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.