Monday, December 13, 2010

Monica Heath: Clerycastle

This novel, published in 1969, is one of Heath's earlier works. I have it in a Signet Double Gothic edition which is pretty neat. This novel is pretty different in quality and sophistication from Calderwood, a later novel I reviewed on this blog. It is obvious that Heath wrote many novels and got better at it over time.  I guess that is the case with most authors if they continue to learn their craft.

In the novel, Starla Shea has come to Ireland to research a biography about her uncle. She is quickly intercepted by the handsome but mysterious Lord McClery who implores her to go with him to Clerycastle and write the family's history. Though he is strangely obsessed with her and insists she is an O'Shea and his wolf ring scares her as do the legends of a woman  killed by a wolf, she goes with him after a scare in a graveyard. From there, mysteries unfold. Is there a wolf prowling the grounds of Clerycastle? Who is Starla's mother? Was she really an O'Shea? And are the intentions of Chavner and his younger twin, Conal McClery, honorable?

Characters: 3/5[ The characters are one dimensional, for the most part. Lord Chavner McClery seemed the most vibrant (and I love that name and Conal McClery as well).]

Plot: 3/5 [I knew pretty early on what was going to happen more or less. That is interesting because Calderwood was the opposite: the ending shocked me. I will say that Heath obviously has a thing for twins. :)]

Atmosphere/spooky elements: 3/5 [The wolf thing really worked in the early stages of the novel. Heath can also write a graveyard scene like no other author I know of. Mood and atmosphere were lacking, though, once Starla got to Clerycastle. The novel lacked description of the room she was in (I like to know where the heroine is sleeping!), and that bugged me immediately.]

Literary elements: 2/5 Nah. [This one is pretty fluffy all around.]

Romance: 3/5 [Yeah, I added an element for gothic romance novels; I thought this might be helpful for those of you who choose what to read based on the romance in the book (or more for the romance or equally for romance and gothic elements). This one has some spark in it but it's not that romantic, in my opinion.]

Rating: 2.5+ stars   **.5+

I recommend this one if you like double gothics or wolves. Otherwise, it's pretty weak, but I look forward to reading Return to Clerycastle next.

My daughter is holding the double gothic. Sorry for the blur; I continue to be cheap and not buy another camera phone. ;)


Clark said...

I like the new element of Romance that you have added. It will be interesting how you rate these older gothic romance novels. Sometimes after I finish reading one of these so called Gothic Romances I'll chuckle to myself because in some of these books there isn't even a kiss in the whole book. Romance without even one kiss? I guess those books really were written in a different time. Maybe that's also why I like these old books so much. Looking forward to reading more of your reviews.

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