Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Witches of Windlake, by Miriam Lynch

Late '60s, IIRC. Another bomb by Miriam Lynch (I'm beginning to wonder if "The Bells of Widow's Bay" was an exception for her??). This is another Gothic I set aside after roughly 50 pages (if that) into it. The cover art was obtained via FantasticFiction.uk. It is one of the more beautifully sinister of covers, and a pity it's a bit blurred. Deep reds and stark blacks dominate.

The story opens with a downtrodden late-teenaged heroine taking a stroll on an icy and bitterly cold late November afternoon. I was born/raised in Iowa, and that just does NOT happen. I wonder if Ms. Lynch was a native southern Californian; they seem to think people up north walk barefoot in the snow. >:-\ Anyway, the heroine's homelife is impoverished and mean. Her stepmother and half-siblings are against her, and she's seeking an afternoon away from the usual drudgery. She again comes across a nearby bleak old mansion and this time, feeling extra gutsy even if the sun is near to sinking beneath the horizon and it's the late 1800s and she has nary a lantern nor a candle on her, decides to investigate.

Turns out the menacing semi-dilapidated old house is inhabited. Initially its inhabitants aren't friendly, but she's allowed entrance. She's sized up by the master of the domain, who likes what he sees; he's a widower with an out-of-control son. Would she be willing to become the child's governess for good pay and free room/board?

The heroine readily accepts. She won't even bother returning home to inform her family. She dines with her new employers, one of whom is grandmother of the heroine's new charge. A fancy dinner is spread out in a luxurious dining room. The delicious meal starts off well enough...and then a pall descends over the hosts. Everyone picks fearfully at their plates. The heroine soon learns that witchly in-laws have been chasing down father and son; and within half an hour these 3 "grand dames" arrive and begin asserting control.

I found the storywriting stilted, and the course of events far too rushed and improbable. Maybe I'll pick it up again some time, but have no great urge to.

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