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", 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.

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