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Search tags: house-as-character
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review 2019-11-23 19:23
Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury
Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury

The prologue begins with an opening line reminiscent of A Christmas Carol: "First of all, it was October, a rare time for boys."

Forty or so years ago I read this and identified with the boys, of course I did. This time I couldn't. So it was just a bunch of wordplay and monologuing and there was no horror to it anywhere, just an ad for an imaginary place I wouldn't be welcome. He did say some nice things about libraries, though, so I'm giving it a couple of stars.

Library copy

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review 2019-11-05 01:56
The King of the Castle - Victoria Holt
The King of the Castle - Victoria Holt

This is what I was expecting The Black Pearl to be more like: a young orphaned penniless English woman accepts a job doing [art restoration] at a castle with a dark and dangerous lord of the manor and a changeable and undisciplined child. There are horseback rides and formal dinners and quaint local customs and a difficult man intrigued by a staunch and somewhat contrary, not especially pretty woman, who is never flirtatious or coy and isn't at all shy about telling him when he's doing things wrong. There is danger, and careful nursing at home, a valuable inheritance, and at least a couple of other single men who might be attracted as well, but are much more charming.

 

I loved it for so perfectly being what I expected. But boy, did I find the presumption of inherent class to be repugnant. There are actual peasants. It isn't clear exactly when this is set sometime after trains but before rural electrification or antibiotics. Surprisingly few deaths in childbirth, but lots of orphans.

 

Fun stuff. Especially the horrible sexism that's all about carving out a place for one exceptional woman. Gah. I'm ready to fight on the barricades and eat the rich. Interestingly there's a strong parallel between the story of the brave noble ancestor hiding out from the mob with a kind servant and the stories Southerners like to tell about the aristocratic ancestor's brave struggles during and after the civil war.

 

Used for Relics and Curiosities in honor of the secret messages that reveal clues to the long-lost emeralds. I guess valuable jewels aren't as crass as regular money.

 

Library copy

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review 2019-10-19 18:01
Haunted House Mini-Edition - Jan Pieńkowski
Haunted House Mini-Edition - Jan Pieńkowski

Just as I have Christmas books that I break out and read every year in November and December, I have this one book that I read every year as part of my All Hallow's Read/Halloween Bingo/spoopy-months celebration (spooky-adjacent sorts of things that aren't scary but are amusing).

 

This is something I picked up lo! these many years ago, because of course part of the Halloween observance is giving seasonally-appropriate books. They lost interest in it ages ago, but the mix of expected (skeleton in the closet) and unexpected (octopus washing dishes) still it delights me every year. And amazingly, hardly any of the moving bits came off or tore. Some of my September and October reads are re-reads, but the only other piece I return to very often is Click-Clack the Rattlebag, the audio version read by Neil Himself.

 

Personal copy

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review 2019-10-10 02:10
Wylding Hall - Elizabeth Hand
Wylding Hall - Elizabeth Hand

This is a very atmospheric story: although not the usual haunting. It's presented as the oral history of an up-and-coming British folk band in the 60s and the story of what happened the summer their producer sent them to a decaying manor house in the middle of nowhere to rehearse and write material for their second album.

 

Hand paces the story well, giving us little bits of creepiness along the way, and grounding it in the mundane: they're just broke teenagers hoping this is going to be their big chance. The house is a weird one, added onto every century or so. The villagers are stand-offish. The summer is gorgeous, the songwriting is going well, and the rehearsals are great. Just little bits of wrongness here and there.

 

It absolutely feels like the reminiscences of aging hippies: the sex, the drugs, the ratty old clothes. The band members have different voices and personalities, and the whole thing comes across as exactly the kind of urban legend you'd hear about a band after several decades, or a Whatever Happened to special on MTV or something.

 

Very well done, and a clever twist on a number of tropes. I rather like the setting (in time and space) for being not at all gothic, but rather idyllic. This is the pattern of most of E. F. Benson's ghost stories and adapted well. It'd make a gorgeous film.

 

Library copy

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review 2018-09-24 00:33
The Girl Before: A Novel - J.P. Delaney for some square TBA
The Girl Before: A Novel - J.P. Delaney

I spent half a hour down a rabbit hole just because I couldn't remember if this was a library copy and Amazon deleted my review, which was witty and succinct and insightful but not spoilery, and not at all like the review of  a very tired person, which I am.

 

Good book, lots of twists in the spaghetti and many of them unexpected.

 

Good for genre: suspense, romantic suspense, darkest London, amateur sleuth.

 

Library copy

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