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Elizabeth: A Novel of the Unnatural

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3.78  ·  Rating details ·  420 ratings  ·  82 reviews
“If you were to go into your bedroom tonight – perhaps by candlelight – and sit quietly before the large mirror, you might see what I have seen. Sit patiently, looking neither at yourself nor at the glass. You might notice that the image is not yours, but that of an exceptional person who lived at some other time . . .”

The image in the mirror of fourteen-year-old
...more
Paperback, 152 pages
Published 2017 by Valancourt Books (first published 1976)
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Average rating 3.78  · 
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 ·  420 ratings  ·  82 reviews


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Char
NEVER have I been so unsettled reading a book narrated by a 14 year old girl. But perhaps that is because Elizabeth is not your ordinary teenager. She's descended from a long line of witches and is now discovering the power within her. Or is she? You'll have to read this to find out!

The prose in this book is simply outstanding. It's chilling at times because the narrator seems to have no feelings whatsoever. She talks about sex, acts of violence, and eating breakfast all in the same tone.
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Jeffrey Keeten
Oct 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror, gothic
”I paused before the mirror. My eyes were half opened, and I touched their outer corners and felt the small crusty deposits that had formed there in the night. I reached down and grasped the hem of my wrinkled nightgown and pulled it over my head. I looked again at the mirror and then shivered and moved away, feeling as though a stranger had been looking at my body.

I enjoyed the feeling.”


Fourteen year old Elizabeth Cuttner is not by any means a normal teenager. Her parents die in an odd boating
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Dan Schwent
Urged on by a ghost named Frances living in her mirror, Elizabeth's first victims were her parents. When she goes to live with relatives, will Frances help Elizabeth kill again?

Elizabeth is yet another book whose existence I would have know inkling of if not for Paperbacks from Hell! I eventually overcame my cheapness and nabbed the ebook.

I'd say Elizabeth is part of the "creepy kids" subgenre of horror, although at 14 and sexually precocious, she's at the upper end of the spectrum. A long dead
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Jack Tripper
Aug 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
One of my favorite horror reads of the past couple years, Elizabeth is narrated in the first-person by the 14 year-old title character, who one day finds she has magical powers, and discovers that she comes from a long line of witches. With the help of Frances, a long-dead witch who appears to Elizabeth in mirrors, she slowly gains more and more power, disposing of anyone who gets in the way of her quest for even more, including family, with a cold indifference that can be rather chilling .

The
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Grady Hendrix
Apr 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ken Greenhall (aka Jessica Hamilton) is the stylistic heir to Shirley Jackson. The fact that he's been forgotten is a sign that the cultural gatekeepers are assholes.
Kimberly
ELIZABETH: A Novel of the Unnatural, by Ken Greenhall, was first released in 1976. This new version from VALANCOURT BOOKS includes an insightful introduction by Jonathan Janz. The story centers upon a young Elizabeth Cuttner, who believes that she sees an image of a woman named Frances, reflected in her mirror one day. Frances, she believes, is a witch that died centuries ago.

"Have you ever thought about mirrors?"

". . . There really is no way to know whether your mirror shows you what others
...more
Latasha
**received the audio book of Elizabeth for a honest review. **

wow!! I had to go back and check when this was first published. 1976. and Elizabeth is 14. this book is all kinds of fucked up. I won't go in to details as to why but just read the first page or listen to the first 30 minutes or so. there is so much "not ok" stuff happening here. with all that said, I loved the story. it's very 1970 witches and that's ok, that's a good thing!
Becca Grabowski did a fantastic job reading. everything
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Sheila
4 stars--I really liked it. Warnings for... well, everything.

This is 70s gothic/horror at its "finest" (if that's the word). It's lurid and purposefully shocking, but I'm a sucker for the tropes of the genre (the manor, the family secrets, the hints of the supernatural). The main character, Elizabeth, is only 14, but instead of going to school, she's seducing adults and plotting with her long-dead witch ancestor. I loved it!

What sets this book above most others in this genre is the writing.
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Kimberly
ELIZABETH: A Novel of the Unnatural, by Ken Greenhall, was first released in 1976. This new version from VALANCOURT BOOKS includes an insightful introduction by Jonathan Janz. The story centers upon a young Elizabeth Cuttner, who believes that she sees an image of a woman named Frances, reflected in her mirror one day. Frances, she believes, is a witch that died centuries ago.

"Have you ever thought about mirrors?"

". . . There really is no way to know whether your mirror shows you what others
...more
Jerry
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Unnerving clarity. Deranged foresight. Yet clouded with shadowed and unknown intent. Throughout this mesmerizing story, I felt that I somehow understood all there was to know about Elizabeth, while at the same time blind to her disturbing conscience. The calm delivery of the amazing events laid out for all to see (and not see) will wrap you up and not allow you to put it down. Unnatural!
Addy
Oct 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know a lot of people loved this book and I can't blame them because it is really good. Just something was eerie that turned me off. The protoganist is very darkly written almost like she has no emotion and maybe that was the point. I can't say I really liked any of the characters because frankly there was nothing to like. All seemed very manipulative and secretive, each harboring their own dark desires. I will say that Elizabeth was very wise in her years. She was very cunning and clever and ...more
Eduardo
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Uncomfortable and disconcerting to the highest possible degree, this is the rare horror novel that actually leaves you speechless at the end. Extremely recommended.
Reeda Booke
Creepy, but good book for all of the reasons already written in its many reviews here. I really enjoy his writing style.
Kurt Reichenbaugh
Mar 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
I've been seeing this novel appear on various blogs I follow and finally have gotten a chance to read it. It's a short and very disturbing story from the POV of fourteen year old Elizabeth. Is she possessed? a witch? a murderer? a manipulative "bad seed"?, a victim of abuse? Or just someone far, far older than her years? Best for the reader to discover Elizabeth's story for themselves. Very much worth reading if you find a copy.
Ficie
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
These young girls who are so secure in their seductiveness, so detached, self-confident and clear-minded, seem to be very popular with male authors. These writers have clearly never been a teenage girl.

When your main character is an unrealistic cliché, the whole book inevitably suffers.
Katie
Probably not fair since I stopped in the middle, but this was pretty yawn-worthy for me. Under normal circumstances, I'd read a book like this in a few hours, but it lost momentum for me in the middle....... .. .... picked up a little at the end but not enough to finish strong.
Rob Twinem
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Elizabeth Cuttner is the narrator in this somewhat disturbing and twisted tale of a 14 year old who has a story to tell. Through a mirror in her room she is influenced by Frances a long dead relative and participant in the medieval practice of witchcraft. This unhealthy partnership unveils a side of Elizabeth that is totally at odds with the quietly spoken and articulate young lady presented to the reader. As the novel unfolds we learn of the tragic death of her parents, the disappearance of her ...more
Marc Moss
Nov 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gothic
Usually not my type of book where the story is written through the eyes of a child, but this book is an exception. Really a book to find, though it is probably hard to come by. I read the Popular Lib. paperback edition.
Joey Shapiro
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Definitely not a perfect book, but in terms of pure enjoyment? This absolutely slayed and I had a very fun time reading about this very disturbed witchy child & her fucked up family!! It’s fun to read a horror novel in which the protagonist is 100% evil but you’re still rooting for her the whole time bc almost everyone else sucks as much or more. big Shirley Jackson vibes—in terms of the narrator’s voice, it reminded me a lot of We Have Always Lived In The Castle—but with less flowery prose ...more
Emily
Jun 30, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"We pretended that our appetites could be satisfied with toast and cereal; that our knowledge of evil was limited to what we learned of it from our morning newspaper."

I read Elizabeth a few days ago, and this had been one of my most anticipated horror novellas. Unfortunately, I ended up feeling a little disappointed. I loved the concept, but I guess I thought it was going to be creepier. I give this book credit for being very unsettling, but I felt a little bored. It was very character-driven,
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Nate
Jun 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elizabeth was my first Ken Greenhall novel, and I am duly impressed. Greenhall's writing is fluid, descriptive, and perfectly elucidates the title character. The book was an enjoyable, elegant read and kept me guessing until the end, where things were left suitably ambiguous. Highly recommended to fans of Valancourt's previous releases and those looking for a good read that provides equal parts supernatural and thought-provoking observations on societal norms.

I purchased the ebook, and the
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Angus McKeogh
May 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Witches! Real witches! Incest? Historical intrigue! Murder and mystery! All that’s included and while it might not be as great as all that; it was still pretty good.
CJ Bourque
Dec 31, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nicole Fleming
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Despite my initial excitement for reading this book, I became slightly more apprehensive upon picking it up due to it being off the back of a 5 star read that has made my top book of the year so far. I thought anything that followed would ultimately not live up to the standard that my previous read had set, especially a fairly short book like "Elizabeth".

Within the first 10 pages I could instantly see I had nothing to worry about. This book captured me from the very beginning, with the most
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Justin Decloux
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A stone-cold horror classic. It's a crime to literature that it's not more well known and has only recently been brought back into print. Everyone deserves to get a chance to read the sociopathic adventures of a teenage witch.
Fornikate S.
Sep 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
This is one of the most unsettling books I have ever read. The descriptions are subtle and brilliant; the undercurrent of sexuality compelling.
Dana Stewart
May 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read the Valancourt edition in one sitting. It was wonderful. Thanks to Grady Hendrix’s “Paperbacks from Hell” for the suggestion!
Justin
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: horror
What did I just read!? I've read a handful of Valancourt reprints of these old school horror classics, and Elizabeth sounded interesting. The back cover doesn't give much away aside from the fact we'll be following 14 year old Elizabeth who meets the dead Frances who introduces her to the world of the supernatural. For me, that was about as interesting as it got. But before I get to my criticisms, I'll mention the positives. From the standpoint of the horror factor, this book delivers (although ...more
Bibliophile
Dec 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Teenage psychopath embraces her witchy ancestry, and just wants to live peacefully in incestuous bliss in her grandmother's Manhattan brownstone, even if it means murder by toad. After my latest Valancourt read, the bonkers When Darkness Loves Us, this felt almost wholesome.
Autumn
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ladies, horror, 70s, witches
Like most folks, I came to this thru Paperbacks from Hell. Plot-wise, it was just OK. The real appeal was Elizabeth's withering, jaded disdain for humanity. She started homeschooling to get away from incessant discussion of "menstruation and baseball", f'rinstance. She lovingly describes the worst thing about everyone she meets. Greenhall provides a psycho's eye view that is, let's face it, often funny if not quite relatable.

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Ken Greenhall was born in Detroit in 1928, the son of immigrants from England. He graduated from high school at age 15, worked at a record store for a time, and was drafted into the military, serving in Germany. He earned his degree from Wayne State University and moved to New York, where he worked as an editor of reference books, first on the staff of the Encyclopedia Americana and later for the ...more
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“I thought it remarkable how similar most poems were to one another even when they had been written centuries apart. Perhaps it was because the behavior of the insane varies little from century to century.” 0 likes
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