be perfect for him to star in. I love the Gothic setting of the misty English manner on the moors. This is a slim little book perfect for a straight read through.
The story is about Arthur Kipp who is an old man and on his second family when we meet him. His stepchild asks him to tell a ghost story and he is so unnerved by the request that he snaps at his family. Wanting to make amends he decides to write his actual ghostly experience for his wife. As a young lawyer he was called to Eel Marsh house to settle the estate of Mrs. Drablow. What unfolds next is the story of what happens in the house and ultimately what became of his first family.
This a great Gothic ghost story. It was a quick read and I could not put it down. I would recommend it to lovers of the English ghost story. ...more