Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The irony of it is...

I've just now received from a Canadian bookseller what is very likely my final mail-order Gothic: Wyndspelle, by Aola Vandergriff:

That's an Ebay scan.

This is likely my last mail-order Gothic on the basis of my dislike of ordering books "on the blind." Of course with Absinthe and Gloomy Sunday we were able to see what Gothics she'd obtained and reviewed; at least 12 of them caught my interest and I placed orders.

The irony here is, if I recall correctly, Absinthe said "Wyndspelle" was her first Gothic and the one which started her off to acquiring and reading more. And it turns out this same novel is my last to receive via mail-order. Sure, just a coincidence but it's ... sort of ironic.

Prior to receiving "Wyndspelle" in the mail, I received the 2nd-to-final mail order Gothic: "Vengeance of the Cat Goddess" by Jennifer Stephens [Trixie's already given it an enthusiastic 4 Paws, on the basis of the cover art alone]:

That was scanned by Absinthe.


Yesterday my husband and I paid a visit to a nearby large border (US/Mexico) city. Sad to say the Gothic offerings there are nil. The city was impoverished for decades, and the dominant culture frowned upon "ladies of leisure" -- particularly taking time out to read. Many of them likely could not read nor speak English for that matter. It's another reminder of cultural differences.

It seems our little city 55 miles to the north is an oasis as Gothic novels go, for this region. We've had hundreds of northern retirees moving in, and I'm again certain it's these ladies cleaning out their packing boxes and filling the shelves [keep them coming!!].

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Carnaby Curse by Daoma Winston [1967]

Found this Belmont Double Gothic last May, locally. Found the cover scan via:


That's a favorite cover art of mine. It captures the story perfectly.

I give the story 5 stars out of 5. :-) Carnaby Curse is beautifully written. It's definitely crafted in a more feminine style, with certain traditionally feminine elements to it; however, it's NOT weak -- neither is Megan Benson. Forgive me if it seems sexist, but I'm rather certain ladies 40+ (I'm 43) might instantly take to the story's overall aura.

Megan Benson is definitely a likeable character, imo. She's 24 and just returned to Carnaby House in "the cold hills of Connecticut" with her younger sister, Kristine, and cousins Terrence and Celia. Megan grew up in Carnaby House with Kristine and their cousins; it was not a happy childhood. The return to Carnaby House is not a happy one either; Megan should now be married to Rory and honeymooning on a sunny beach in Bermuda...but alas, Fate decreed it otherwise.

Megan begins to brood over what she's certain is a curse on her. As a younger woman she'd believed Carnaby House was cursed; but no, Megan's seeming ill-fated star had followed her far beyond the bounds and reaches of Carnaby House; the curse resided within her...didn't it?

The family and friend dynamic of this wonderful Gothic novella is different than most. That boosted its appeal for me.

As Megan continues grappling with depression and despondency against the haunting backdrop of the misty/foggy Connecticut hills, someone attempts to kill her...or it seems that way. Megan learns an unhappy and unsavory truth regarding her mother's youthful death. Is Megan tainted by her mother's tragic fate?

Or IS someone trying to kill her? If so, why?

Liam arrives on the scene. He's instantly attracted to Megan, who instantly rejects any overtures. Megan soon acquires another would-be suitor, and twice rejects that man's marriage proposals. Into this heady mix comes Celia's mature and confident flirting with Liam, and young Kristine's jealous awkwardness.

It's a well-balanced, nicely paced Gothic with just the right amount of haunting qualities. The ending unfolds smoothly and is satisfyingly surprising.

The cast of characters as I *loosely* visualized them:

Megan Benson: Bridget Fonda [age 24]
Kristine Benson: Sharon Tate [age 17]
Terrence Parr: Tall, handsome, blonde as described [age 26].
Celia Parr: Sharon Stone [age 25]
Liam: Tall, dark, handsome as described [age 30]
Budgie: Reta Shaw [age 62]
Clyde: As described [age 65]

Trixie gives it 1 Paw: No mention of nor reference to a cat. ;-p

Friday, December 26, 2008

Gloomy Sunday update

It's been nearly 3 weeks since I sent a snail-mail greeting to Absinthe's street address (again, I won't give it out to anyone so please don't write and ask). There's been no reply.

I doubt this post is premature. It seems a certainty that Absinthe's "Gloomy Sunday" blog is permanently gone. Knowing what I do of internet forums, once a forum is deleted it -IS- deleted. I have no idea what might have happened and it's pointless to speculate. This has caused me a lot of concern and trepidation, despite the fact that we were still relative strangers and I knew only perhaps 5 personal items about Absinthe. I can't help wondering if something very bad has happened to Absinthe or in her life. :-(

2008 has been a weird and trying year as friends and acquaintances go; it's contained shockingly sudden upheavals and losses (though since November there has been a tremendous and equally unexpected GAIN of a group of real-life friends; a happy reunion), and I'm sad (and extremely chagrined) to say Absinthe and Gloomy Sunday's disappearance has been most shocking of all, despite the online nature of it all.

I truly and 100% genuinely do miss Absinthe and "Gloomy Sunday" -- it was wonderful reading Absinthe's reviews, checking out the cover art and getting a notion of what GR novels are in circulation in her area.

Guess you're stuck with me now. Don't know what else to say except my best thoughts and wishes to Absinthe...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Treats, unexpected surprises & a question...

Stopped by the local used bookstore after doing a bit of banking. I picked up four Gothics, one of which is my next-to-read: It's set in Ireland and includes a Glossary in the back, and a RECIPE for Irish Green or Erin Sauce. Cool! B-) And it has awesome cover art; can't wait to review and share the cover art -- including a scan of the novel's back -- with you!

I have a question: Does anyone recall Absinthe of Gloomy Sunday mentioning "pocket edition" Gothic mini-novels? I've tried locating her post via Google Cached and cannot find it. Would like to pick up some of those (none available locally apparently; I've not yet encountered one) and need a bit of info, particularly the *publisher.* Thanks in advance for any input/direction.

Currently I'm reading a novel out of a Belmont Double Gothic by Daoma Winston. So far so very good, and will review it ASAP. Happy Holidays to all! :-)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Amber Twilight by Miriam Lynch [1967]

One of the (likely) rare times I'll be reviewing 2 stories in 1 day. Finished "Amber Twilight" by Miriam Lynch just an hour ago; read it within a day. This cover art was found via http://gothicnovellover.com, which Barrymore notified me of Saturday. I've had a previous cover scan [obtained via Fantasticfiction.co.uk], but this one is much sharper.

And as the back cover got cut off via E-Blogger Image, here's the link:


This story gets 5 stars out of 5 - and then some. It is FANTASTIC. :-) It's a 92-page stick of dynamite which grabs you from the first page and keeps you turning. All elements of excellent storytelling are here, imo, especially balance, pacing and surprises.

Susan Leyton is a 23-year-old secretary who is also a shutterbug. She's in-between romances, again enjoying the single life, and decides one lazy and very snowy Saturday morning to drive beyond the town limits to photograph Blackhall.

Blackhall was owned by wealthy elitist Nathan Black in the late 1800's. He and his wife esconced themselves there, never bothering with "the peasantry" nearby. A solitary daughter was born to the Blacks, who went on to fame and fortune in Hollywood.

Susan is forced to recall this bit of history later -- after she's been conked in the head while focusing the camera preparing to take a couple of shots [she's hoping to enter and win an amateur photography contest with Blackhall as subject] and waking up in a strange room. LOCKED into the room, actually.

Her two known captors are a hostile older woman and a malicious dwarf. A hateful ragged voice booms menacingly through the corridors, thanks to a speaker/amplifier system. No electricity: Just row upon row and many clusters of candles, all of which give the ghastly mansion its continual eerie amber-twilight ambience.

Susan, of course, seeks escape. She has a friend in the enemy camp, who hides her until she can be safely released. But Susan wonders why her new-found friend can't simply stand up for her and order her release. She's left to her doubts and fears overnight, in the only room with electricity: The tower cupola. There she discovers a large splotch of what seems dried blood, dozens of framed photos of Cecily Sinclair [aka Margaret Black] in her Hollywood glory days, pieces of old furniture. Then a blizzard whips up, further delaying Susan's escape.

All the hostilities and furies of Blackhall ultimately culminate in the cupola.

Well crafted and super-enjoyable! I especially enjoyed all the wintry elements in the story, including aspects of blizzards I'd somewhat forgotten in the many years I've been away from Iowa.

The cast of characters as I visualized them:

Susan Leyton: Lauren Holly [age 23]
Richard Black: Don Briscoe [age 28]
Roxie: Ellen Corby [age 66]
Sidney: N/A
Cecily: N/A
Mickey: As described.

Trixie gives the story 1 Paw: No mention of cats or anything cat-like. Who's the species-ist, hmmmm?? ;-)

Cover Art: Face in the Pond [Clarissa Ross]

Thanks to Barrymore, who shared http://gothicnovellover.com/gallery/main.php, I was able to obtain a cover scan of this lovely novel which I reviewed in early November. Clarissa Ross was a pseudonym for W.E.D. Ross. I love this cover art and am glad it includes the back of the novel as well.

Here's the LARGE version:


Sorry, Link feature never works for me.

Mistress of Ravenstone by Monica Heath [1973]

Usually I'm offline Mondays, but today's an exception; I finished this novel last evening [scan obtained from Barrymore -- *thanks*!] and I also accidentally left one of my treasured Belmont Double Gothics at a restaurant this a.m.! :-( That Belmont DG is "Amber Twilight" by Miriam Lynch & "Portrait of Terror" by Paula Minton [scan of this cover posted in November, IIRC]. Fortunately the restaurant owner and her waitress are honest; safekept the book for me and instantly returned it. Belmont DG's are rare and this one's in mint condition; NEVER again is it leaving the house. Can't believe I did that, but all's well that ends well. :-\

As for "Mistress of Ravenstone": I'm sorry to say it rates only 3 stars on a scale of 1 - 5. And I dislike being critical of others' published work. The story opens with Lorraine, who's recently moved to San Francisco after having had her heart broken by a former fiancee in her small California hometown. On a lonely day she decides to visit the Palace of Fine Arts and there meets Nicholas Laughlin, who is giving a tour. They strike up a whirlwind romance [despite his preoccupation with an alleged family curse], soon marry. Nick's nasty nit of a sister, Maggie, throws a party "in honor" of Nick and Lorraine, but it's evident she hates Lorraine. Enter Felicia, Nick's old flame -- an older woman who is deeply mystical and involved in the occult; and Radi, Felicia's personal "swami". Lorraine overhears Maggie telling Sandy [a friend] of all the terrible and premature deaths Nick's previous girlfriends have suffered; is it the lingering Laughlin curse? The Laughlins are Americans for generations, but the ancestral castle remains; it's reclaimed by Nick's parents and the ghost of a beheaded Laughlin wife centuries ago is said to have cursed the castle and family, and continues to haunt the castle.

Lorraine and Nick go on a brief hectic honeymoon. An anonymous letter arrives for Nick, who becomes aggitated by it. Lorraine discovers the letter; it's regarding the alleged family curse, warning the Laughlins away from Ireland. Nick ignores it; they arrive at the castle to inhabit and renovate it.

Into this mix comes Felicia, Maggie, Radi...and Breasel, a local colorful Irish character, young and handsome, who's said to have been "fairy struck" as an infant: An alleged changeling, a sickly one of the Faery Folk who now lives as a human.

I found a certain decision by Nick's parents unbelievable; if good and worthy in-laws, they wouldn't dream of subjecting Lorraine -- their son's new bride -- to such galling inconveniences. Elements in the story are repeated and repeated, as though for padding; as if the author couldn't come up with fresh material or think up interesting twists/turns. Most sadly, Lorraine and Nick -- despite being THE main characters -- are boring. Their personalities aren't fleshed out; I felt apathetic towards both. The only interesting characters are Felicia and Breasel. The author does have one character killed off; the wrong one, imo. And the ending seems so rushed.

Trixie gives it 2 Paws: "Cat-like" is mentioned.

Of course this is just a subjective opinion. Others might find the book entertaining. I was in a hurry to finish it; that's how unsatisfied I was.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New: Co-reviewer / rating system

Since she likes curling up with Mommy while I'm reading [and trying to gnaw/chew on cover corners] and she's absolutely lazy in the daytime [sacked out on the day-bed usually], I've decided to put Trixie to good use: Co-reviewer of my Gothic novels. Her rating system will be:

One Paw: This stinks. No cat mentioned; nothing pertaining to cats whatsoever. A dog must have written this! You humans are SO species-ist; it's all about you self-important BIPEDS or those barking knuckleheads you love so much...! [You get the drift; see what I have to put up with?]

Two Paws: Alludes to a cat just once. I'm so NOT impressed.

Three Paws: Meow-velous! A cat figures in the story, maybe even mentioned by name!

Four Paws: **Double** meow-velous! I'm bowled over! There is a cat in the cover art AND s/he has a name in the story. All cats should *definitely* curl up with their Mom or Dad while reading this novel...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

~*~ Happy Holidays! ~*~

Wishing my regular readers Happy Holidays and a Prosperous New Year! It wouldn't take much for 2009 to be more prosperous, huh? :-\

Those black Yule trees truly are beauties. There are none for sale around here, and I doubt my husband would go for one. We have the traditional green up and decorated; it's a "Charlie Brown" artificial tree I've had since 1991. Brought it with me from NE, have kept it this long out of sheer sentiment. It looks rather ragged and "good grief" when taken out of its original box, but once decorated it's a *dazzler* which looks fine enough for a department-store window. :-D I should take Before/After pictures to prove this. Even I'm like, "Wow...that's the same tree??"

I might take a slow-down over the next two weeks; not only because of the impending major holidays, but also I've picked up some non-fictional material I want to dive into. But more cover scans and reviews are forthcoming.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Let's Scare Jessica to Death [film - 1971]

This is an excellent movie I've managed to catch a couple of times on late-night or Sunday-afternoon TV. I'm generally not a movie fan and don't collect many of them; but this film is a stand-out and it is Gothic. I'm going to order a copy. It's been a while since I've seen LSJtD, so I'll defer to this man's fine review from IMDb [The Internet Movie Database]:

Dreams or nightmares, madness or sanity...it's amazing. Author: Vince-5 from northeastern PA:

Unjustly neglected, Let's Scare Jessica to Death ranks with The Haunting (1963) as a classic of understated horror. Everything about it is brilliantly eerie--from the tombstone etchings to the hostile townsfolk to the whispering voices in Jessica's head. From beginning to end, there is a distinct impression that beneath this picturesque rural setting something is very wrong...and this sense builds slowly and lyrically, leading up to a breathtaking shock-twist climax. And still, as in The Haunting, we're left with the question, "Was it real?"

Benefiting from a well-utilized low budget and beautiful color photography, this is one of the most subtly scary motion pictures you'll ever find. The characters are well-rounded and brought to life by a team of talented character actors. Zohra Lampert positively glows as the sweet, delicate Jessica; she is superbly expressive and keeps you firmly at her side all the way. Her performance should be studied as a casebook example of how to play a fragile, sympathetic character. And this rich, highly imaginative Gothic chiller is essential viewing for fans of intelligent terror.+++

This film includes Jessica's tombstone-rubbing "hobby," which was the first time I'd seen or known of it. If you get the chance and haven't already, rent and watch it.

Image obtained from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0067341/

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thank you Barrymore & Cover art via Ebay/Amazon

First, thank you Barrymore for sending me a scan of "Mistress of Ravenstone" by Monica Heath! :-) I'm currently (albeit slowly, due to increasing holiday rush) reading and relishing it.

I've obtained 2 additional cover art via Ebay [camera icon], 1 via Amazon. Thanks again Karswell for recommending Ebay as a cover scan source; it's been a lifesaver.

Here they are:

Whistle for the Crows was reviewed on May 25.

Nurse at the Castle was reviewed on July 2.

The Secrets of Dr. Taverner was recommended on August 30.

I'll include the scans in the reviews ASAP.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Food in the stories: Feast or Famine

Last evening Lorraine and Nicholas enjoyed St. Honore cake with coffee; they're just becoming acquainted. I've probably heard of St. Honore cake, but had to Google for it. Yuuum! Thank goodness it's 1973; if 2008 they'd be munching on rice cakes with cucumber slices instead (yuuuck!). "The tantalizing aroma of fresh-baked pastry rose around us in moistly fragrant waves..." I am so there. ;-)

Nicholas tells Lorraine she has a wholesome appearance; as though she'd been reared on "fresh milk and apples." That's *whole* milk, no doubt, as in all those old TV shows wherein a child always has a tall cold glass of milk with a sandwich (Wonder Bread brand, no doubt; white) or slice of chocolate fudge layer cake.

The authors, perhaps due in part to their own preferences, seem to be "feast or famine." In some stories "tea and toast" is mostly what the heroine subsists on. Or, more rarely, coffee and cigarettes. :-\ In "Reception at High Tower," the heroine is fearful of suffering from hallucinations and does have a spotty memory; she's still recovering from a nervous breakdown. And yet she consistently refuses to eat, including 36 hours of nothing but coffee and cigarettes. That was annoying; she would have especially needed her strength then.

Otherwise we're treated to mouth-watering descriptions of succulent roast beef with thick gravy, baked potatoes, apple pie, tender filet of fish, fancy puddings, etc. And there's the inevitable *TRAY* of food delivered up to one's room. Served in bed [if the master or mistress of the mansion], or carried to the heroine's room. That'd be a nice luxurious option; "Yes, please send a tray up."

I like descriptions of meals in the stories, even if I don't need the temptation.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"Gloomy Sunday" Update

A delicate topic, and with all due [tremendous] respect: Perhaps it's my imagination, but it seems Absinthe's "Gloomy Sunday" blog is becoming harder to access via Google Cached feature; which is the only way I know to access it now.

I've tried contacting Absinthe via e-mail, and more recently via snail-mail. I'm awaiting [hopefully] a snail-mail reply. Please do *not* request her street address from me; I will not give it out.

I've copied/pasted to My Pictures the 3 Gothic Romance comic books Absinthe scanned and posted to Gloomy Sunday. I will eventually contact a GR message board and request those images be included in their Files section. If not, I'll consider a "Plan B" in honor of Absinthe's work/effort in sharing those images with us ["Plan B" will *not* include this blog]. One of those comics alone is 39 pages! {-whew!-} I'm especially awed at Absinthe's devotion.

It seems there was a 4th comic she scanned/posted. From "Sinister House of Secret Love"? I recall one panel of a "modern" woman seated in the back of a car beside a burial plot on a rainy day. Can't find it. :-(

Meanwhile I'll wait a while to see if I get word from Absinthe. :-) If not, my next update will concern inclusion of the comic-book images elsewhere.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Shadows by Jan Alexander [1970]

Obtained this cover scan via Fantasticfiction.co.uk. It's just a tad fuzzy, and the words beneath Shadows reads: "Ghosts rule a Hollywood manor with a deadly hand -- must Mari join them in eternal damnation?"

I finished reading this marvelous novel 20 minutes ago. It rates a definite *5 Stars* on a scale of 1-5.

The author, Jan Alexander, is actually Victor J. Banis. Apparently he is/was "a native Californian who grew up in the movie colony." This is the 2nd of such Hollywood-oriented Gothics I've read, the previous of which was "Mist of Evil" by Patty Brisco [reviewed in September]. For some reason I've liked the Hollywood "movie scene" draw and was happy to find this Gothic last month.

Mari Andrews is the 24-year-old niece of Maggie Berke, a living Hollywood legend. Mari's been working in her native Minneapolis, MN, with her mother, Maggie's sister, in their own fashion/clothing business. But Mari is intrigued with Maggie [who is gracious and good-hearted despite her phenomenal fame and money; just PLEASE don't call her "Aunt" Maggie ;-P ], and decides to pay Maggie a visit [it's been 20 years] while trying her hand at breaking into show biz.

I like this descriptive of Maggie, glamorous and regal on the stair landing, greeting Mari with "...that familiar pose; hip thrust to one side, arms outstretched, head thrown back in a frozen toss of laughter."

Can't you just SEE that? Powerful descriptive, particularly the last.

Maggie is elated with Mari's visit. Buddy's spirit, however, isn't. Just as Mari is about to cross the landing to sail upstairs and into her aunt's welcoming arms, the huge and heavy overhead chandelier comes crashing down. A terrified woman appears behind Maggie, nearly leaping on her and screaming in terror: Elisa.

Elisa is Maggie's stepdaughter. She's convinced Buddy's ghost doesn't want Mari there. From the get-go she's cold, unwelcoming, nervous and hostile towards Mari. Is it a case of exaggerated superstition or something else? And what, if anything, has Davis -- the maintenance man -- to do with Elisa's moods?

As for Davis, he's a sinister character. Rude, abrupt, hostile; doesn't behave like an employee of an estate.

Maggie's son, Buddy Berke, had been a childhood Hollywood sensation; even bigger than Shirley Temple. Unfortunately Buddy died tragically of pneumonia before age 10. His death haunts Maggie, who blames herself; The Aerie [her palatial estate] is a memorial to her beloved Buddy. And she's convinced his spirit haunts the place; visits and speaks to her. And what Buddy's telling his mother is he hates Mari and wants her gone.

Mari soon meets Maggie's dashing young doctor, Ken Wolfe. They strike up a sweet and slow romance. Mari is ruled out as actress material. She knows eventually she must return to MN if the romance with Dr. Wolfe doesn't work out; Maggie is supportive and hospitable...for a while.

Then, at The Aerie, matters take a progressive turn for the worse. Maggie seems to be losing her grip on reality. Though she's not yet 60, is she perhaps in the early stages of senility? Is she losing her mind due to insanity? Buddy's spirit continues to warn Maggie that Mari's in danger and should leave. Maggie is upset by Buddy's unjustified hostility. Mari is visited at nights by an apparition-like being; at one point she is nearly killed.

The story is a heady brew of tranquilizers, a seance, a temporary disappearance, action [more on Mari's part than any other protagonist's I've yet read], deliberate interference on Mari's part to frustrate the plans of her enemy [you go girl!] and of course intrigue.

Unlike other Gothics of the time I've read, this one included a reference to the Apollo Program [watching a simulation of going to the Moon and back], and also a vivid and enjoyable description of "hippies" strolling and dancing along the Sunset Strip.

There is one "blooper" in the storytelling: At one point Maggie and Mari are in the library, reminiscing over Maggie's old glamour shots. Maggie begins reminiscing about Buddy, becomes mildly upset. They're in the mansion, in the library. The next chapter continues the scene...with them *outdoors* and discussing going back inside, which they do. The devil is truly in the details with storytelling; I know that first-hand. :-\

There are two terrific surprises at the end. Just when the story seems to be flagging, straining at the bit to be finished -- it GETS finished, in spectacular fashion. :-) Very satisfying.

The cast of characters as I visualized them:

Ms. Maggie Berke [age 59]: Joan Bennett, with sable-brown hair.

Mari Andrews [age 24]: A mixture of pretty young actresses at the time: Soft brunette hair pulled back, large hazel-green eyes, fine features.

Dr. Kenneth Wolfe [age 29]: George Peppard.

Elisa [age 28]: I disliked this character so didn't bother.

Davis [age 32]: Clint Eastwood.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Are Star Wars Eps. II & III Gothic Romance?

Beautiful lady, dashing and handsome suitor. After a 10-year absence, a whirlwind romance ensues. A secret love, secret wedding. They're young, could have a bright and happy future ahead of them...except for the escalation of Darkness and warfare. Danger, deceit and trickery swirling all around. Can their love save them?

And then all does go so horribly wrong.

A *negative* Gothic Romance? There is no happy ending here. Same as many storylines on "Dark Shadows."

I think it could classify as a Gothic Romance; it contains the necessary elements including suspense, betrayal, sinister powers, scheming and manipulation vs. nobility, kindness and bravery, etc.


I've begun reading two Gothics. In one [published in 1970], the main character -- an actress named Maggie -- is described by her niece [the protagonist] as "a little old lady": Gaunt skin, slightly stooped posture, entirely gray hair, only a ghost of her former beauty remaining. I figured the grand dame is perhaps 78? Turns out Maggie is only *almost* 60 years old. What a change from today, with our hot 60-something sirens like Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, Susan Lucci. Sure, some of it is advanced cosmetic techniques. But it's true that "60 is the new 40." It was a nice reminder of "then and now."

Friday, December 5, 2008

I'm in Gloomy Sunday withdrawal...

Oh gosh do I miss Absinthe and her Gloomy Sunday blog! :-( I'm definitely in withdrawal.

Absinthe's blog can still be viewed via Google Cached feature. Type in (for example) Gloomy Sunday: September 2008 and select the Cached option. You'll also be able to view Comments section.

Absinthe scanned and posted at least 2, and maybe 3, Gothic Romance comic books from the early 1970s. If I don't hear back from Absinthe (will wait a while), I'll contact the owner of a Gothic Romance *message board* and see if she/they will allow me to post those comic book images to their Library File. I'd hope Absinthe would be pleased with further sharing of those lovely pages and her work/effort at that message board.

I also own two GR comic books; I'll consider scanning (in the future) the one she DIDN'T own and DIDN'T scan.

More later... *sad sigh*

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Lord Satan by Janet Louise Roberts [1972]

This is the copy Absinthe included in her prize box to me last month. Still no word on Absinthe and Gloomy Sunday; I sadly presume that wonderful blog is permanently no more, am concerned about Absinthe...and a bit depressed. She previously scanned this cover, and before disappearing offered (in a recent Comments section here) to let me "snag" her scans. I'm grateful.

This novel was also published via Avon, and was one of its "Satanic Gothics." That cover has been posted here; scroll down 5 posts.

This is a strange novel. Initially I liked it, then began disliking it, and towards the end it finally won me over. It's dramatic, sometimes a bit silly, always entertaining.

It's October 1815. Adrienne Caudill is a 17-year-old Englishwoman whose dear father recently died after suffering an accident. Her mother is already deceased. Innocent, naive, sheltered, Adrienne has nowhere to go; and then a letter arrives from a 3rd cousin, Vincent Stanton, Lord of Castle Caudill [they are related via their mothers], also known as Lord Satan ["With a name like Satan, it's got to be trouble"]. He is concerned for her, wishes to have "a care for" her. Will she come and be his guest at Castle Caudill? She agrees and travels to meet him at an Inn. They meet, dine together; then he whisks her home and immediately sets about dominating and controlling her [no surprise].

And this is where the novel gets a bit irksome: Adrienne [that was a name for any English woman in 1815?] is *very* innocent/naive; to the point of being more like 12 than 17. Though women of the time didn't go to raves nor learn martial arts, she's far too naive and sheltered for a common fisherman's daughter in a humble village [a harsh/rough life]; at this point she's a rather unbelievable character.

Vincent is domineering to the point of physically carrying and/or supporting her wherever they go. He decides what she'll wear, how her hair will be fixed, picks her wardrobe, even prepares her tea [controlling how much sugar and cream it'll contain]; all that is no surprise [to a point]. But he also holds goblets and cups to her lips for her to drink from, on and on [ *rolleyes* ]. What was especially tiring was all the *carrying* of Adrienne to and fro; eventually she'd develop atrophy of the muscles or gain 100 pounds from lack of exercise! I'm surprised Vincent didn't use his magical demonic powers to blink her eyelids for her; Satan forbid Adrienne have to exert herself in any respect!

It's all rather overdone. :-\ The cutsie-pie babydoll thing was another.

But then...BUT THEN...

They marry. And things get interesting from there [despite certain logical flaws in the telling]. Their "wedding" is a harrowing nightmare in which Vincent must make his bride nearly blacking-out drunk in order to withstand it. And unbeknownst to our dear little Adrienne, her father-in-law also participates in "the ceremony"...and if she recalled his participation at all, she'd never be friendly to him as she was later.

Vincent continues his controlling, ill-tempered, domineering ways. He threatens to beat Adrienne if she doesn't obey. She is torn between remaining and leaving, especially after witnessing a Black Mass. But she realizes he won't ever let her go. Adrienne resolves to love Vincent and try to change him for good and God. However, Vincent is truly half devil and half human.

And then murders on the moors ensue. A serial rapist and killer of young girls is on the loose. Adrienne discovers she's pregnant. She resolves to discover whether or not Vincent is the rapist/killer of the girls before their baby is born.

The ghost of Vincent's mother is a charming addition to the story. A major *flaw* in the novel is the involvement of Vincent's father [Roderick] -- who is a devil. At one point they're discussing the *evil* of the murders on the moors, getting Satan himself to intervene to discover who the murderer is, discussing whether or not a man in the village [a suspect in the rapes/murders] "is possessed by evil"...um, they're devil and 1/2 devil, decrying EVIL? Vincent asks his father if he's gotten a report on the matter from Satan. So...Satan & Co are crime fighters? When Vincent is formally accused of being the villain, he and Roderick threaten to punish the entire village with death; this despite Vincent saying he's not a murderer and would never murder, especially not children. Then in the next paragraph he's threatening again to destroy *everyone* in the village. Isn't that...murder? The author really fell down on this one, geez!!

Adrienne does mature quickly. Of course she must. She becomes a courageous heroine, brave and noble. She's kind and caring to all around her -- including and especially to the poor and frightened villagers and tenants; she often intervenes on their behalf against Vincent's initial cruelty and intolerance. On that basis, I give the novel 4 stars; otherwise I'd give it 3.

I visualized the characters as they're described in the book.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Signet Double Gothic

Found this lovely Signet Double Gothic by accident, while browsing a Canadian bookstore for a Belmont DG; they scanned the cover. Not sure how many DG's Signet produced; Googling with "Signet Double Gothic" yields up 4 additional volumes.

I especially like the artwork for "Night at Sea Abbey"; it's both Gothic and *Fantasy*, imo. :-) Love those blues and greens, and her red blouse is a dramatic contrast.

It's a surprisingly thick book; nearly twice as many pages as all Belmont DG's I own. Each story is probably 50 pages longer. But that's not necessarily a plus; I prefer my stories short and sweet.

Am very glad to have this in my collection.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Gloomy Sunday "gone"--?

I see Absinthe posted to her blog again 2 days ago. I clicked on the link to read it, but this error message results:

"Blog has been removed

Sorry, the blog at glooomysunday.blogspot.com has been removed. This address is not available for new blogs.

Did you expect to see your blog here? See: 'I can't find my blog on the Web, where is it?'"


I went to Google and entered "Lived Castle Gloomy Sunday" to pull up the link to her review of "We Have Always Lived in the Castle." That too results in the above error message. :-( Nothing I try will bring up the Gloomy Sunday blog.

Will write Absinthe privately if there's no response to this post. I hope everything is okay...

And now I'm a bit concerned my blog might suddenly vanish. :-O