Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Josephine Boyle: Holy Terror/contest reminder

Just as a reminder, if you want to enter to win a copy of a Gothic novel, all you have to do is post a comment on any thread by September 15th. There will be (at least) a monthly contest, and the winner will be decided in different ways, so if you don't win this one, you can post again on Sept. 16th and beyond for the October contest. :) Here's the link to the details:


Now, on to the review. I stumbled upon this wonderful Gothic novel, Holy Terror, (don't you love that title?!) by Josephine Boyle in the library last fall. It was published in 1993, and it's proof that good Gothics are still out there from the last fifteen or twenty years. Apparently, Boyle has written other novels, but they are not easy to find locally.

Emily Wakelin and her husband John move to an humble cottage in a rural English community. Emily is a gifted artist-- especially with embroidering. She quickly receives a commission to work on an elaborate tapestry of a famous local holy man of the people from the early days of the village.

Soon, she also becomes friends with the elderly Lady Curran and her husband next door in Holly House; she is fascinated and frightened by the house on the outside and the inside. Her husband travels often, so her imagination concerning the goings on there only grows. Her visits to Holly House don't ease her mind any since she feels a ghostly presence and mounting terror each time.

Unfriendly church members are a menacing force in the novel as well as the mystery of the ghost next door and the link to the local saint Emily is bringing to life with her art unravels.

Plot: 5/5 [The pacing was perfect. I enjoyed every moment of this novel.]

Characterization: 4/5 [Some characters could have been better drawn, but I easily picture Emily Wakelin played by Juliet Binoche and Lady Curran's character as Dame Judi Dench.]

Atmosphere/spooky elements: 5/5 [This one totally delivers; it is creepy with Gothic spaces,  ghostly presences, bad weather, and other Gothic elements.]

Literary? 5/5 [Yes. The book is smart, and I learned about art and about history from a creative perspective.]

Romance? Yes, but it takes a back seat to the Gothic elements which is just fine with me.

Rating: 4.5+ stars  ****.5

Don't miss this one. If you ever see it in your library, thrift store, book sale, or used bookstore, snag it, and let me know what you think. Has anyone read it? If so, did you enjoy it?

I don't have a picture of this one. The hardcover is simply black with the words Holy Terror on it and the author's name. I wish I could find an image; I don't have a copy handy, but I saw it at the library today and remembered that I wanted to review it as little known but worth reading.

Holy Terror (Magna Large Print General Series)


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