Thursday, January 27, 2011

Victoria Holt: The Time of the Hunter's Moon

This novel makes for the second in a reread of the Holt novels I devoured half a lifetime ago. I figure I need to review several of her works since she is a widely loved gothic romance author. I was not a huge fan of hers, but I like the genre. I read most of the novels I could find by her all those years ago. I wanted to see if my opinion from then holds up.

Published in 1983, The Time of the Hunter's Moon is a gothic romance or romantic suspense novel and a later offering in Holt's (Eleanor Hibbert's) prolific career. I classify it as possibly romantic suspense because it is something of a murder mystery with very little Gothic atmosphere.

Characterization: 3/5 [ Cordelia Grant is a bit complex, and I like that. Jason Verringer makes an appealing love interest as well, though a troublesome one. Edward Compton is also an intriguing character. One complaint I have with the characters in this novel is that I could only picture a few of them-- Cordelia, Violet, Aunt Patty, and Theresa. Holt provides a dearth of physical description, and I happen to think physical description is important for gothic romance novels. The most well rounded, loveable character in the novel is Aunt Patty, rather than the heroine, interestingly enough.]

Plot: 3/5 [Holt excels in this area-- the twisted plot. I knew what was going to happen some 100 pages in. I remembered from all those years ago, but this novel is quite ingenious. One issue with the plot: Holt comes close to a forced seduction scene with bad consequences for the heroine. Her choices later in the novel regarding the great romance of the book are interesting as well. I have to say I was not happy with the heroine's romantic decisions ultimately.]

Atmsophere/spooky elements: 2/5 [I like the idea of an abbey and of the hunter's moon legend, and this novel is probably actually one of Holt's more atmospheric, but it still falls a bit flat. It does have some spooky images called forth by the thought of long dead monks. I think Holt could have really exploited Verringer's ancestral home in terms of atmosphere. She didn't, and that is a huge downfall of the novel.]

Literary heft: 2/5 [This one is really just fun.]

Romantic elements: 2/5 [I was dissatisfied with this one. The forced seduction (or almost scene) left a bad taste in my mouth as did other events in the novel. It made the heroine's decisions unbelievable. You can read it for yourself, though, and let me know what you think. I like a Heathcliff type as much as the next girl, but I don't think it works as written.]

Rating: 2.5 + stars

** I am on the fence about this one. With all the great classic gothic romances out there, you might skip it. If you've read it, please let me know what you think in the comments! :)

I do love the cover art on this one. It's unique. Some of the newer covers are gorgeous as well.

The Time of the Hunter's Moon


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Lisa Greer said...

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Fiddlette said...

I liked this one, but then I really like the twists and turns and also the typical male lead in Victoria Holt novels...they are always "stinkers" and like Anne of Green Gables fame said so well, "I wouldn't marry anyone who was really wicked, but I think I'd like it if he COULD be wicked and wouldn't". That is in a nutshell the typical VH hero...and imo, desperately attractive, also love the female leads in VH novels...always strong minded and silly idiots...but then again, I'm not as keen on dramatic descriptions of atmosphere as you are, but aving read your blog, I do agree now that it is something to admire, and your point is well taken.

kate_wabe said...

For me, having aunt patty as the most loved character in this novel is quite fresh and Cordelia being complex is a rather interesting one. I have always loved novels wherein the main protagonist isn't always the center of the story but their other purpose is to highlight some characters as well. I'm not really an expert of gothic novels but somehow I could picture the atmosphere created by the author. By the way, I have read this novel for the 3rd time already. Loved it!

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