Just a note: I have made blog commenting easier by removing moderation and verification; this might lead to other issues down the road, but I will stay on it to keep the blog from getting spammed. Please let me know if you are still experiencing trouble with commenting. If not, comment away (and enter the current 48 hour contest please. Your chances will be good, as you would be... well... first). Now, on to the book review...
The Charles Geer cover of The Wild Hunt is the main blog photograph right now. I think his illustration captures the feeling in the novel of Holly Wood and its dark elements well.
Tattersall has been recommended to me several times now. Curiously, her novels are tough to find even in the gothic section of the secondhand store. I found this one published in 1974, The Wild Hunt, in my local library. By page five, I was hooked. Tattersall is a skilled author, and her plotting is deft and original for the genre. She also has a playful and confident narrative voice throughout the novel.
The previously orphaned heroine, Chantal Fabian (what a romantic name!), is 18 and still at a finishing school, thanks to a secret benefactor. One day, she is summoned to a meeting with Lord Mortmain who chooses her to be governess for his nephew. The Earl's scar and maimed leg immediately catch her attention, but his face stirs feelings of fear and almost recognition in her.
From there, the story takes place at the ancestral estate, Holy Mote, and Lady Perowne, Mr. Perowne, Hugh Perowne, and assorted servants play key roles in the story. Are there witches in the house and the woods, or is something else going on? And what exactly does go on in the wild hunt? Does Chantal's childhood friend Rowley have something to do with all of this?
Characterization: 5/5 [The characters are skillfully drawn. I picture Chantal Fabian portrayed by Kirsten Dunst, and Lord Mortmain (love the symbolism of that name) acted by Joaquin Phoenix. Mr. Perowne could be played by Adrian Grenier (the curly hair and good looks).]
Plot: 5/5 [The plot is intriguing from the start, and it never lets up with intrigue, twists, and spooky/Gothic elements mixed with sly humor.]
Atmosphere/spooky elements: 4/5 [The Gothic Novel elements run deeply in this one: witches, masks, drugs, moats, family portraits, maimed anti-heroes and all; however, the novel rarely made me get a chill up my spine. It does entertain, though, and the Gothic elements are well used. I have to say that Jill Tattersall's writing reminds me a bit of Barbara Michaels' writing, though this novel is not one that really chills me as Michaels can. I think it is the humor that is similar.]
Literary: 4/5 [Yes, references are made to various battles and to mythology, and the author's intelligence crackles between the pages, if that makes sense. Some authors are just like that.]
Romance? Yes. This novel has another dark, brooding hero, Lord Mortmain, that I fell in love with. For me, that is the mark of a good Gothic Novel. :)
Rating: 4+ stars ****+
I highly recommend this novel, and I'll be searching now for Tattersall's other works.
THE WILD HUNT