Saturday, April 21, 2012

Barrymore Tebbs' The Yellow Scarf

Isn't this a great cover? The author of The Yellow Scarf and cover artist, Barrymore Tebbs, did it. I love the script and how it sort of ties in with the story; I think it has an Eastern flavor. Once you read it, you'll understand. :)

Here's the blurb for Barrymore Tebbs' The Yellow Scarf:

1969. The Rolling Stones perform a free concert in London’s Hyde Park. Flying high on grass and LSD, Peter, Barnard, Bree, and Tristan rock along with nearly a quarter million people as The Stones make history. With them is Pandora, the once-famous fashion model whose downward spiral into addiction made international headlines, now clinging desperately to the belief that only a power greater than herself can restore her to sanity.

After the concert, these five friends decide to take a weekend jaunt to the country to visit Hampton Close, a crumbling old country house Peter recently inherited from his Great Uncle, Basil Townsend. A former protégé of Aleister Crowley, Basil Townsend was once one of Britain’s most notorious practitioners of the Black Arts.

But inside a locked room at Hampton Close, an ancient evil from a distant land lies festering in the warm, wet darkness, waiting…waiting…waiting…

And my review:

Plot: 5/5-- The novella starts off with a bang and an interesting cast of characters. Tebbs makes London in 1969 come alive. The story moves swiftly to its shudder inducing climax in old Uncle Basil's house. I read it in the afternoon, and I liked it, but I didn't feel frightened. That night... trying to sleep was a different story. It creeped me out, and I couldn't stop thinking about it. So, I didn't sleep too well. I'd call that a great horror story!

Characterization: 4/5-- I adored Peter, the hero of the story if there is one, who is described as a conservative fellow who is trying to shake it off. His friend Barnard is also a well drawn figure with an Afro--the quintessential ladies' man. I thought of Jimi Hendrix. Pandora is a pitiable young woman in recovery from drug addiction. And Bree is the type of not-so-intelligent type of girl you'd expect to find at a spooky old house where things to awry. Finally, there's Tristan, a young man who is at least bi-curious and is in a sort of love triangle with Bree and Barnard. Tebbs highlights the sexual mores of the time with this relationship.

Atmosphere/spooky elements: 5/5-- This story sneaks up on you. At first, it's all acid trips at the Rolling Stones' concert, and then it's sheer revulsion and terror. If you like a good story of the macabre linked to mythology, the occult, and the 1960s, this is your thing.

I'm leaving off romantic elements since this isn't a gothic romance. It is, however, a great psychological Gothic/horror novella. If you like houses with pasts, likable characters, Gothic atmosphere, and a good twist, you'll really enjoy it. 4.5+ stars. Don't miss it!

Here's the buy link at Amazon. For .99 or for borrowing free if you have Amazon Prime. Pick it up if you want to get scared.

**For the sake of full disclosure, I also edited The Yellow Scarf. Be on the lookout for Barrymore Tebbs' upcoming novel, The Haunting of Blackwood Hall. If you like Victoria Holt's work, I think you'll love it.

Find Barrymore on Facebook: Barrymore Tebbs

and at his blog which also reviews and discusses all things Gothic:

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Review: Evelyn Berckman's The Heir of Starvelings (a novel of innocence and evil)

This novel is an unusual one. I have one of its early covers, courtesy of Barrymore Tebbs:

Gorgeous, huh? And the painting behind the woman sort of goes along with the novel. A painting plays a major role in the plot. I had heard before that Berckman's gothics are worth reading. She is lauded as a hidden gem among gothic romance/romantic suspense novelists. Many say she never got her due. I tend to agree after reading The Heir of Starvelings.

I'm not sure how many gothic romances she wrote, but I ran across this one at a Friends of the Library sale and snagged it. My cover looks like this. I couldn't find another on the Internets. I really like the teeth:

A naive innocent, Davina Milne, winds up at the fabled Starvelings--a ramshackle out of the way estate--one day as she's wandering in the woods. The opening sequence is quite tragic and scary. What she finds there changes her life--a neglected young boy who's more than just a common urchin. He's a lord who has been neglected by the lecherous Lord Stanyon and other household members.

The novel is worth reading for the introductory materials alone. Berckman obviously had a great passion for history and its preservation, and Victorian Era history is the focus of this historical gothic/gothic romance.

Plot: 4/5--I enjoyed the novel. It also had a couple great twists. The story line stands out among the many Gothics I've read, and it haunts me when I think about it.

Characterization: 5/5--Davina is a great heroine--strong and bold. She knows her own mind, and she's full of integrity. It's nice to find a heroine who isn't of the TSTL (too stupid to live) variety. Lord Stanyon, William, and the other characters are so well drawn, they step off the page, and indeed, the story is supposed to be based upon a true one.

Atmosphere/creepy elements: 5/5-- This novel nails the closed, isolated and claustrophobic feeling that a good Gothic has. Starvelings is a nightmare, and it's peopled with pathetic human beings. The villain is also scary in his own special way as is his minion. The true fright of this novel is the reality of the way that some human beings are neglected and forgotten... and left to a living horror of an existence.

Romantic elements: 5/5-- I can't say too much about this, but I loved the two males in the novel. One is a lover who has died in the Crimean War, and the other is a young lawyer who woos Davina.

** 4+ stars. I recommend it. If you're looking for something different that has a happy but wistful ending, you'll love it.
Wordpress Theme by wpthemescreator .
Converted To Blogger Template by Anshul .