by Laura Purcell
This started out with two of my personal cardinal sins: a list of characters, something I always skip past because it's meaningless until they have context in the story, and present tense writing. Having said that, the first chapter was very effective that way and would have made a great prologue. Dickens used to write the occasional present tense chapter to put immediacy into a segment of a story, but it doesn't work to do a whole book in present tense.
It starts out with a woman running from something, riding in an old time coach and wearing a dress that gives the impression of a lady, when she is not. An accident leads to her helping an injured man, remonstrating with herself for drawing attention so that people will remember her.
This is where I'm glad I skipped the character list. Learning who this woman is and what she's running from gives me a reason to continue! She has had some form of medical training, which makes her stand out as a woman healer in an older era when such things were uncommon.
We get a flashback of her history that explains where the dress came from and that her mother was a midwife. This is told in past tense and I found myself very interested in her story. A lot is put into her psychological make-up and motivations to develop a clear picture of the character.
There's a strong element of Cornish Pixie lore (though it should be Piskies there) to add a creepy element. The story behind the delicate blue and white china comes out by the end and the significance becomes clear.
I have mixed feelings about the end, but the story as a whole did keep my attention and had just that hint of Horror to make it fit firmly in the Gothic category.
Well, this was disappointing.
It's not just disappointing by comparison with the previous book I read, which was fab, but I am entirely put off by the fact that this was called a short story collection.
This contained five stories, that is true, but one was the preface to a novel, two were only a couple of pages long, one was so obscure that the author himself felt the need to explain it, and most of them I could not see the point in.
I currently have four called and read squares sitting in a row, and the Halloween square is the only one missing. So, in anticipation of that square being called (which would give me a bingo), I'll turn to David Blixt's collection of short stories.
I did consider re-reading Hallowe'en Party by Dame Agatha, but I have had Sincerity on my kindle for a few years now and really want to get rid of at least one book on my virtual TBR.
One person from 4 different families have a possessed music box thrust upon them by a dead witch that has been stalking their families for 200 years. They have 7 days from receipt to lock them down. They must meet and battle the witch for the keys on her home turf. If they don't find them in time, if at all, the demon possesses them. A long lingering death. Age is not a consideration.
Definitely will be reading book 2.