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review 2017-10-12 16:03
Carmilla by J. Sheridan LeFanu
In a Glass Darkly - Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

This novella was hard for me to rate - I am not really a fan of short works. Carmilla was good, but it could easily have been expanded into a full length novel. It makes more sense to me to put it in the context of the collection of which it was a part, which is why I've attached it to the full Oxford Classics edition of the collection.

 

The five stories in the collection are purported to be five studies from the casebook of Dr. Hesselius, an "occult detective." Shades of Dr. Van Helsing, perhaps? I can definitely see the influences that Carmilla had on Bram Stoker - there are a lot of analogs, from Laura (Lucy Westenra) to the location of story (the Austrian state of Styria, which has a very similar feel to the Carpathian mountains of Dracula). Both vampires have transformation abilities, with Dracula being capable of transformation into a large black dog, while Carmilla transforms into a large black cat.

 

The homoeroticism between Carmilla and Laura is overt, rather than subtle. It amuses me a little, honestly, to imagine how titillated and thrilling the repressed Victorians must've found the lesbian, erotic, languid relationship between Carmilla and her victims. Don't get me wrong, this is not a graphic by any stretch of the imagination, but the overtones are impossible to miss.

 

The weird name anagramming seemed really contrived to me and I didn't get it all. Carmilla. Millarca. Mircalla.

 

Anyway, I decided that I would go ahead & buy the full collection and read it before the end of Halloween bingo. At least, that's my plan!

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text 2017-10-11 21:31
Classic Horror Group Read

Do you need a wild card to help you fill your card?

 

Join us for:

 

 

Carmilla was originally published in 1872.

 

"Before Dracula, there was Carmilla—the first seductive vampire to haunt readers’ imaginations 

This classic of Gothic horror follows Laura, a woman haunted by a girlhood dream of a beautiful visitor to her bedroom. Now, a decade later, Laura finds Carmilla, who appears to be her own age, on the side of the road after a carriage accident. The two recognize each other from the same childhood dream and become fast friends. Soon after, Laura begins to experience mysterious feelings and is once again haunted by nightmares. She finds Carmilla strangely irresistible and longs to be with her.

But as the two friends grow closer, Laura’s health begins to fail. It becomes apparent that her enchanting companion is harboring a sinister secret. To free herself from Carmilla’s grasp, Laura and her family must fight for their lives."

 

A novella, Carmilla is under 100 pages long, and should be a relatively fast read! Because it is in the public domain, it's easily available through Project Gutenberg, or for free or near free download from Amazon.

 

Link to the thread in our discussion group: here.

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text 2017-10-01 18:46
Buddy Read #2: Classic Horror

OB & I have been discussing putting together that second buddy read for Halloween bingo, to begin 10/10/17! I have two suggestions, and would love to get some additional suggestions going in the bingo group or in the comments!

 

Carmilla - Joseph Sheridan Le FanuCarmilla by Sheridan LeFanu:

 

This is a novella, although page counts seem to vary dramatically. Plot summary;

 

Before Dracula, there was Carmilla—the first seductive vampire to haunt readers’ imaginations 

This classic of Gothic horror follows Laura, a woman haunted by a girlhood dream of a beautiful visitor to her bedroom. Now, a decade later, Laura finds Carmilla, who appears to be her own age, on the side of the road after a carriage accident. The two recognize each other from the same childhood dream and become fast friends. Soon after, Laura begins to experience mysterious feelings and is once again haunted by nightmares. She finds Carmilla strangely irresistible and longs to be with her.

But as the two friends grow closer, Laura’s health begins to fail. It becomes apparent that her enchanting companion is harboring a sinister secret. To free herself from Carmilla’s grasp, Laura and her family must fight for their lives.

 

The Turn of the Screw - Henry JamesThe Turn of the Screw by Henry James:

 

Another novella, this one is around 87 pages.

 

A very young woman's first job: governess for two weirdly beautiful, strangely distant, oddly silent children, Miles and Flora, at a forlorn estate...An estate haunted by a beckoning evil.

Half-seen figures who glare from dark towers and dusty windows- silent, foul phantoms who, day by day, night by night, come closer, ever closer. With growing horror, the helpless governess realizes the fiendish creatures want the children, seeking to corrupt their bodies, possess their minds, own their souls...

But worse-much worse- the governess discovers that Miles and Flora have no terror of the lurking evil.

For they want the walking dead as badly as the dead want them.

 

Both of these are very short reads! Let me know if either of these sound appealing, or feel free to make some additional suggestions in the discussion group. I started a discussion thread here!

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review 2017-09-22 22:30
The Jersey Devil by Hunter Shea
The Jersey Devil - Hunter Shea

The Jersey Devil, as you may have guessed, is a creature feature. It was fun and bloody, which are the top things I'm looking for in a book of this nature.

 

I thought it was a little too long, and a little far fetched, (but then again, most creature features are over the top.)

 

It was an entertaining and light read which was perfect for my mood.

 

You can get your copy here:The Jersey Devil

 

Recommended! 

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review 2017-09-16 17:33
The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
The Thin Man - Dashiell Hammett

So, this one was a bit underwhelming, to be perfectly honest. I wanted to like it, with it's aura of louche 1930's glamour. Unfortunately, I basically disliked all of the characters except for Nick & Nora.

 

I was especially uncomfortable with Dorry, who was depicted as a hormonally-driven drunken teenager, and Nick's reaction to her tight little body made me more than a little uncomfortable (actually, I'm not sure if she was a teenager). Her brother, Gilbert, was identified as being 18, and I can't remember if Dorothy was older or younger than he was by 2 years - so she was either 16, which is super gross, or she was 20, which is marginally less gross.

 

With respect to Nick, well, he simply didn't feel real to me. He seemed more like a far cooler version of Dashiell Hammett - a man's man, able to drink tall bottles with a single bound, deflecting bullets with the manliness of his manly chest. Too much wish fulfillment, too little substance.

 

And Nora. Ah, Nora. Gillian Flynn's Cool Girl, a manic pixie dream dame, Prohibition Edition. She didn't exist except as something for men to ogle over. Even her witty banter was performative. With her red hair and her extreme coolness, I never got a sense of what she would be like in a room by herself. 

 

The mystery was meh.

 

The dog was cute, though.

 

I can totally understand how this book could've made a beloved movie, because it is so character driven, and the flaws that I couldn't ignore would've been much less apparent in film. I might make an effort to track it down and compare it to the source material.

 

So, I'm not sorry I read it, but I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I enjoyed The Bride Wore Black.

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