The Monk – Spoiler Free

Or spoiler-lite.   I should probably never promise to be completely spoiler-free.   The Monk by Matthew Lewis was huge HUGE back in the day.  A Gothic novel that packs every gothic trope in it’s I’m-not-sure-how-many-pages-because-I-read-the-ebook.  I have a weakness for Gothic novels which lead me to read things like The Mysteries of Udolpho in my misspent youth.   Long, tedious, wait forever for revelations which weren’t all that dramatic when you got to them.   I tried to read Melmoth the Wanderer, but when I accidentally skipped 100 pages and couldn’t tell, I stopped.   The Monk suffers from none of this.   It dives right into the action and pretty soon horrible things are happening right and left.  Always remember, if you show a gypsy curse in the first scene, it’s got to go off in the third act.   Innocent young women go through hell.   There are picturesque castles, ghosts, bandits, sorcery, evil monks and nuns – it is, as I said before, packed.


There are tedious parts and many intolerable attitudes about sex and women that haven’t entirely died out even today, but if you don’t expect that from a 200 year old book, I’m not sure what to tell you.    One of the so-called heroes or men you expect to be heroic completely falls down on the job.   The other does pretty well, but neither is terribly impressive.   The timelines of the plots are ridiculous.  The villain is a dope which can get frustrating.   Characters are introduced and disappear for no good reason.   It is a heavily flawed book no one could get away with writing today, but if you like this sort of story, and I do, a little tolerance and it’s still a real page-turner.

Monkalong V – A Day Late, A Buck Short

I’ll write a nonspoilery review of this, too.   But thanks, Alice and my fellow readers!  I had a blast.  Matthew Lewis

No, not that one. I suspect it would be a very different book if written by him.

kept up the insanity to the very end.   The Monk is a moron and can’t even make a proper deal with the devil.  Matilda turns out to be not a fellow victim, but a fellow demon, which actually crossed my mind at one point, but doesn’t count cuz I didn’t write it down.   I felt sorry for him in the end.  I don’t think all he goes through at the end was worth a week of getting it off.   I grant he’s evil, but it’s all so stupid and pointless.   He kills out of cowardice, which doesn’t make it right, and certainly what he did to Antonia is unforgivable, but I’m not into vengeance and torture and so on, so reading the monk’s horrible end wasn’t much fun.   Perhaps if he’d reveled in his evil and really had a good time it would feel more justified, but he was miserable most of the time – before he commits his crimes, while he’s committing his crimes, after he commits the crimes.   Dumbass monk.   I wish the Evil Mother Superior knew before she died what a wretch she was trying to impress.


For all the idiocy, and there is plenty, a ridiculous plot, a useless hero, a pathetic villain, I still love this book.  It’s a roller coaster of happenings.   Lewis really packs it in.   Ghost nuns, blood stained sheets, escapes, castles in Spain and Germany, banditti, evil nuns, evil monks, young women in danger, beauteous orbs, sorcery, Lucifer, murder, rape, incest, kidnapping… you don’t really need any other Gothic novels.   This one has it all.

Spoilerrific cover
Spoilerrific cover

So, again, thanks Alice!  You pick great reads and have a great group to read with!   And thanks to everyone who blogged along!   As I’ve mentioned before, I can’t seem to comment on most blogs, my words just disappear into cyberspace, but I’ve read everyone’s posts and enjoyed them!    Looking forward to next time!

Monkalong IV – ARGH!

Alice!   How could you?!   I know you didn’t know, but how could you anyway!?!     Argggh!   Reading ended at a moment of tremendous suspense.   Not even suspense really – mid-action!   Which is Lewis’ fault or the publishers, but since last reading I read past and almost wrote about what happened in this part which I don’t want to spoil for anyone who might ever read this so, stop reading this now!


This was labelled as the Bleeding Nun, but I don’t think the illustrator read the book.

Anyway, The Monk turns out to be even more horrible than believed as in a fit of pique he kills Elvira.  Antonia, the dumb bunny, is, of course, doomed at this point.   Poor girl.  He feels bad for about a minute, but quickly returns to figuring out how to make her unhappiness complete.   Having destroyed his magical myrtle he now needs to rely on drugs.   What a wretched excuse for a human being.   It seems like Antonia might have a chance because her maid or whatever takes Elvira’s injunction against the Monk seriously, but he is too slippery for her and Antonia succumbs to the drug which makes you seem dead for two days, beloved of literature.    So, when is this Monk getting sucked down to hell, another scene beloved of literature?

Meanwhile, Don Raymond the useless is lying around in a stupor while his enterprising young servant invades the convent and tries to get word about Agnes.   He sings and charms all the nuns with his good looks.   His plan works and he gets word about Agnes’ fate.   Don Lorenzo rushing around to save Agnes does not realize The Monk is taking out his beloved and her mother.  There is a secretly decent nun in the convent who knows the fate of Agnes (or thinks she does) and in a spectacular bit of theater denounces the Prioress.  This works all too well and the crowd rips her limb from limb.   Okay, he doesn’t say that, he says they harrass her until she gets hit with a rock, but naturally, I don’t believe that for a minute.

So, Lorenzo sees an escaping nun go down into the cloister and follows her and finds all the nuns around a statue that must never be touched which is groaning.  Brave, brave Lorenzo goes down into the pit and rescues a poor nun and her deceased baby (Time in this novel is extremely vague.  It really didn’t seem like months had gone by.   The Ambrosio/Antonia timeline seems like a few weeks maybe, then meanwhile Agnes has had her baby though she was not visibly pregnant at the time and now they’re both near death or dead.   Agnes talks a heckuva lot for someone who hasn’t had water in two days.   Will she live?   Will Virginia the interesting and beautiful get Lorenzo?

As this rescue is taking place Lorenzo & Co. go back into the pit to make sure there aren’t any more when there is a Shriek!  and he goes charging off to save whoever.    We don’t know who or what because the reading ends here!   Alice!!

But actually it’s quite page turny these past couple of sections.  As I mentioned I didn’t stop at the end of part III because I was keen to know what happened next.   And that made me stop now to write it up so I wouldn’t spoil more than part 4 for anyone.   I still think this book is a hoot and if he’d written some more he might have gotten much better at the aspects of it which make it not quite work in some ways, like a sensible timeline.   But Lewis was good at characters and definitely wrote an entertaining read.   And I am grateful to Alice for picking this one.   I think all our reads should have ghost nuns in ’em.   Next week — the end!

Monkalong III – Catching Up

Now I’m only 4 days behind in my Monk reading!   Go, me!   Trying to remember what the heck happened even though it was probably the shortest section.  So I’ll read some of the others’ posts and comment on them.  You can find them here:


Good call on the smartphone.

Mostly agree on Elvira — a fine woman, a good parent and yet, Antonia is not ready for the things she’s already facing.  I’d say a little less tact might have been helpful.

I actually AM reading the poems in the sense that I make my eyes run across every line of text.  They don’t really make it into my brain.

Very odd Lewis’ attitude to superstition.  Sneering about it and then invoking ghosts and bleeding nuns.

The rewritten Bible.  Maybe not so long, edited it’s probably only 50 pages of

The length of the one curtain will be twenty-eight cubits, and the width will be four cubits for the one curtain; one measure will be for all the curtains. Five curtains will be joined to one another,[a] and five curtains joined to one another.[b] And you will make loops of blue on the edge of the one curtain, at the end in the set; and you will do so on the edge of the end curtain in the second set…

Chris – yes, that linnet bit was bizarre.   What other weird fantasies do you have, Mr. Lewis?  Nevermind.  I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough.

Poor Antonia – if she didn’t have bad luck, she’d have no luck at all.

And Ambrosio – gets worse with almost every sentence.   Glimmers of humanity snuffed out under the inundation of his desire for the Next Woman.   Think Ambrosio – you’ll get tired of her in a week, too.   Just leave the convent, dude.   And go far, far away.

Glynis – good call on shenanigans re:  Monk’s innocence when he’s heard all of Madrid’s confessions.   And I think some of those noble ladies would have found a way to proposition him, too.   Since they’re so randy cuz of the heat.

Matilda — is a horrible, horrible, person.   So’s Ambrosio, but he’s a weak follower type.   Matilda is clearly the leader and going to doom them all including herself to a terrible and probably short life.

RIP X Report

Readers Imbibing Peril is an event happening for the 10th time – reading scary/creepy/mysterious books for September and October.   This is the third time I’ve done it and I always love it.   I haven’t been posting on my reading, which I am sorry about and here hope to catch up.

First off, I read Wylder’s Hand by J. Sheridan Le Fanu because it fit the Forgotten Classic along with RIP.   Le Fanu is more famous for Carmilla and Uncle Silas these days, but Wylder’s Hand is a pretty good, gothicky read.   A few slow parts (It’s no Moonstone), but overall, I was entertained.   It’s kind of strange in that the narrator isn’t around for most of the story.   He visits Brandon Hall the home of the beautiful, but distant Dorcas.   He is sort of friends with Mark Wylder, Dorcas’ fiance and cousin, to whom this marriage will bring financial security and the union of two families which have had long, unfortunate, intertwined histories.   The choice of Cresseron, the lawyer, as narrator is probably a mistake, but not rectified in publication as a book, it just goes to third person when he’s not around, which is most of the time.   Dorcas doesn’t really want to marry Mark and Mark conveniently disappears abroad suddenly with the only sign of him occasional letters to his lawyer (not the narrator, an odious, conniving, holier-than-thou named Larkin.)

So then the question is: why did he go?  Or did he?   Perhaps he is dead, or prisoner or mad?   Who knows?   There is a mysterious ghost, or is there?   Nothing is certain because the book is chock full of selfish, plotting dastards.  Looking forward to more LeFanu.


Next was an Agatha Christie, The Pale Horse, which was different from her usual style.    A woman gives her dying confession to a priest who is then murdered on his way home, but not before he can make up a list of names which is found on his body.   Who are they?  Criminals?  Victims?  What do these people have in common and who killed the priest?  The trail apparently leads to a group of women who live in a former inn called The Pale Horse.   Rumor has it they will rid you of any pesky relatives or friends you don’t want around any more for a substantial fee.  No way to pin it on them or you…   but is it true?  It can’t be.   And yet… it seems to be happening.

Very entertaining Christie, probably her best of the period.  Clever, well-plotted, and still fair as far as I could tell.   I didn’t guess, but feel like I should have.

I am also working on The Monk, which should be done by the end of the month.   A wild, absurd, but entertaining 18th century gothic novel.   So far, you could skip all the poetry and not miss anything important.   It is a bit thousand and one nightsish in that it has stories within stories and some of them are pretty darned long and dull, but some of them are a hoot.   It is filled with innocent young women, vengeful older women, reprobate monks, ghosts, banditti, wicked nuns and perils both natural and supernatural.

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon October 2015

It’s time for the 24 20 1/2 Hour Readathon!  I set my alarm, and I might have zombily arisen, but reading?  I felt as though my eyes were made of grit.  I wish it had been last month, or maybe the month before.  Some point when I felt less busy.  I will do what I can, but 24 hours of reading isn’t going to happen.  Onward!

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

Maryland, USA
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Stack, ha!  I can’t get through a stack.  I’m doing the RIP Readalong book – The Quick.  If I finish that, we’ll see.
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

I bought some snap pea crunchy things I’ve never had before.  I ate half the cookies yesterday,

I bought some snap pea crunchy things I’ve never had before.  I ate half the cookies yesterday,
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I love readalongs and readathons and seeing the blogposts of readers all around the world.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

Unfortunately, what I’ll do is not participate as much.  Hopefully, next time won’t be so busy and I can read more

Oct 18

Well, it was a disaster of a readathon, but a good day, so I’m not going to worry about it.  Next time, I hope to be more into it.  I read 3 chapters of The Quick, which I foolishly had not looked up the length of – almost 600 pages!  I will continue reading it, but will not be done today, that’s for sure.  The beginning is much like the book I read last year, This House is Haunted, but better written.  I love the description of the club on the opening pages.

Which hour was most daunting for you?

Oh, most of them.   Couldn’t wake up.   Then had to go to a show and dinner.   Finally got in a little reading, but got too sleepy.
Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?

The Quick seems like a good read, but maybe too long.   Ocean at the End of the Lane was good.   Shirley Jackson is good.
Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?   Nope
What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

Really was not around enough to know — I always enjoy it.
How many books did you read?

10% of a book.

What were the names of the books you read?

The Quick by Lauren Owen

Which book did you enjoy most?

The Quick
Which did you enjoy least?

The Quick
If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?

I weren’t.  I can’t post on a lot of comment sections, so it doesn’t seem feasible.
How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

Oh, highly likely.   If life would just calm down a little.

Sorry not to have been a better participant and not to have finished my readalong book.   Must return to the Monk, and catch up on that.

Monkalong Part II – No I haven’t given up, I’m just slow

So now I’m 8 days behind.   I actually finished the reading Wednesday, so only six days behind, but failed to report.   Raymond is one of the most moronic characters I ever read.   Not only can he not tell his girlfriend from a 100 year old corpse, he’s always blithely optimistic despite all the things that go wrong.  Oh, I’lll just write to her aunt that hates my guts and tell all.   Stupid, stupid, stupid.   Sadly, Agnes doesn’t want a smart man and she gives way to her passion and now she’s going to have a child who might inherit his father’s brains.  Agnes think!   But then Agnes may not be too swift either.   She apparently bought the Bleeding Nun met me first, so I went off with her by mistake story.   Not that it wasn’t true, but who would believe it?   You stood me up because you were met by the Bleeding Nun and she sapped your life force and you kissed her how many times??   Surely, Raymond, after all this time you could have come up with a better story than that.  Ah, okay, you were saved by the Wandering Jew.   Naturally.   That makes it much more believable.


I like that flying critter to the left

The Bleeding Nun herself is fairly creepy.  Sadly, Raymond learns nothing from his ordeal.   And then we’re back to Lorenzo hitting on Antonia, though we know from the dream and the gypsy this is going to go badly.   I will try to read the next section with more dispatch.   The next two sections so that I catch up and can celebrate with all and read their posts instead of avoiding them for fear of spoilers.

I totally forgot all the kidnapping.   When in doubt, Raymond kidnaps someone.   He’s with his girlfriend, planning her escape, when they are caught by her governess or something.   I don’t know exactly what Dame Cunegonda’s role is, except comic relief as she gets plastered on cherry brandy while tied up in a closet.   Raymond, why didn’t you take your girlfriend and hide her secretly?  Much easier.   Idiot.