Friday, September 17, 2010

Dianne Day: Obsidian

This novel was published in 1987; I found it in the paperback section of my library because it looked and sounded like a Gothic from the front cover and back blurb.

Rosamund Hill, a medical student from up North who needs a break, takes a position as home nurse for the manic-depressive and diabetic lady of the house, Arabella Charpentier, at a Southern ancestral mansion named, imaginatively, Charpentier. From the beginning strange things happen: second sight, visions, time lapses, and omens. Rosamund longs for normalcy which she has had until the last few months, despite her mother's disappearance when she was a young child and her upbringing by an aunt.

To make matters worse, Rosamund falls in love with Charles Charpentier, Arabella's husband, and the local reverend is also vying for her affections.

The tension mounts as events unfold, and tragedy looms.

Characterization: 4/5 [I like the details the author includes and I can picture most characters. Rosamund might be played by a young Sissy Spacek while Charles could be played by Joaquin Phoenix (or someone taller). Arabella I see as totally Angelina Jolie with green eyes, thin arms, and bewitching looks, and Regina could be portrayed by Halle Berry.]

Plot: 5/5 [I didn't want to put this one down; the plot kept moving steadily with twists and turns thrown in along the way.]

Atmosphere/spooky elements: 5/5 [This novel has atmosphere-- a mad woman, dead birds, second sight, spooky graveyards, old plantation, creepy characters galore, possible possessions, water like a black sphere... and so on.]

Literary?: 4/5 [The writing is quite good.]

Romance? Yes, plenty of it-- dripping through the pages. In fact, at times, the dialogue from Charles gets a little corny, but it's not bad enough to make me give up on the novel. Romance is certainly not sacrificed for chills and thrills in this novel. In fact, the speed with which Charles Charpentier makes a play for Rosamund made my head spin. I found Rosamund to be a strong character with her own mind, and I like that as well.

Rating: 4+ stars

I recommend this one as a worthy addition to the modern Gothic genre. It is one of that rarest of finds-- a truly spooky and suspenseful Gothic Novel from the 80s and on.


bookwomen said...

Thanks for the review. I love Southern Gothic Novels.

lisalgreer said...

Hi, bookwomen. Thanks for dropping by! We will be doing some other Southern Gothics on the blog. There is also a review of Donna Tartt's 'The Little Friend' a few entries back by Shaindel Beers...

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