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Search tags: Gothic-Romance
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review 2018-03-31 17:52
This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart
This Rough Magic - Mary Stewart

Does anyone else write like Mary Stewart? Because if there is another Mary Stewart out there, I want to find her. Her books are the perfect combination of romance and suspense, set in the most beautiful places. I really enjoy the fact that they are contemporaries for the time that they were written.

 

I would say that the closest that I have found to Stewart is Phyllis Whitney, who writes very similar romantic suspense/gothic romance, but she just doesn't have the writing chops of Mary Stewart. I'm wondering if anyone is aware of any modern authors who are writing this same type of book. I don't really enjoy the Pamela Clare style of romantic suspense, and J.D. Robb doesn't do much for me.

 

This was my first time reading This Rough Magic - it was one of my massive Mary Stewart kindle book purchase last fall. It is definitely up there with The Moonspinners for me in enjoyability, and I liked it better than both The Ivy Tree and Wildfire at Midnight.

 

This Rough Magic follows the Mary Stewart playbook - attractive young woman on her own goes to exotic place, becomes embroiled in something dangerous - espionage, smuggling, murder - falls in love with an equally attractive young man after they cross paths. Stewart has a gift for creating suspense, and one of the things that I liked about This Rough Magic is that the main character, Lucy Waring, extricates herself from danger with resourcefulness and persistence. She doesn't wait to be rescued - she rescues herself. I liked this a lot, and it placed Lucy on a footing of equality with the male love interest.

 

The Corfu setting is beautiful. Mary Stewart used Shakespeare's The Tempest as a jumping off point for the book, with quotes from the play as chapter headings, and discussions about The Tempest between the heroine, Lucy, a not-terribly-successful actress from London and Julian Gale, a very successful Shakespearean actor who has come to Corfu to recuperate from a nervous breakdown. Stewart's descriptive talents are formidable and she does a wonderful job of painting a mental picture of beautiful places. It had the same effect on me as The Moonspinners in making me want to jump on an airplane and fly off to a sunny climate, especially given that I am suffering mightily from spring fever in the midst of a grey Oregon winter.

 

 

 

As a downside, as is the case with a lot of mid-twentieth century fiction, there is a lot of colonialism and superiority in Lucy's interactions with the native Corfuites - the "nobility of the peasantry" condescension. This is likely inevitable given the time in which it was written, but, still, it is present.

 

Overall, This Rough Magic was a delightful read.

 

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review 2018-03-28 03:23
Not really all that gothic, not really all that romantic
The India Fan (Casablanca Classics) - Victoria Holt

So, I didn't actually hate it.

 

Let me begin with a gif, though. 

 

 

That's Drusilla, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And, sadly, that is what I pictured every single time I read the name of the main character. It was . . . distracting.

 

Now that I've gotten that out of my system, I shall talk about the book.

 

When I read a gothic romance, I expect two things. Gothic. Romance. This was a very low key romance - so low key, in fact, that I do not believe that the two romantic leads actually ever touched each other until the hero proclaimed his undying love for the heroine. There was basically no chemistry between them at all.

 

What does "gothic" really mean? To me, it absolutely requires a certain aesthetic that invokes gloom, dread and a sense of supernatural possibility and danger. I suppose that the titular India fan was supposed to offer that "gothic" feeling, but it really didn't work because sensible Drusilla just didn't buy it and so the reader didn't buy it, either. The other dangerous elements - specifically, Drusilla becoming embroiled in the Sepoy Mutiny of 1858, wasn't even remotely gothic.

 

As a piece of historical fiction, it rather reminded me of The Shadow of the Moon, by M. M. Kaye, which I quite enjoyed. Unfortunately, Holt simply does not write at the level of M. M. Kaye. I didn't find it to be awful, but there was nothing special about it.

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text 2018-03-27 15:54
Reading progress update: I've read 60%.
The India Fan (Casablanca Classics) - Victoria Holt

The backstory of this book felt like it took fully half of the book to develop. I've just now gotten to the point where the main character, Drusilla, has inherited the titular India Fan. There is very little gothic going on at this point. I don't dislike it, necessarily, but when I read a Holt gothic, I'm looking for some sense of suspense or brooding mystery, which is not the atmosphere so far.

 

Having read a number of Holt books over the last couple of years, I feel like she is just retelling Jane Eyre over and over with varying levels of success, by plucking elements out of Bronte's classic and plugging them into her current writing book. This isn't a criticism so much as it an observation, since this particular device worked really well for her, and when it is done with panache and delicacy it can be very effective. Unfortunately, in this one, her main Eyreian (yes, I just made up that word) device - the mysterious woman in the attic - is pretty clunky and doesn't generate the suspense that it should have in order to work.

 

Anyway, now that we've - hopefully - gotten to the point, I shall read on.

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text 2018-03-26 22:18
Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 416 pages.
The India Fan (Casablanca Classics) - Victoria Holt

You might remember that Obsidian read this one a few months ago and found it to be a total shit show. I'm ready to find out if I agree!

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-03-24 18:48
A Dance In Blood Velvet by Freda Warrington (2016 Review)
A Dance In Blood Velvet - Freda Warrington

A Dance In Blood Velvet by Freda Warrington
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Black shadows appear within the Crystal Ring, bringing confusion and fear to those who inhabit it. Charlotte Neville and her lover Karl von Wultendorf find themselves, despite being separated by emotional conflict, deeply embedded in the scheme of three mysterious figures that wish to preform a questionable ceremony.

(WARNING: This review contains MAJOR spoilers.)

The first instalment (A Taste of Blood Wine) of this darkly alluring series captured my heart, in that despite the overly dramatic tone relating to the Neville household, I found the writing itself a literary treasure; atmospherically gothic, intense and beautiful; it appealed to my utmost fondness for vampire romance. What I expected from this volume, was more of the same brilliance, yet instead of entertaining family turmoil, relationship jealously saturated every aspect of each character and unfortunately dulled my enjoyment because of such. I'm all for conflicting emotion, of mistakes being made due to overpowering feelings, yet nearly every event that transpired in this book, was more or less due to jealousy in some form - Ben and Lancelyn, Charlotte and Katerina, Karl and Violette. Perhaps I should've appreciated the fact they were realistic, and like normal people plagued by insecurities, but there's a point I began to roll my eyes at the abundance of selfish behaviour.

A happily-ever-after was not in store for Charlotte and Karl, on the contrary, in fact. They spent most of their time apart, as obstacles seemed to rise in every direction and threaten their attempt at eternal love. I didn't mind this, I actually considered it refreshing that they had to continually fight to make it work. I however believed them both mostly to blame for their unhappiness, and Charlotte became especially intolerable. From being jealous of Katerina whilst she, herself, had the audacity to lust after and stalk Violette, well, what happened to the character I actually liked and felt attached to? And when she planned to turn Violette without even asking for her permission, I was ready to throw the book across the room. The same occurred with the rest of the characters, as well; I didn't particularly feel for any of them.

This isn't to say I believed the entire book a disappointment. Some endearing elements were still present, such as the style of writing and the overall elegance of the story, but it definitely lacked some of its original charm. The plot consisted of two, seemingly separate subplots coming together, pretty much revolving around the (re)birth of Lilith. Religion was further contemplated, yet it remained a mystery if God actually existed. The exact origin of the Crystal Ring was also pondered upon yet again, raising the question of if it relates to scientific or spiritual means. I do wonder if answers will ever come to light, or if it'll remain unexplained. At least the discovery of humans accessing the Crystal Ring was revealed, and the presence of a physic human also added to the conundrum that is Warrington's world.

In conclusion: The self-centred actions of the characters brought bouts of annoyance. I'll certainly continue with this series, but I hope I enjoy further instalments more than this one.

Notable Scene:

"How can I be content to bury myself in dead mythology, after living mythology has revealed itself to me? How can I feel anything for Lamia, succubus, incubus, Lilith and her demon children or all the angels of heaven, when I have met a real being who is richer and stranger than anything on the dry page of a book?"

"Do you want to write me into a book, a thesis?"

"It's tempting, but no, no more than I'd put a bird of prey in a glass cage."


© Red Lace 2016

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/03/24/a-dance-in-blood-velvet-by-freda-warrington-2016-review
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