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.

He was a medium who was excommunicated and then ran away after someone tried to kill him and became a priest and has been lurking ever since.

Marianne's psychic trances were due to the villain hypnotizing her so she'd go into a "psychic trance" every time he gave her a key word.

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 [ 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.

From: [identity profile]

I remember The Wizard's Daughter! Or at least I remember the silver-gilt curls. Is that the one where the protagonist stood on a stage at some point early in the book, and wry observation was made of her heaving bosom under the black lace? I remember her being kind of Too Stupid To Live, but since the narrative was perfectly aware of that fact, it was hilarious rather than infuriating.

(I think, should I ever wind up living in a Gothic somehow, I will count all the fingers, toes, eyes, ears and limbs of everyone around me, plus note all visible scars, birthmarks and deformities of other kinds. It seems to become relevant surprisingly often! And given when Gothics are usually set, it shouldn't be that hard -- it'd be much trickier in, say, a cyberpunk Gothic, where someone could have actual plausibly hide-able false digits or limbs.)
oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (Default)

From: [personal profile] oyceter

The Wizard's Daughter was, very randomly, the first Barbara Michaels I read! (Bought in the Hong Kong airport 2 years ago...) I love the narrative voice in it and how you are both fond of Marianne even while realizing she is a total ditz.

From: [identity profile]

I've had the feeling the author had a sense of humor about her Gothics....

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