Completely forgot to review this when I finished it, can now barely remember it. Moderately entertaining but uninspired Gothic in which the heroine spends 90% of the book sorting papers in a spooky attic and searching for her perennially missing dog, with occasional interludes in which someone whomps her over the head, shoots at her, or ties her up.

The concluding explanation of what the hell was going on is less amusingly deranged than one might hope from Holland (author of the deliciously wacky Trelawny, in which twin brothers impersonate each other until she didn't know which was which), but did manage to bring in multiple villains, an exploding car, international intrigue, a completely pasted-on-yay romance, and surprise!secret Israeli agents valiantly uncovering an incomprehensible plot by anti-Semites. Why this was all going on at a lonely British house and involved the heroine and her dog, only Holland knew.
Unlike many others in my high school, I didn’t read Flowers in the Attic (Dollanganger) then. It had a black cover with scary zombie children, and I was under the impression that it was horror about vampires. Much later I learned that it was actually about incestuous children in an attic. I have now read it, and believe that I have discovered the source of fandom’s incest obsession, at least that incest-happy section of fandom which is American and read the book in their formative years.

This is a great book to read on a plane, especially when you can poke your seatmate and read bits aloud. In the first chapter, titled “Goodbye, Daddy,” a highway patrolman comes to the house of the lovely Momma and her four children, Chris, Cathy, Carrie, and Cory. His explanation of what happened is a typical example of how Andrews fulfills expectations (Dad was squashed on the highway) and then takes them not just one, but at least two steps further into feverish melodrama than one expects:

”According to the accounts, which we’ve recorded, there was a motorist driving a blue Ford weaving in and out of the lefthand lane, apparently drunk, and he crashed head-on into your husband’s car. But it seems your husband must have seen the accident coming, for he swerved to avoid a head-on collision, but a piece of machinery had fallen from another car, or truck, and this kept him from completing his defensive driving maneuver, which would have saved his life. But as it was, your husband’s much heavier car turned over several times, and still he might have survived, but an oncoming truck, unable to stop, crashed into his car, and again the Cadillac spun over… and then… it caught on fire.”

As if those THREE accidents weren’t enough, the cop then produces the charred stuffed animals Daddy had purchased for his kids, which he had been driving home to deliver but which ended up strewn across the highway of death!

Momma then whisks her kids away to the ominous house of her parents, who hate her. I had thought the mention, early on, that Momma and Daddy looked like brother and sister was foreshadowing for the upcoming incest. No! It was foreshadowing for the revelation that Momma and Daddy were, in fact, related. He was her half-uncle! So her mother hates her and her incestuous spawn, and Momma and grandmother lock all four kids in the attic until Momma can find the right moment to tell her ailing father about them. Or for the aging father to will her tons of money and die.

Three years of increasingly melodramatic child abuse in the attic ensues. The grandmother spots Chris seeing Cathy naked and tries to hack off her hair. Then she sneaks in, injects Cathy with a sedative, and pours tar over her head. Chris pees into the bathtub to de-tar Cathy’s hair, and it comes out silver and more beautiful than ever. Grandmother doesn’t feed them for a week, and Chris cuts his wrist with a penknife and feeds the others on his own blood!

Momma re-marries and STILL doesn’t let them out of the attic. Chris and Cathy angst and lust over each other. Cathy sneaks out and beholds Momma’s bed, which is shaped like a swan.

And then came the most melodramatic twist yet!

Read more... )
Two Gothics!

The Wizard's Daughter is, I think, the only one of hers which isn’t in first person. It’s in omniscient, with a narrator who wryly comments on the heroine Marianne’s naivete, speculates on what Freud might have to say about Marianne’s dreams of her father, and mentions that no one yet knew the concept of allergies. More than any of Michaels’ Gothics but Someone in the House, it’s almost a Gothic parody.

When innocent and extravagantly beautiful (silver-gilt curls) Marianne is left penniless after her father’s death, she gets caught up in evil nightclubs, séances, and questions about her parentage. She ends up trying to call up her father’s ghost in a house inhabited by assorted peculiar characters, from an insane gardener who lurks in closets to an aunt with hundreds of cats. It’s very funny, down to the explanation of Marianne’s psychic trances and the revelation of the true fate of her father.

Read more... )

The Master of Blacktower, one of Michaels’ earlier novels, starts out more seriously, with Damaris (red-gold curls,) also orphaned after her father’s death, taking a position as secretary to the Master of Blacktower in rural Scotland, where servants and peasants make dire warnings in phonetic dialect. The Master has a scarred face and black silk gloves which he never takes off. At one point Damaris is shoved off a turret, caught, then dropped. To prove that he wasn’t the one who caught and dropped her, the Master inquires whether the person who grabbed her had all his or her fingers, then whips off his gloves, revealing that he’s missing several fingers and the glove fingers are stuffed with cotton!

Sadly, this is not supposed to be hilarious (I think) though as [livejournal.com profile] coraa pointed out you’d think that Damaris would have noticed before that only some of his fingers ever moved. Then there’s a rather random duel, people thought to be dead return, and several characters fall to their deaths in the Very Same Pool that killed the Master’s first wife. It’s ridiculous but not really played for laughs, which in this case makes it less funny than The Wizard’s Daughter.
Two Gothics!

The Wizard's Daughter is, I think, the only one of hers which isn’t in first person. It’s in omniscient, with a narrator who wryly comments on the heroine Marianne’s naivete, speculates on what Freud might have to say about Marianne’s dreams of her father, and mentions that no one yet knew the concept of allergies. More than any of Michaels’ Gothics but Someone in the House, it’s almost a Gothic parody.

When innocent and extravagantly beautiful (silver-gilt curls) Marianne is left penniless after her father’s death, she gets caught up in evil nightclubs, séances, and questions about her parentage. She ends up trying to call up her father’s ghost in a house inhabited by assorted peculiar characters, from an insane gardener who lurks in closets to an aunt with hundreds of cats. It’s very funny, down to the explanation of Marianne’s psychic trances and the revelation of the true fate of her father.

Read more... )

The Master of Blacktower, one of Michaels’ earlier novels, starts out more seriously, with Damaris (red-gold curls,) also orphaned after her father’s death, taking a position as secretary to the Master of Blacktower in rural Scotland, where servants and peasants make dire warnings in phonetic dialect. The Master has a scarred face and black silk gloves which he never takes off. At one point Damaris is shoved off a turret, caught, then dropped. To prove that he wasn’t the one who caught and dropped her, the Master inquires whether the person who grabbed her had all his or her fingers, then whips off his gloves, revealing that he’s missing several fingers and the glove fingers are stuffed with cotton!

Sadly, this is not supposed to be hilarious (I think) though as [livejournal.com profile] coraa pointed out you’d think that Damaris would have noticed before that only some of his fingers ever moved. Then there’s a rather random duel, people thought to be dead return, and several characters fall to their deaths in the Very Same Pool that killed the Master’s first wife. It’s ridiculous but not really played for laughs, which in this case makes it less funny than The Wizard’s Daughter.
An obscure Gothic by the author of one of my very favorite children’s book, the seminal psychic kid novel The Girl With the Silver Eyes (Apple Paperbacks). The latter holds up well to reading as an adult, or at least I still enjoy it.

Return to Darkness is entertaining but forgettable, though enlivened by some memorably ridiculous plot twists. Young RN Brianne Jorgensen takes a job as the private duty nurse to Simon Ruechelle, an old man who has had a stroke, because her mother never speaks about her family, and Brianne suspects that they are the same Ruechelles. The family is weird, Simon can’t speak, and ominous lipsticked messages appear on Brianne’s mirror!

The second-best part is the reveal:
Read more... )
The best part of this book was the ads for other Lancer Gothics. If anyone can locate and mail these to me, I will certainly read and review them:

Inherit the Darkness (also by Roberts): Thomasina must find her missing twin—before they both die!

These lack blurbs but make up for it with the titles alone: Curse of the Island Pool, An Air That Kills, Ghost of Ravenkill Manor, The Ashes of Falconwyk, Gemini in Darkness, Bride of Terror, Jewels of Terror, Castle Terror (the last is by Marion Zimmer Bradley!), Children of the Griffin (sadly, the griffin is almost certainly metaphorical) and best of all, The Love of Lucifer.

Vanish with the Rose.

I am very fond of Barbara Michaels, though I never got into her other series’ as Elizabeth Peters. Her Michaels Gothics and romantic suspense generally have sensible and tough heroines, likable heroes, and clever twists on genre expectations.

When lawyer Diana’s brother disappears after caretaking at a historic estate, Diana decides to impersonate a landscaper to gain access to the property without raising suspicions. As one does. As she frantically tries to keep up with the charming old lady owner’s knowledge of rose history and botany while searching for clues to her brother’s fate, she is haunted by spooky visions, flirted with by the owner’s eccentric son and manly handyman, stalked by a local wife beater, and forced to face her own family dysfunction.

All these threads come together in a surprising yet satisfying manner. I especially liked the resolution of the romance and the lesson that there is much more to fluttery old ladies than meets the eye. The ghost is creepy, the characters are appropriately likable or hissable, the history and rose lore is interesting, there are some very funny bits, and the whole story is much more thematically coherent than I had expected. If you like this sort of thing, this is an excellent example of it. I have more Michaels reviews under her author tag.
An obscure Gothic by the author of one of my very favorite children’s book, the seminal psychic kid novel The Girl With the Silver Eyes (Apple Paperbacks). The latter holds up well to reading as an adult, or at least I still enjoy it.

Return to Darkness is entertaining but forgettable, though enlivened by some memorably ridiculous plot twists. Young RN Brianne Jorgensen takes a job as the private duty nurse to Simon Ruechelle, an old man who has had a stroke, because her mother never speaks about her family, and Brianne suspects that they are the same Ruechelles. The family is weird, Simon can’t speak, and ominous lipsticked messages appear on Brianne’s mirror!

The second-best part is the reveal:
Read more... )
The best part of this book was the ads for other Lancer Gothics. If anyone can locate and mail these to me, I will certainly read and review them:

Inherit the Darkness (also by Roberts): Thomasina must find her missing twin—before they both die!

These lack blurbs but make up for it with the titles alone: Curse of the Island Pool, An Air That Kills, Ghost of Ravenkill Manor, The Ashes of Falconwyk, Gemini in Darkness, Bride of Terror, Jewels of Terror, Castle Terror (the last is by Marion Zimmer Bradley!), Children of the Griffin (sadly, the griffin is almost certainly metaphorical) and best of all, The Love of Lucifer.

Vanish with the Rose.

I am very fond of Barbara Michaels, though I never got into her other series’ as Elizabeth Peters. Her Michaels Gothics and romantic suspense generally have sensible and tough heroines, likable heroes, and clever twists on genre expectations.

When lawyer Diana’s brother disappears after caretaking at a historic estate, Diana decides to impersonate a landscaper to gain access to the property without raising suspicions. As one does. As she frantically tries to keep up with the charming old lady owner’s knowledge of rose history and botany while searching for clues to her brother’s fate, she is haunted by spooky visions, flirted with by the owner’s eccentric son and manly handyman, stalked by a local wife beater, and forced to face her own family dysfunction.

All these threads come together in a surprising yet satisfying manner. I especially liked the resolution of the romance and the lesson that there is much more to fluttery old ladies than meets the eye. The ghost is creepy, the characters are appropriately likable or hissable, the history and rose lore is interesting, there are some very funny bits, and the whole story is much more thematically coherent than I had expected. If you like this sort of thing, this is an excellent example of it. I have more Michaels reviews under her author tag.
When Jennifer goes to France to meet her cousin, she finds that the cousin has died mysteriously at a convent without ever mentioning that she had relatives… and after admiring blue flowers when she has that rare condition, blue-yellow colorblindness!

This starts off with great fun and energy, then dissolves into uninteresting running and fighting with interludes of objectionable gender issues. I was put off by Stephen, a veteran and genius composer. The more the author praises him, the less the reader, or at least this reader, likes him.

He condescends to Jennifer and is totally useless and actively unhelpful in her quest to help her learn the truth about her cousin. When she desperately begs him for help, he agrees and then gets beaten up by the bad guy—which makes Jennifer realize that he is a supremely civilized man to whom violence is repugnant and that makes him totally awesome, and she was a stupid little girl to imagine that he could save her cousin by means of bad-assery because knights are imaginary and this is the real world. He proceeds to save the day. Oh, and a rapist (not Stephen) turns out to be kind of a cool guy.

I think this is the only one of Stewart's Gothics that's in third person rather than first. Despite the presence of potentially amusingly over the top elements like evil nuns, there's a general sense of going through the motions.

Not recommended. Thunder on the Right

Click the author tag to find my reviews of better books by Mary Stewart. These are my favorites, which I am pleased to see are all still in print:

Madam, Will You Talk?. The hero is a jerk, but the writing is wonderfully witty and distinctive. The plot is a farrago of exciting chases through beautifully described countryside, interspersed with banter.

The Ivy Tree. One of my very favorite tales of impersonation, which is a favorite trope of mine.

Nine Coaches Waiting. A perfectly Gothic Gothic, well-written and pleasing.

And, of course, there's her Arthurian novels, beginning with The Crystal Cave (The Arthurian Saga, Book 1)

Speak to me of your favorite (and least favorite) Stewart novels. I think the ones I haven't read yet are Wildfire at Midnight, This Rough Magic, The Wind off the Small Isles, Stormy Petrel, Rose Cottage, and her children's books.
When Jennifer goes to France to meet her cousin, she finds that the cousin has died mysteriously at a convent without ever mentioning that she had relatives… and after admiring blue flowers when she has that rare condition, blue-yellow colorblindness!

This starts off with great fun and energy, then dissolves into uninteresting running and fighting with interludes of objectionable gender issues. I was put off by Stephen, a veteran and genius composer. The more the author praises him, the less the reader, or at least this reader, likes him.

He condescends to Jennifer and is totally useless and actively unhelpful in her quest to help her learn the truth about her cousin. When she desperately begs him for help, he agrees and then gets beaten up by the bad guy—which makes Jennifer realize that he is a supremely civilized man to whom violence is repugnant and that makes him totally awesome, and she was a stupid little girl to imagine that he could save her cousin by means of bad-assery because knights are imaginary and this is the real world. He proceeds to save the day. Oh, and a rapist (not Stephen) turns out to be kind of a cool guy.

I think this is the only one of Stewart's Gothics that's in third person rather than first. Despite the presence of potentially amusingly over the top elements like evil nuns, there's a general sense of going through the motions.

Not recommended. Thunder on the Right

Click the author tag to find my reviews of better books by Mary Stewart. These are my favorites, which I am pleased to see are all still in print:

Madam, Will You Talk?. The hero is a jerk, but the writing is wonderfully witty and distinctive. The plot is a farrago of exciting chases through beautifully described countryside, interspersed with banter.

The Ivy Tree. One of my very favorite tales of impersonation, which is a favorite trope of mine.

Nine Coaches Waiting. A perfectly Gothic Gothic, well-written and pleasing.

And, of course, there's her Arthurian novels, beginning with The Crystal Cave (The Arthurian Saga, Book 1)

Speak to me of your favorite (and least favorite) Stewart novels. I think the ones I haven't read yet are Wildfire at Midnight, This Rough Magic, The Wind off the Small Isles, Stormy Petrel, Rose Cottage, and her children's books.
The bookshop had a Gothic section! Complete with a series with titles like Alice, the Desperate and Ilene, the Superstitious. There was a complete list on the inside cover, but sadly the shop did not have Rachel, the Possessed.

Every single Gothic had a cover with a girl and a house. Some variations included a nurse, a doctor, and a house; a girl, a zombie Abraham Lincoln-esque figure, and a house; and, in the exoticized ethnicity category, a girl and the Taj Mahal, and a girl and a casa (according to the back cover.)

I now own...

The Satan Stone, by Louise Osborne. The great isolated mansion of Penetralia loomed bizarre and forbidding...

(There's no way that isn't deliberate, right? Right?)

Return to Darkness, by Willo David Roberts, author of many charming children's books including the seminal psychic kids novel The Girl With The Silver Eyes. Her Gothic heroine is a private duty nurse.

The Veil of Night by Lydia Joyce. Recced by Oyce as a sweet revisionist Gothic. Some desires flourish only in darkness...

Seimaden # 1 by Higuri You. What becomes of a man who spends his life in the underworld for a love that lasts beyond the grave?? This sounds Gothic, but it's actually manga, and very '80s-looking manga at that.

Two children's books, The Battle for Castle Cockatrice by Gerald Durrell and The Tiger's Apprentice by Laurence Yep.

Anyone ever read any of these?
The bookshop had a Gothic section! Complete with a series with titles like Alice, the Desperate and Ilene, the Superstitious. There was a complete list on the inside cover, but sadly the shop did not have Rachel, the Possessed.

Every single Gothic had a cover with a girl and a house. Some variations included a nurse, a doctor, and a house; a girl, a zombie Abraham Lincoln-esque figure, and a house; and, in the exoticized ethnicity category, a girl and the Taj Mahal, and a girl and a casa (according to the back cover.)

I now own...

The Satan Stone, by Louise Osborne. The great isolated mansion of Penetralia loomed bizarre and forbidding...

(There's no way that isn't deliberate, right? Right?)

Return to Darkness, by Willo David Roberts, author of many charming children's books including the seminal psychic kids novel The Girl With The Silver Eyes. Her Gothic heroine is a private duty nurse.

The Veil of Night by Lydia Joyce. Recced by Oyce as a sweet revisionist Gothic. Some desires flourish only in darkness...

Seimaden # 1 by Higuri You. What becomes of a man who spends his life in the underworld for a love that lasts beyond the grave?? This sounds Gothic, but it's actually manga, and very '80s-looking manga at that.

Two children's books, The Battle for Castle Cockatrice by Gerald Durrell and The Tiger's Apprentice by Laurence Yep.

Anyone ever read any of these?
In 1881, meek Hester Marsh inherits her great-uncle Diablo the Great’s riverboat magic show, after he accidentally decapitated his wife onstage while performing a magic trick and then shot himself.

It’s a fest of stereotypes as she meets Gypsy Mara, superstitious black boatmen, and “the embittered dwarf, Quantimo.” And yet, so entertaining! Shadowy figures try to push Hester overboard, spooky women lurk at her bedside, Gypsy Mara croaks dire warnings, handsome men gallop about on stallions, the ghost of decapitated Mary haunts the riverboat, and (since they’re still using it in the act) the guillotine claims another victim!

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s Gypsy Mara explaining what she wants to save Hester from: “From the deep night and the spider’s web. From the crawling things that tunnel in the earth and feed on festering mortals.”

Which I guess is better than festering balls. Though if I understand her correctly, she’s saying that Hester needs to be saved from earthworms.

The only thing this story lacks is a monkey, so I have provided one in my icon.
In 1881, meek Hester Marsh inherits her great-uncle Diablo the Great’s riverboat magic show, after he accidentally decapitated his wife onstage while performing a magic trick and then shot himself.

It’s a fest of stereotypes as she meets Gypsy Mara, superstitious black boatmen, and “the embittered dwarf, Quantimo.” And yet, so entertaining! Shadowy figures try to push Hester overboard, spooky women lurk at her bedside, Gypsy Mara croaks dire warnings, handsome men gallop about on stallions, the ghost of decapitated Mary haunts the riverboat, and (since they’re still using it in the act) the guillotine claims another victim!

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s Gypsy Mara explaining what she wants to save Hester from: “From the deep night and the spider’s web. From the crawling things that tunnel in the earth and feed on festering mortals.”

Which I guess is better than festering balls. Though if I understand her correctly, she’s saying that Hester needs to be saved from earthworms.

The only thing this story lacks is a monkey, so I have provided one in my icon.
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
( May. 31st, 2009 09:54 am)
I picked up four Gothics at a garage sale yesterday. Never read or heard of any of the authors before.

The Golden Unicorn, by Phyllis A. Whitney. On the cover, a unicorn looms over a guy with his hands over his crotch and a maiden draping herself over him, with the obligatory house in the background.

Back cover (reproduced exactly):

They say that the shadow
of the unicorn
will fall over the face
of the moon
and that someone in that
house
will die....

Courtney had been the perfect adopted child. But around her neck hung a time bomb on a chain-- a tiny gold unicorn that brought her face to face with the most violent intrigues of the past-- and the murderer her real mother had not escaped....


Damn, not a real unicorn.

From the inside cover: "Don't try to find out who you are Courtney. You may find horrors you're better off not knowing. Let the door stay closed."

Desperate Heiress, by Marilyn Ross.

Trapped on a haunted showboat, Hester is stalked by an eerie menace who is neither dead nor alive!

According to the back and inside covers, she inherited the showboat from her great-uncle, Diablo the Great, who accidentally beheaded his wife in his "gruesome magic act." She has now inherited the "floating theatre," complete with "the embittered dwarf, Quantimo."

A peek inside shows that this one's racial sensitivity matches its ablism sensitivity. It goes on about some random guy's "white eyeballs in his broad black face" on page one. This does not bode well.

The cover shows the disturbingly pointy-breasted heroine lurking near her evil steamboat.

The Place of Sapphires, by Florence Engel Randall.

On the cover, a surprisingly practically-dressed heroine walks through the moor, ominous house behinf her.

Against the eerie backdrop of a demon-haunted house... two sisters apparently suffer creepy identity confusion.

The Deadly Climate, by Ursula Curtiss.

On the cover, a heroine flees with her arms stuck out from a lurching figure. In the background... wait for it... a house!

I opened this one randomly. I think it'll be the best yet! For context, a man is searching the bedroom of a murdered woman for clues, and finds her robe.

Because there it hung in the shaft of entering light, shell-pink, alarmingly sheer, as random as a butterfly in a filing cabinet.

Was it even a robe? Carmichael suspected that it had borne some far prouder name in the department store where it had been bought.


(Carmichael examines the robe in minute detail for another paragraph.)

Whatever it was, it had a pocket. Not a utilitarian square wuth a slitted mouth, but a coy little cup of pale pink, capped with lace. Because it was the only pocket he had so far encountered in this room, and therefore the only place conceivably unsearched, Carmichael slid two fingers automatically inside.

I need a cigarette!
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
( May. 31st, 2009 09:54 am)
I picked up four Gothics at a garage sale yesterday. Never read or heard of any of the authors before.

The Golden Unicorn, by Phyllis A. Whitney. On the cover, a unicorn looms over a guy with his hands over his crotch and a maiden draping herself over him, with the obligatory house in the background.

Back cover (reproduced exactly):

They say that the shadow
of the unicorn
will fall over the face
of the moon
and that someone in that
house
will die....

Courtney had been the perfect adopted child. But around her neck hung a time bomb on a chain-- a tiny gold unicorn that brought her face to face with the most violent intrigues of the past-- and the murderer her real mother had not escaped....


Damn, not a real unicorn.

From the inside cover: "Don't try to find out who you are Courtney. You may find horrors you're better off not knowing. Let the door stay closed."

Desperate Heiress, by Marilyn Ross.

Trapped on a haunted showboat, Hester is stalked by an eerie menace who is neither dead nor alive!

According to the back and inside covers, she inherited the showboat from her great-uncle, Diablo the Great, who accidentally beheaded his wife in his "gruesome magic act." She has now inherited the "floating theatre," complete with "the embittered dwarf, Quantimo."

A peek inside shows that this one's racial sensitivity matches its ablism sensitivity. It goes on about some random guy's "white eyeballs in his broad black face" on page one. This does not bode well.

The cover shows the disturbingly pointy-breasted heroine lurking near her evil steamboat.

The Place of Sapphires, by Florence Engel Randall.

On the cover, a surprisingly practically-dressed heroine walks through the moor, ominous house behinf her.

Against the eerie backdrop of a demon-haunted house... two sisters apparently suffer creepy identity confusion.

The Deadly Climate, by Ursula Curtiss.

On the cover, a heroine flees with her arms stuck out from a lurching figure. In the background... wait for it... a house!

I opened this one randomly. I think it'll be the best yet! For context, a man is searching the bedroom of a murdered woman for clues, and finds her robe.

Because there it hung in the shaft of entering light, shell-pink, alarmingly sheer, as random as a butterfly in a filing cabinet.

Was it even a robe? Carmichael suspected that it had borne some far prouder name in the department store where it had been bought.


(Carmichael examines the robe in minute detail for another paragraph.)

Whatever it was, it had a pocket. Not a utilitarian square wuth a slitted mouth, but a coy little cup of pale pink, capped with lace. Because it was the only pocket he had so far encountered in this room, and therefore the only place conceivably unsearched, Carmichael slid two fingers automatically inside.

I need a cigarette!
Welcome back to insane cracktastic Gothic land!

In a moment of synchronicity, last Friday I was invited to share some Belgian chocolates labeled individually by province. Unfortunately, the font's capital I looked much like a small l, and so when asked to choose, I said, "I'll take the leper!"

I do not often come across books containing leprosy, though when I read Darcourt I immediately regretted forgetting about the YA novel in which the heroine develops leprosy, watches her mother agonizingly die of rot, is shipped off to a leper colony, and dies, the end -- I would have certainly included it in my YA agony award nominations if I had. (The Dark Light.) I was also reminded of Thomas Covenant. Normally I don't find characters whiny if they have something to whine about. But Covenant managed to be so whiny that I thought, "Oh, get over your leprosy already!"

Young journalist Sally Wainwright impersonates a friend of hers in order to get hired as governess for a wealthy teenager on Darcourt Island. The island is owned by reclusive billionaire Tristram Darcourt. Sally is ostensibly doing this to write an expose on him, but really because her mother was jilted by him and she wants to find out what happened. (She can't ask because both her parents are now dead.)

Teenage Alix is wild and has a Mysterious Skin Condition for which she takes Mysterious Meds. Darcourt is high-handed and arrogant. He is also said to have let his brother die in the super-quick quicksand which is featured in the Mysterious Marsh surrounding the house, into which Sally is forbidden to go. Sally is promply menaced by snakes and scorpions released in her room, plus Mysterious Figures, and people shooting at her, whomping her over the head, and trying to kill her dog.

Could it be the Mysterious Mrs. Darcourt, alternately said to be in the south of France and lurking in Mysterious Marsh?! Or the off-stage Mysterious Middle Eastern Group which is the subject of a code-named Pentagon study? Or Andre, who is a cousin or something? Or some blonde kid with a cowlick?

LEPER OUTCAST UNCLEAN!!!!! )
Welcome back to insane cracktastic Gothic land!

In a moment of synchronicity, last Friday I was invited to share some Belgian chocolates labeled individually by province. Unfortunately, the font's capital I looked much like a small l, and so when asked to choose, I said, "I'll take the leper!"

I do not often come across books containing leprosy, though when I read Darcourt I immediately regretted forgetting about the YA novel in which the heroine develops leprosy, watches her mother agonizingly die of rot, is shipped off to a leper colony, and dies, the end -- I would have certainly included it in my YA agony award nominations if I had. I was also reminded of Thomas Covenant. Normally I don't find characters whiny if they have something to whine about. But Covenant managed to be so whiny that I thought, "Oh, get over your leprosy already!"

Young journalist Sally Wainwright impersonates a friend of hers in order to get hired as governess for a wealthy teenager on Darcourt Island. The island is owned by reclusive billionaire Tristram Darcourt. Sally is ostensibly doing this to write an expose on him, but really because her mother was jilted by him and she wants to find out what happened. (She can't ask because both her parents are now dead.)

Teenage Alix is wild and has a Mysterious Skin Condition for which she takes Mysterious Meds. Darcourt is high-handed and arrogant. He is also said to have let his brother die in the super-quick quicksand which is featured in the Mysterious Marsh surrounding the house, into which Sally is forbidden to go. Sally is promply menaced by snakes and scorpions released in her room, plus Mysterious Figures, and people shooting at her, whomping her over the head, and trying to kill her dog.

Could it be the Mysterious Mrs. Darcourt, alternately said to be in the south of France and lurking in Mysterious Marsh?! Or the off-stage Mysterious Middle Eastern Group which is the subject of a code-named Pentagon study? Or Andre, who is a cousin or something? Or some blonde kid with a cowlick?

LEPER OUTCAST UNCLEAN!!!!! )
While it apparently can’t compete with gems from the 1700s and 1800s, featuring mad monks, demon dwarfs, and attempted rapes in hot air balloons, Trelawny is an excellent specimen of the modern Gothic which fulfilled every bit of the promise of its back cover copy, except that sadly both mammoths and tentacles were inventions of the back cover copy author and do not appear in the book. The final six pages alone contain at least nine hilariously head-spinning plot twists, and such intricate interwoven impersonations that I am still not one hundred percent sure who several characters actually are.

The huge, ghastly mansion Trelawny Fell has been held by the snooty Trelawny family since Nicholas Trelawny left his identical twin brother Giles behind in Cornwall and moved to Boston just in time for the American Revolution. But Giles was hanged as a highwayman and Nicholas hanged himself from a beam in one of the tentacle-like attics in Trelawny Fell. And ever since, every fifty years, a Trelawny has hung him or herself from that very beam!

Kit Trelawny was the product of a Trelawny father (missing; legally dead) and a country mother (definitely dead) from Wyoming. She was traumatized as a child when her dying mother attempted to foist her on the snooty Trelawnys, and they were both ridiculed and snubbed. Kit crushed on the handsome identical Trelawny twins, named Nicholas and Giles as is traditional for Trelawny twins-- and twins, like insanity and snootiness, run in the family. Mean Nicholas almost drowned her, and sullen Giles rescued her from a runaway horse. Kit and Mom left.

Now Kit is an adult, and has inherited Trelawny Fell, since Nicholas and Giles are both MIA in the Vietnam war and presumed dead. (Yeah, right.) She decides to turn it into an artist’s colony, and invites an assortment of counterculture artists. She gets lost and locked up inside the labyrinthine attics, hears spectral footsteps, and sees ghostly figures. There is poisoned stew, rabid rats, and exactly halfway through, the plot really gets cooking.

Unless you're definitely planning to read the novel, you will regret not clicking )
While it apparently can’t compete with gems from the 1700s and 1800s, featuring mad monks, demon dwarfs, and attempted rapes in hot air balloons, Trelawny is an excellent specimen of the modern Gothic which fulfilled every bit of the promise of its back cover copy, except that sadly both mammoths and tentacles were inventions of the back cover copy author and do not appear in the book. The final six pages alone contain at least nine hilariously head-spinning plot twists, and such intricate interwoven impersonations that I am still not one hundred percent sure who several characters actually are.

The huge, ghastly mansion Trelawny Fell has been held by the snooty Trelawny family since Nicholas Trelawny left his identical twin brother Giles behind in Cornwall and moved to Boston just in time for the American Revolution. But Giles was hanged as a highwayman and Nicholas hanged himself from a beam in one of the tentacle-like attics in Trelawny Fell. And ever since, every fifty years, a Trelawny has hung him or herself from that very beam!

Kit Trelawny was the product of a Trelawny father (missing; legally dead) and a country mother (definitely dead) from Wyoming. She was traumatized as a child when her dying mother attempted to foist her on the snooty Trelawnys, and they were both ridiculed and snubbed. Kit crushed on the handsome identical Trelawny twins, named Nicholas and Giles as is traditional for Trelawny twins-- and twins, like insanity and snootiness, run in the family. Mean Nicholas almost drowned her, and sullen Giles rescued her from a runaway horse. Kit and Mom left.

Now Kit is an adult, and has inherited Trelawny Fell, since Nicholas and Giles are both MIA in the Vietnam war and presumed dead. (Yeah, right.) She decides to turn it into an artist’s colony, and invites an assortment of counterculture artists. She gets lost and locked up inside the labyrinthine attics, hears spectral footsteps, and sees ghostly figures. There is poisoned stew, rabid rats, and exactly halfway through, the plot really gets cooking.

Unless you're definitely planning to read the novel, you will regret not clicking )
.

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