I am going to depart a bit from the novels I have been reviewing so far. I want to review a truly Gothic novel in the tradition of those written in the 18th and 19th centuries. I am referring to Douglas Clegg's novel, Isis, published in 2009. I have the hardback copy of it, and folks, it is gorgeous. The front cover contains Gothic images and artwork in black and white: skulls, bones, windows, gates, faces, and the lead characters in the center. The back cover is the same. The inside of the novel also contains illustrations. All of these are done by Glenn Chadbourne.
This novel is short and sweet, but it packs plenty of shivers and thrills. I was truly unsettled after reading this short tale about Iris Catherine Villiers and her brothers, Harvey and Spence. The Cornwall setting of the ancestral home-- Belerion Hall-- places it firmly in the gothic tradition. An accident happens one day, and life is never the same for Iris or her family. I don't want to give away too much, because the novel is fabulous. The story is quite spooky, and I found myself looking over my shoulder many times in the next few weeks.
Plot: 4/5 [The plot moves at a steady pace, and unfolds well.]
Characterization: 5/5 [Iris and the brothers are perfection as is the stern Grandfather (I thought of George C. Scott) and Old Marsh, the creepy gardener.]
Atmosphere/Spooky things: 5/5 [Yes, yes, yes. The ghost, the tombs, and the setting in general in this novel are real and frightening as are the premonitions and warnings of Old Marsh.]
Literary: 4/5 [Yes, the novel reads like an old Gothic novel. It is not to be missed.]
Romance: Not really, but there is the hint of twisted love.
** I highly recommend this novel. Clegg is a seasoned horror/supernatural writer (and all around nice guy who has a great website and Facebook page), and his skill shines here. And at just 113 pages, you could read it in one sitting on a stormy day: I don't recommend reading it at night unless you want to stay up!