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review 2018-10-22 00:10
I honestly tried
The Castle of Otranto - Horace Walpole

I don't know whether I read a satire written as a self-challenge to pack as much over-the-top drama in as few pages as possible, or an over-the-top dramatic tragedy on rocket fuel.

 

I feel a bit like when I watched Venezuelan TV novelas, only those tend to stretch, and barely come to the ankles of this... unholy (heheh) mess. So, pretty much the same reaction: either you unapologetically immerse in the guilty pleasure, or you laugh and mock with abandon. I might have canted for the first as a kid (hell, I was tempted for the beginning pages), but I confess that by Frederik's reveal and Theodore's story I just straight started giggling and could not take anything seriously any more.

 

And if it resembles history a bit too much at points, well, it comes to show that reality will always prove to be more ridiculous than any fiction, even this.

 

 

And double bingo for me! (not like I can really keep avoiding them at this point, lol)

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review 2018-10-21 22:17
The Lair of the White Worm
The Lair of the White Worm - Bram Stoker

I usually avoid abridged books like the plague, but I think I nonetheless ended up with an abridged version of Lair of the White Worm. Which is unfortunate. Or maybe not. It’s hard to tell whether this story would be made better or worse by expounding upon it.

 

It starts with long-lost relatives meeting, then moves on to men talking of local legends, men talking during walks, men talking in studies, men talking at breakfast, chapter after chapter of men talking. Also featured are misadventures with snakes and women and mongooses, fatal staring contests in proper English sitting rooms, a horribly racist caricature of a black man, one man’s obsession with his giant bird-shaped kite, and other such WTFery. Soooo much WTFery. Apparently Stoker was terribly ill when he wrote it. And terribly racist. And terribly misogynistic. Maybe just plain terrible.

 

I thought Dracula was so good that I’d try more of Stoker’s work.

 

I should have stopped at Dracula.

 

OMG, I should have stopped.

 

I read this for the Halloween Bingo 2018 Genre: Horror square, and boy was it ever horrifying, though not in the way Stoker intended.

 

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review 2018-10-20 16:56
Classic Horror
Benighted - J.B. Priestley

 

Creepy and atmospheric, but the mood keeps getting broken by interior and exterior delving into personal thoughts and matters.  That just seemed to go on forever.  The horse is dead people.

 

 

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text 2018-10-20 16:04
Halloween Bingo - Southern Gothic
Houses of Stone - Barbara Michaels

I started this re-read a few weeks ago in anticipation of a buddy read that kind of fizzled.  Hey, it happens.

 

My objective was to solve the last lingering puzzle - for me - that a dozen readings had left unsolved. 

 

The same had happened with Michaels' Be Buried in the Rain. I must have read it ten times or more before I finally found the missing clue that answered the last question.

 

Houses of Stone retains its secret.  

 

I've read most of Michaels' gothics, and I have to say they're hit or miss with me.  Houses of Stone, despite many readings, is pretty much a hit.  It has its problems, and there's still the issue of one unsolved mystery, but I enjoy the story and I enjoy the characters.

 

Professor Karen Holloway has come into possession of a mysterious 19th century manuscript of a novel by an unidentified woman author.  The physical manuscript is damaged and missing some pages, but Karen has staked her academic reputation on both deciphering the fading script and identifying the author.

 

Her partner in adventure is Professor Margaret "Peggy" Finneyfrock, one of my favorite sidekick/mastermind characters of all time.  This story would be nothing without her.

 

The rest of the supporting characters are great, too.  Michaels isn't afraid to poke a little fun at the stereotype of romantic hero, but she doesn't rob him of all his dignity either.  She does, however, strip away the polite facades of many other stereotypes and does so with almost fiendish glee.

 

Set in the Virginia Tidewater region, this fits the Southern Gothic Halloween Bingo square.

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review 2018-10-20 03:50
DNF at 35 pages. Not even for Halloween Bingo will I read this racist shit
Isle of the Undead - Virginia Coffman

By page 35, I had too many reasons not to read further.

 

I disliked the main character, Leslie, with a passion, and not just because she was a wealthy blonde American.  I'm not sure why she put up with her husband's numerous infidelities, but she did.  Now he thinks he's dying, and even if he's not actually dying he's certainly very ill, but she goes blithely off to some kind of reception for which she has not only had a new dress made, but new underwear, too. 

 

The evil people are all people of color, including the half-Japanese doctor. 

 

Leslie flirts, or maybe does more than flirt, without qualms.

 

Leslie seems to be unable to persuade her husband to leave the island or even follow traditional medical advice, but in fact she controls the purse-strings.  All she'd have to do is say, "Hey, Sir Tony, I'm not going to continue to pay for this nonsense.  We're leaving."

 

The book was first published in 1969. 

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