This novel, another early Gothic published in 1953, is by the author of The Uninvited, Dorothy Macardle. I have looked for a low cost copy of that novel (also a play) for some time and have not found it, but it's a cult horror/spooky classic. I stumbled upon this one in a thrift store and decided to give it a go.
Anyway, in this novel, the heroine, Juliet Cunningham, has just left a dismal teaching school and is traveling with her father, Frith Cunningham-- love that name!-- , a movie director and alcoholic. Juliet is anemic and in poor health; her fragility is focused upon heavily in the opening chapters of the novel. She and her father travel to a small village in France where she begins to regain her strength. Juliet decides to stay there to live-- to learn to fend for herself. Her mother is out of the picture with a lover which is of course a big scandal.
After Juliet is left alone by her father, strange things begin happening. Witches and one-eyed gypsies make their appearances, and the tarot cards read doom. Whom can Juliet trust? Is the man she loves, Michael Faulkner, trustworthy?
Characterization: 3/5 [I pictured Juliet as a thin blond, but she wasn't described well enough for my taste other than being tiny and frail. Her father I saw in my mind's eye as Sean Connery. I couldn't envision Michael Faulkner. I like to see my hero and heroine!]
Plot: 2/5 [This novel just sort of meandered; I read for 71 pages, waiting for the scary or the good story line, but it just wasn't there-- just drinking, wandering around bazaars, and that's about it. Great plot stuff might have appeared later, but I didn't feel like reading 170+ more pages to find it.]
Atmosphere/creepy elements: 2/5 [The only creepy thing in the first 71 pages was a one-eyed gypsy woman-- still gorgeous of course-- who lived in the woods. Seriously.]
Literary elements: 3/5 [The writing is not bad; the story is just boring at best. There is information about gypsies and their history that is intriguing.]
Romance? Yes... it was slowly developing.
Rating: 2+ stars **+
I do not recommend this one. This novel must be a weak one for Macardle from what I have heard of her other novel/play as mentioned earlier in the review. Comparing this work to one of Mary Stewart's from the same era shows the shortcomings of the novel: no scariness, suspense, or even the tiniest hint of dread.