Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Another "Belmont Double Gothic" arrived today

Castle of Closing Doors by Daoma Winston and Night of Evil by Genevieve St. John.

Excellent condition. Never read apparently. Unsure how the back cover obtained a minor surface crease, but no problem; the crease looks like a frayed lightning bolt, lol.

Beautiful copy.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A cup of boullion

Besides a lot of coffee in many of these novels (strange to read of younger folks drinking it, when we Gen-Xers are soda freaks), I'm also noticing people drinking "a cup of boullion." That's odd (in a good way) to me, because back home in Iowa boullion is what you put into a slow cooker with chicken or beef. :P

We Midwesterners would say "a cup of broth," not boullion. ;)

I also enjoy the element of food in most of these stories. Puts a touch of home and heart into otherwise morbid surroundings. Goes nicely with the romance. But then...I've always thought of food as a romantic indulgence.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Season of Evil by Jane Gordon [1966?]

Found the cover art via Ebay (note the camera icon).

Ms. Gordon's real name is Elsie Lee. She's an excellent writer, but I'm unsure how this book [aside from the title and gorgeous cover art] is considered a Gothic.

Unless I simply didn't give it enough time. But nearly 1/4 of the way through and it's still about the main character's posh and normal life in the big city...I gave up.The writing is witty and clever and funny. But after so many pages of "okay, where is the Gothic?" I set it aside.

The story opens with the main character, who is a real firecracker, not understanding why she's suddenly been dumped by her husband. She does move into a different house. At that point I logically figure the reader will be introduced to "the hateful house" with bats fluttering out of the attic windows and a chain-clanking ghost and a spiteful neighbor...but nope. The author goes on for quite a while about her previously spectacular life with the husband and in-laws.

It is entertaining. But not in the fashion I wanted to be entertained.Perhaps at some point I'll finish it. But I want my Gothic now -- not later.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Satan's Rock by Marilyn Ross [1966]

A scanned photo (by someone else; found this via Google Images) of the cover.

Based on certain comments I've encountered, quite a few folks shy away from "Marilyn" Ross novels for one reason or another. Well DON'T shy away from this one!

It's my 1st Ross novel and it was a BLAST. It was GoThic to a T.

Supernatural elements. Mysterious and unexpected deaths. Menacing and malicious human machinations. Twists and turns. Fog, rain, gloom.

It's 1900 on Elm Island, a tiny island in the Atlantic Ocean a few miles from the Nova Scotia coast. Lucy Ashton is the 22-year-old hieress to "Satan's Rock": A vast and haunted castle-like mansion (built up by her paternal grandfather) on the site named for the intrepid and cruel pirate who founded the original fortress there: Black Satan.

He left supposed treasure chests filled with gold and jewels buried somewhere on Elm Island, and likely within the maze of confusing and treacherous tunnels beneath the original fortress called "Satan's Rock." Before abandoning the island and his treasure, Black Satan allegedly pronounced a curse on all who would try to find his treasure.

Despite the curse, dozens of fortune hunters have come to the island on aggressive digging expeditions. All have met with disaster and death.

Lucy's family -- the Ashtons -- have refused to seek the treasure. They believe because of this they've been kept safe.

Now Lucy's father is deceased. Her mother, Cynthia, has remarried a hateful and hard-drinking man named Theodore Hastings. When the latest expedition to find Black Satan's gold meets in the certain untimely deaths, Edward Roper returns from Halifax, Nova Scotia. He and Lucy are in love. And soon their love becomes strained as Edward makes a life-altering decision which puts him at odds with Lucy's nasty stepfather, Theodore Hastings.

Trouble and heartache abound.

And in the midst of all this comes Simon Crowe. Aside from Lucy, he is *the* most interesting character in the novel imo. I was particularly curious to see where he fit into the story...and I wasn't disappointed.

Loved this novel. It was fast-paced and very suspenseful and chock full of genuine Gothic aura.

The cast of characters as I visualized them:

Lucy Ashton: Wynona Ryder [age 22]
Cynthia Ashton-Hastings: Barbara Hershey [age 51]
Theodore Hastings: Jack Cassidy [age 49]
Edward Roper: Ewan MacGregor [age 23]
William Roper: Walter Barnes [age 55]
Jacob Greer: John Malkovich [age 42]
Simon Crowe: He's beyond portrayal by a human actor, lol.

Monday, July 7, 2008

A "Belmont Double Gothic"

I had the good fortune, Saturday the 5th of July, to find a Belmont Double Gothic. :) Didn't know such a thing existed! The stories run back-to-back, and each cover art takes half the space of the cover.

The 1st story is Hounds of Hell by Virginia Coffman [ironically it was one of her other titles I was searching for, which is how I came across this Double Gothic]; the 2nd story is Carnaby Curse by Daoma Winston.

The cover [for some reason I can't get Images Link to work]:

I'm hoping to discover other Double Gothics. Cool!

Enchanted Circle, by Alicia Grace [1968]

Fabulous story.

It should be converted into a full-color/length graphic novel. This novel was meant to be seen -- not just merely read.

It's a straightforward and entertaining story, filled with unexpected twists. And for once I'm unsure how to summarize it without giving any spoilers! But here goes: Lilia Henderson is an American in Scotland, having just received her doctorate in English Literature. She's en route to London [though still in the Scottish Highlands] when a rainstorm forces her off the road. She cannot read the sign post through the rain-streaked window, but decides -- or rather is compelled to -- follow the secondary road despite her better judgment. She finally decides to stop, shuts off the car, gets out and takes a smoke while enjoying the stunning stormy panorama around her. When she decides to leave and get back to the main road, Lilia discovers her car won't start. She then spies two stone markers in the near distance...and decides, despite a haunting inner warning, to check the markers out.

And then everything changes for Lilia.

A short while later she kills a man [Nebiros] who has unjustly killed someone she loves [Anson, with whom I also fell in love; what a prince of a man!]. Nebiros' master, Gyres, swears revenge. He is a 500-year-old sorcerer whose Master is the Prince of Darkness himself. But Gyres has a very interesting secret which, ironically, he himself is unaware of...and part of that secret ultimately [well -- read the book! ;) ].

My only complaint with the story occurred in Chapter Fifteen, when suddenly Lilia's father, Will, is being called "Ned" -- all throughout the chapter! Ned is Lilia's uncle and was only previously mentioned in passing. I can't believe the author herself would make such a goof. In the same chapter Clarence, Lilia's betrothed, is also called "Ned"! :-\ Some of those typesetters and proofreaders sure fall asleep on the job...

Anyway, an excellent story. In this post-The Exorcist/Hellraiser world the novel's scenes and descriptions of black magic and nefarious doings sometimes seems a bit corny...however, the author pulled some very unique tricks out of her hat in the telling.

The edition I found was Manor Books, 1976. The cover art is ... lacking. I have mail ordered the original 1968 Lancer Books Inc. edition and hope its cover art is as worthy as the story!

The cast of characters as I visualized them:

Lilia Henderson: Susan Dey [age 22]
Will Henderson: Sam Neill [age 45]
Anson Henderson: Orlando Bloom [age 21]
Gyres: Ralph Fiennes [age 33]
Clarence: Leonardo DiCaprio [age 22]
Endor: Kim Bassinger [age 35]
Ann: Kirsten Dunst [age 16]

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Nurse at the Castle, by Joanne Holden [1965]

Mixed thoughts on the story itself. It's well crafted. Characters are strong. Nurse Nancy Bronson is enjoyable.

I don't understand how it rates as a "Gothic," however. Barclay Manor is well-polished, modern, opulent. The story focuses more on interpersonal/social difficulties -- particularly as regards romantic rivals -- than anything else. :-\ The romances blow up far too fast; there are two serious marriage proposals which occur within the space of a few weeks[?!]. The basic mood of the novel is catiness (a serious negative with me). The women in the story just don't like each other, with the exception of Lavinia Barclay (the elderly millionaire widow) and Nurse Nancy.

The only "nod" to Gothic imo would be the unbelievable "sudden day out" Nurse Nancy has with Greg to the home of Washington Irving. Their being fans of Sleepy Hollow, site-seeing Irving's home and "the old Dutch Church" and nearby cemetery are the only spooky happenings. And of course there's Mrs. Barclay seemingly menaced by people who might profit from her placement in an institution. We are wondering throughout the novel if she's truly okay (aside from being manipulated and medicated) or if she is truly ill and an unpredictable danger. That element is left unknown until the end.

The mention of "loco weed" was funny. :D

The author has a rich storytelling style. I just wish her focus would have been different. I couldn't hardly visualize the characters, except that Mrs. Barclay would be portrayed by Harriet MacGibbon (age 63), John Ferguson by Jack Nicholson (age 40), and Nurse Nancy by Barbara Feldon (age 27).