Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Joan Aiken: The Silence of Herondale

This novel, The Silence of Herondale, was published in 1973. I love that title. I have the Pocket Books edition and could not manage a great cover image, but it's standard blue and white background, mist, house rising up and young woman in blue running. What is neat is the wonderful facial detail on the young lady in this novel cover; she looks terrified. I have linked to the ACE Gothic cover below on the Amazon site; that is the original cover, published in 1964.

Deborah Lindsay, the heroine, is a college aged, Canadian young woman whose parents and family are all dead. She has moved to London to become an actress. After failed attempts, she is nearly starving, so she applies to be a governess/tutor for a young girl.

She gets the job and finds out her charge is a famous young playwright, Carreen Gilmartin.

Deborah follows Carreen to Herondale on the moors, and mysterious events occur when Jeremy Gilmartin, Carreen's long lost cousin also appears. The silent, sleepy town stands as a backdrop to the drama going on in the house. Both Carreen and Jeremy are named in their possibly murdered uncle's will. Is a murderer stalking the house because of the inheritance, or is the Slipper Killer on the loose on the moors?

Plot: 4/5 [This one grabbed me on page one and kept the pace quite well for most of the novel.]

Characterization: 4/5 [I could really picture Deborah as perhaps a young Sandra Bullock. The other characters were also nicely drawn.]

Atmosphere/spooky elements: 3/5 [These took a bit to pile on, but they came around page 40 and on-- spooky farm house on the creepy moors (which are described well), train rides, snowing in, murderous accidents. I just didn't find the novel terribly atmospheric or really creepy.]

Literary elements: 3/5 [This one is a bit fluffy, but it is well written.]

Romance? Yes, but it begins pretty late in the novel-- three-quarters of the way in almost.

Rating: 3+ stars    ***+

I have yet to be wowed by the Aiken titles I have read (the Gothic Romances, I mean. I like her Jane Austen add ons). This one is good, but it's not great.


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