Saturday, May 28, 2011

Harriet Esmond: The Eye Stones

I've finally finished The Eye Stones. It's no real fault of the novel. I've just been busy.

Harriet Esmond is a lovely pen name for husband and wife writing team John and Jean Burke. John Burke's wonderful website is here:

Tales of Unease

Take a look at that horse in the foreground as well as the gorgeous yellow gown. The house has a lighted window, and the colors are dark blues and greens. Very nice.

Plot: 4/5 The novel starts out a bit slowly, but I noticed the narrator describes characters' clothes, etc. immediately with waistcoats and such. So many gothic romance novelists who write historicals don't include such things, and it's annoying to me. Anyway, Deborah Ritchie travels to a remote part of Eastern England after her father's death. She plans to spend time with her half-sister and is shocked to learn her sister Beatrice and husband died in a mysterious fire. A mystery unfolds that includes Satanic rituals, decaying families, sadomasochism and more.

Characterization: 4/5 Nicely done. All the characters are well drawn and memorable, and Deborah is a strong heroine with brains. The tortured hero is yummy as well.

Literary elements: 4/5 The novelists did their research, and it's obvious with Victorian words like mere and others sprinkled throughout the novel. Mentions of other period events also lends credibility to the novel.

Atmosphere/spooky elements: 4/5 There isn't any real ghostly activity going on, but the shocking nature of what the villain and others get up to with the young ladies of the village lends a dark tone to the novel.

Romantic elements: 3/5 The romance isn't hot and heavy in this one, but I rooted for hero and heroine, though I knew early on which man was the one. I prefer to wonder for a while.

Rating: 4 stars ****

If you find a copy of this one, grab it! It is original and interesting.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Joe R. Lansdale: Devil Red

It's been a while, and I'm still looking for guest reviewers/bloggers! If you have a favorite novel you'd like to review or just write about, send me an email or message on Facebook. If you're a gothic romance writer or gothic novelist, let's set up an interview or a guest post. :)

Now, on to the review of Joe R. Lansdale's Devil Red.

Let me begin by saying I love Hap and Leonard. I feel like I know them and can picture them both in my mind easily, though I've never met a guy quite like Leonard. Hap-- actually, I've probably met a few since I'm from Alabama, and these are good ole Texas boys.

With that said, I have a feeling this series is reaching its end. The first 3/4 of the novel was bland. Hap and Leonard have been hired to find the killer who marks his victims with a red devil. The other novels in the series, Mucho Mojo, for example made me laugh so hard I thought I would die. This one had a few laughs, but it was lacking in those as well as snappy dialogue. The girlfriend, Brett, is bland. I miss Florida Grange, and the whole thing seemed to coast for a long time. Hap's angst over killing folks felt contrived and drawn out where it had felt visceral in past novels.

Then suddenly, bam! There is the climax of the novel. It came as a surprise and felt uneven since things had been very flat line to that point. I teared up a bit in that section, and I was glad to see the resolution, but I didn't feel the suspense I usually do in these novels or the catharsis. I knew what was going to happen, and I thought "meh." Some of these Hap and Leonard novels have left me in tears, feeling woebegone and in existential crisis.

In short, this one lacks the magic of the series. I'm thinking perhaps it's near the end. It's been a good run if so. Have you read it? What do you think?

I look forward to future novels by Lansdale. Maybe it's just time for another series or some good stand alones.

I give Devil Red 3 stars. It's good enough to read, but it's not the best in the series.

Rating: *** Stars
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