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review 2017-11-11 22:17
Excellent historical perspective on the genre
The Tale Of Terror: A Study Of The Gothic Fiction - Edith Birkhead

Disclosure:  I acquired a free Kindle edition of this public domain work.


Although a bit dry at times, Edith Birkhead's 1921 study of gothic fiction is still a valuable resource for anyone wishing to understand the evolution of the genre.  Her insights remain relevant even a century (almost) later.


She starts with Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto and moves forward into the novels of Mrs. Radcliffe, Matthew "Monk" Lewis, and others at the end of the eighteenth century.  The connections she makes between the authors and the books they read as well as the books they wrote was interesting.  Too often, literary analysts seem to assume the books write themselves and evolve one after the other without human intervention.


Many of the books and authors cited have of course been classics for a very long time, but others are less well known and less available even in this age of digitization.  It's going to be fun tracking down some of these unfamiliar titles.


One aspect I found particularly interesting, and again given that this was written nearly a hundred years ago, was that Ms. Birkhead recognized the integration of aspects of the gothic story into other genres of fiction, whether bringing elements of the supernatural into the mundane setting such as The Picture of Dorian Grey, or allowing natural fear and terror to heighten the reader's excitement and interest, as in The Prisoner of Zenda.


The edition I obtained is complete with footnotes and index, which will be very useful.



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text 2017-08-29 01:18
Tarnished by Karina Cooper 99 cents!
Tarnished - Karina Cooper

My name is Cherry St. Croix. Society would claim that I am a well-heeled miss with an unfortunate familial reputation. They've no idea of the truth of it. In my secret world, I hunt down vagrants, thieves . . . and now, a murderer. For a monster stalks London's streets, leaving a trail of mystery and murder below the fog.


Eager for coin to fuel my infatuations, I must decide where my attentions will turn: to my daylight world, where my scientific mind sets me apart from respectable Society, or to the compelling domain of London below. Each has a man who has claimed my time as his—for good or for ill. Though as the corpses pile, and the treacherous waters of Society gossip churn, I am learning that each also has its dangers. One choice will see me cast from polite company . . . the other might just see me dead.

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review 2016-11-24 16:01
The Tarnished Lady (Viking I, #3) by Sandra Hill 4.5 Stars!
The Tarnished Lady - Sandra Hill

This week's favorite brings you a sexy Viking and an practical  heroine in exile. I love the historical detail of this book but I also adore how much the heroine is herself. Oh, and the romance is really hot between fully grown people. Yes! 






Banished from polite society for bearing a child out of wedlock, Lady Eadyth of Hawks' Lair spends her days hidden under a voluminous veil, tending her bees. But when her son's detested father threatens to reveal the boy's true paternity and seize her beloved lands, Lady Eadyth seeks a husband willing to claim the child as his own.


Eirik of Ravenshire is England's most virile bachelor, notorious for loving—and leaving— the most beautiful damsels in the land. Now a mysterious lady is offering him a vow of chaste matrimony in exchange for revenge against his most hated enemy, and Eirik simply cannot refuse. But the lusty knight's plans go awry when he finds himself unable to resist Eadyth's myriad charms . . . and he succumbs to the sweet sting of the tarnished lady's love.





Sandra Hill is known for her rollicking silly time travel romances and I love those. This love story is a straight up historical set in the era of the Vikings and it so good!


It isn't campy. I like campy but what Hill does here is a wonderful time period exploration of what it would take to be an independent woman and the man who would love her.


It is a great romance and the book is filled with bee keeping and mead making and gives you a wonderful sense of the time period as well as wonderful characters you really hope get their HEA. And they do, yea!

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review 2016-10-23 16:23
I'm glad that's over
Carmilla - Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

I'm not even sure why I gave this two stars.


Vampires just don't interest me.  I think I was spoiled by Yarbro's St. Germain series; nothing else comes close.


I knew part of the basic story of Carmilla so there was nothing particularly surprising in the reading of it.  Everything was predictable, and there was no real development of the characters.  This happened, this happened, this happened, then this happened, and finally the end.  Boring.


If there was anything about the background of the story that provided some interest, it was the strong undertone of lesbian sexuality.  This struck me almost immediately upon reading the dream sequence of the six-year-old narrator in which she is attacked/bitten in the breast rather than the neck.  The sexuality of the later, post-Dracula vampire tales has been explored almost to the point of being common knowledge, but because Carmilla predates the Stoker novel by more than 20 years, I had not expected this element in the earlier book.


And of course I tucked that little bit of knowledge away just in case I ever get around to working on my Victorian novel again.


So I read it and it's out of the way, and now I can move on to something more enjoyable.

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review 2016-09-06 17:32
Such a cheerful madness
The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman

After reading so many reviews and comments here, I ordered a free Kindle edition of The Yellow Wallpaper and read it comfortably in less than half an hour.


As depressing as it was, it didn't have the ending I anticipated once I knew she had a rope and a chair.


I could easily see this expanded into a much more gruesome novel.  At roughly 20 pages -- a very quick and easy read -- it may not have had quite the intense impact of a longer, slower, more agonizing slide into madness.


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