My Writer’s Book Bag

It’s hard to believe it’s the middle of May already. Spring has been desperately trying to spring here in the Northeast. Here’s hoping our recent bought of warm and sunny weather is going to stick this time! April proved to bring us a plethora of rain. May has certainly blessed us with flowers. One of my four lilac bushes is literally drooping to the ground under the weight of its own flowers. The small murder of crows I’ve been trying to lure in with peanuts and cat kibble are slowly making a comeback by perching in the trees outback and cawing at me. Our back yard is mostly set up and ready to go for a summer’s worth of friends, family, evening fires, fair weather, and food. In between all of that, along with writing and submitting a couple novels and a bit of dark poetry to some publishers – one of which has already been accepted – I’ve managed to get in some reading time.

In last month’s Book Bag, I’d just started Ann Radcliffe: The Great Enchantress by Robert Miles. I’m happy to report, I’ve emerged victorious from this adventure into some serious literary analysis, yes, Sigmund Freud even showed up! It reminded me way too much of all those English classes where the instructor insists that the color of the chairs is symbolic of the four Cardinal directions as specified in some mystic’s dream book from the early 15th century. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. I don’t use a lot of symbolism when I write and the one time I tried to be clever that way, I got so bogged down in trying to remember what represented what that I completely lost track of where I wanted to go with the plot. I tend to believe the chair was blue, red, yellow, or green because the writer liked that particular color and thought it would be nice, but maybe that’s just me. That aside, I learned the difference between ‘horror’ and ‘terror’ as it was defined back in the late 1700s and that Romances weren’t considered Novels. An interesting and educational read despite the academic dryness.

While slogging my way through that, I managed to get in some good old short stories from Israel Finn’s collection, Dreaming At The Top Of My Lungs. I’ve been eyeballing this book for a good long while and finally decided it was time to give it a read. As with any collection or anthology, you’re going to find some you really enjoy, some that leave you confused, or some that just don’t hit the spot. Happily, most of Finn’s stories were very enjoyable and better still, memorable! My biggest complaint on this one is that it was way, way too short! I’m hoping to add more of Israel’s work to the TBR pile in the future.

I recently dove back into the dark and murky depths of another Hunter Shea cryptid book. This time it’s poor old Nessie that he’s picking on. Hot on Shea’s aquatic tail (see what I did there?) is a Lyle Blackburn book that takes us beyond the realm of Boggy Creek to look at other cryptids of the ‘Squatchier kind found deep in the American South, but we’ll save any further details on those for next month.

2017 Bookshelf-To-Date

January
Montauk Monster by Hunter Shea

February
Maledicus by Charles F. French

March
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe,
The Beast of Boggy Creek by Lyle Blackburn

April
Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
Sinister Entity by Hunter Shea

May
Ann Radcliffe: The Great Enchantress by Robert Miles
Dreaming At The Top Of My Lungs by Israel Finn
Loch Ness Revenge by Hunter Shea

Author Interview – Hunter Shea

Welcome to the fifth installment of my monthly Author Interviews! Over the past year, the works of Hunter Shea have pretty much dominated my reading list. It all began by answering a simple call to be part of a Blog Tour in which I’d receive a book, read it, and review it within a given time frame. I was sent Island of the Forbidden, a lovely romp on an isolated island with murderous ghosts! About two days ago, I started one of his cryptid tales, Loch Ness Revenge.  I’m never disappointed when it comes to a Hunter Shea novel. We’ve chatted and emailed on and off, me usually seeking advice, and he graciously giving it. So you can imagine my delight when he quickly accepted my request for an interview!

And so, without further delay … Here’s Hunter!

1. Every writer has a story on how it all began for them. When did you first begin to realize you had a knack for story telling? Was there someone that influenced\encouraged you down the path to being a writer?

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Horror Author – Hunter Shea

I’ve always been a huge reader and fan of horror. At one time, I dreamt of being a horror director, back when Jason was terrorizing the silver screen. I wrote awful stories and worse poems and songs, then college came along and I discovered free kegs and ten cent wings and my creativity was funneled into creating party themes. It wasn’t until I got my first horrible, soul-deadening corporate job that I got the itch to write. My good friend Norm Hendricks was writing a horror novel in the cubicle next to me and I got curious. Norm is the one who got me sucked into this, and I thank him all the time. It became an addiction, and I have no desire to kick the habit. Of course, it took me years before I wrote anything worth a damn, but that’s part of the journey.

2. As kids we’re always being asked what we want to be when we grow up. Beyond writing, what other careers did you have in mind for yourself?

From about 9 until 14, if people asked me what I was going to be, I would tell them a Playboy photographer (much to my mother’s chagrin – I think dad was proud). Then I wanted to pitch in the major leagues for a while, until college where I studied to be on the radio, either as a DJ or engineer. I’d secretly always wanted to do that ever since WKRP in Cincinnati came on the air. Once I realized how little the job paid, I gave that up. Funny how everything in radio has changed. Everything I learned back then is now obsolete. I was a master at splicing tape.

3. Really looking forward to reading your latest release We Are Always Watching.  While writing it, you mentioned to me that some of it’s based on real events.  Can you give more details on that?

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Hunter’s Latest Release

Sure. The whole idea was inspired by what’s still happening to this house in New Jersey. A couple bought a million dollar home in a sweet little suburb, only to find out someone who calls themselves The Watcher claims the house and all who inhabit it are his. The Watcher leaves cryptic, terrifying notes all around the house. The family picked up and ran for the hills. They’ve been trying to have the house razed but have been turned down by the town zoning board. They rented it out to someone else, who recently started getting even more sinister notes from The Watcher. Crazy stuff. And it’s scary, because it’s really happening.

4. You and Jack Campisi have a podcast called Monster Men over on YouTube. How did you two meet and what made you decide to create the show together?

We worked together at a technology company. When we found out we both owned and loved the Spider-Man rock opera album as kids, we were bonded for life. We loooove horror, and talked about it all the time. Once podcasting became a thing, we decided to just go for it and let the world watch 2 horror fans, who’ve had a few drinks, talk about the genre. We’re 120 episodes in and counting, which isn’t easy considering it’s a video podcast.

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Hunter & Jack – The Monster Men

5. They say authors often put themselves into at least one of their characters in every book. Is this something you’ve experienced? If so, which of your characters do you feel most resembles yourself?

Oh, hell yeah. Bits of us are scattered like ashes across the pages of each and every single book. John Backman in Forest of Shadows was all me, complete with crippling anxiety (which I beat, unlike poor John). There’s a lot of me and one of my daughters in West Ridley in We Are Always Watching. Strangely enough, I’d go so far as to say you’ll find pieces of me in Jessica Backman in Sinister Entity and Island of the Forbidden. It’s impossible not to take from yourself and imbue it within your characters. It also helps give true notes of authenticity to the work. Readers know when you’re totally faking it and when you speak from experience.

6. What’s next for Hunter Shea? Can we look forward to more cryptid-based tales or are you going to go in a different direction for a while?

Oh, so much. This summer, my series of novelettes will come out through Lyrical Press. They’re based on the crap you could buy in comic books in the 70s and 80s. They’re called Just Add Water, Optical Delusion and Money Back Guarantee, and they’re pure campy fun. Megalodon in Paradise will be released through Severed Press this summer. Sure to be a pleasing beach read. I have a few other special releases up my sleeve. Folks need to stay tuned and see what’s in store. Hope you all hop on over to www.huntershea.com and join my Dark Hunter Newsletter to get the inside scoop. Oh, and I give lots of free stuff away to subscribers, too. 😉

Thanks so much, Hunter for taking the time to sit down and answer a few questions! It was great learning just a bit more about the man behind the monster madness!

Next month I’ll be grilling author Jason J. Nugent – low and slow with just a touch of lemon pepper!

Until then … Write On!

 

 

Movie Review – 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

Rated R – Psychological Thriller starring John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and John Gallagher Jr. – Directed by Dan Trachtenberg

If you haven’t seen Cloverfield, go and do that first. Although you don’t NEED to have seen it to enjoy this sequel, it will help give you a better overall feeling for what’s going on.

After an argument with her boyfriend, Michelle (Winstead) packs up and leaves town. While on the road, her car is struck and crashes in a roadside ditch. On waking, she finds herself hooked to an IV, wearing a knee brace, and chained to the wall. She soon meets her captor, Howard (Goodman) who is just another crazy, conspiracy-theorist prepper who’s gone to the trouble of building a fallout shelter in his back yard, which is where they now are. A third member of the group, Emmet (Gallagher), confirms what Howard is saying, that something, and he’s not exactly sure what, has happened, but something that has resulted in the surface being uninhabitable for at least two year.

Howard is full of crazy talk, but just how crazy is he? If he’s not crazy, then some very, very bad things are going on topside. If he is crazy then some very, very bad things are going on underground because Howard isn’t being completely honest about elements of his story and explanations. Either way, it’s all good for us viewers. 10 Cloverfield Lane is full of suspense and it’s going to keep you guessing until the bitter end at just exactly where Howard stands on the Sane to Insane scale.

This is my kind of movie, the psychological thriller, and it lives up to that genre exceptionally well in my opinion. I love how it incorporates elements of the original Cloverfield, yet it still holds up well as a standalone story. The acting was well done and I was very impressed with Goodman’s portrayal of a nut job!

Five out of Five Ravens!

Book Review – Sinister Entity by Hunter Shea

Even at the tender age of eighteen, paranormal investigator Jessica Backman has seen and experienced more than her fair share of things that go bump in the night. She’s always worked alone, until a series of emails arrives from Eddie Homes, a total stranger. Who is this clown and how has he learned so much about her? Jessica has always been very careful about keeping her privacy, but Eddie knows things he absolutely should not know. When Eddie tells Jessica that her dad sent him, she takes notice. Jessica’s father died horrifically when she was only six, and boy does Dad have a job for her and Eddie to do!

Sinister Entity is the prequel to the first Hunter Shea book I ever read, Island of the Forbidden. After reading this I’m just itching to get the first book of the series, Forest of Shadows.

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Whether he’s dealing with skunk apes that have run amok, zombies, the Jersey Devil, or a topic that seems so cliché and old school, like a haunted house, Hunter has an amazing talent of making it new again, adding his own twists, and drawing you into the characters and settings of each of his books. He could probably make a tin of Altoids frightening and thought-provoking. Sinister Entity is no exception.

I will say I did have a bit harder time getting invested in this one as I have his other books. Not sure why. It moved along quickly enough and the action was good, I just found my mind wandering off. That’s something I’ve never had happen before with a Shea novel. Maybe there was a bit more back story being explained than in others? Whatever it was, once I got through it, I was completely hooked and really had to know how Jessica and Eddie were going to tackle this particularly nasty and sinister entity.

4 out of 5 Ravens.

My Writer’s Book Bag

Blathering on about my own writing may get a bit monotonous for folks at times. For a change of pace, I’m going to blather on about what I’m reading instead.

I’d never given a lot of thought to keeping track of what I’m reading until joining Goodreads.  Now, I seem rather obsessed with not only keeping track of the titles, but where I am in the book by updating my progress on a nearly daily basis and meeting an annual goal of so many books read. I set my goal at twelve for 2017. One book a month seems pretty reasonable.

What other authors, especially horror writers, read interests me, too.  If they liked it, maybe I’d like it as well. Other than two books about Ann Radcliffe and a third bought on a whim, the bulk of my TBR pile is based purely on what my writer friends have recommended in their blogs or Tweets. On the downside of that, I don’t read eBooks so I fear I’m missing out on a lot of great stories out there. Sorry about that all you people who only have work in an eBook form. It’s just too difficult a format for me to focus on and enjoy beyond the occasional short story.

For the latter part of 2015 and into the summer of 2016, I nearly choked to death on Stephen King in an attempt to get somewhat caught up on his work. I fear I shall never get caught up as I spent far too many years away. However, I now have the entire Dark Tower series under my belt along with Doctor Sleep, which is the sequel to The Shining.

It took me six months to make my way through The Mysteries of Udolpho that began the whole Ann Radcliffe tangent. Last weekend I started Ann Radcliffe: The Great Enchantress I can already tell it’s going to be a tough, very academic, read. I’d much rather be reading other things, but as someone interested in genealogy, I believe learning about where and from whom we have sprung is important. As Radcliffe is considered to be one of, if not THE, mother of Gothic Horror\Romance, I consider her an ancestor in the Horror writer sense of the word. Who knows, maybe I’ll become obsessed with writing a more traditional gothic horror and/or romance one of these days!

Currently, I’m plowing my way slowly but surely through Hunter Shea’s collection of cryptid mayhem and paranormal horrors. I just finished Sinister Entity a couple nights ago. It’s one of his older books, from 2013. The first Shea novel I read was Island of the Forbidden. I’ve been Hooked-On-Hunter ever since. Not only is he a great writer, but from our various online chats and email exchanges, I know for a fact he’s an all-around awesome guy and a bit of a mentor, too. I hope he doesn’t mind my saying that.

So, there you have it, what I’m reading here in the middle of April. I’d like to believe I have the discipline to make this a monthly feature, but pft. Who am I kidding?

Until next time, kiddies – READ ON!

Year To Date:

January 

Montauk Monster by Hunter Shea

February 

Maledicus by Charles F. French

March    

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe,

The Beast of Boggy Creek by Lyle Blackburn

April

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

Sinister Entity by Hunter Shea

 

Featured Image: A Good Book by Paul Gustav Fisher

Author Interview – Isaac Thorne

For the month of April, I’m pleased to bring you an interview with ‘Dark Comic Horror” author Isaac Thorne.

As part of my New Year’s Resolution to reach out to more of my fellow authors and stop being such a hermit, I will be presenting you with a monthly author interview. The majority are of the horror genre, but I’ll slip in at least one YA and one Sci-Fi author just to mix it up a little bit.

I found Isaac’s work through the wonderful world of Twitter and now it’s time to share all that with you! Take it away, Isaac!

  1. Tell me a little bit about how you became interested in writing. Have you known since an early age or is this something new you’ve recently started to get involved in?

I’ve known since I could read that I wanted to write. The very first thing I ever remember writing of any depth was an essay about overalls and why everyone should wear them. I think I was just a 6-year-old at the time. I went to a small rural elementary school where “Overall Day” was once a thing. Naturally, I didn’t write often or well in those days, but it was the spark that I attribute to this flame.

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Author, Isaac Thorne

  1. You define your work as ‘dark comic horror’. Could you explain more about what that means and maybe what inspired you to go in that direction with your writing?

I came up with the tagline of “Short Tales of Dark Comic Horror” because I thought it was the best way to describe what I do in the shortest amount of space. First thing’s first: I primarily write short tales. I like novels. I read novels. But I love short stories, especially horror shorts. Stephen King once described novels as a long love affair and short stories more like a kiss in the dark from a stranger. I think that’s what I like about them. There’s more exposition that the reader will fill in with his or her imagination in a well-told short tale than a novel.

The last three words of my tagline are “Dark Comic Horror” because I always try to mix an element of comedy into my work. Let’s face it, Freddy Krueger probably wouldn’t have had sequel after sequel after sequel if he hadn’t become such a master of one-liners. Scary is great. Horrific is even better. But if you don’t bring some comedy into your tale, you’re missing out on one of the easiest ways for your story to connect with other people. The dark comedy is also my way of letting the reader know that I’m in on the absurdity of some of what I write. I’m not typically writing some kind of inside political rant or trying to convey a message with my stories. I just want to make you laugh a little, shudder some, glance over your shoulder a bit, and scream. Hopefully.

The horror element of what I do is my favorite part, though. It’s the genre I fell in love with a long, long time ago while I was listening to my grandmother’s old Alfred Hitchcock “Ghost Stories For Young People” album.

  1. Congratulations on the iHorror Award nomination for “Diggum”. Tell me a bit about it and the process of taking it from the original short story to a screenplay? Your book trailers are great, too. Are you an aspiring film maker as well?

Thank you! I found out just recently that not only is “Diggum” the screenplay an iHorror nominee, but that it also won the honor of the 2017 BEST VIOLENCE award from Chemical Film Festival. I’m happy about that. It’s nice to have your blood, sweat, and tears recognized on occasion.

As you mentioned, “Diggum” was originally a short story that I released in ebook and audio book form back in October of last year. It’s about a cemetery caretaker who feels that his innocent wife and son were at the end of a raw deal with God after their corpses were burned up in an accidental fire. According to Diggum’s religion, their bodies can’t be resurrected for Judgment, and they are therefore lost forever. Diggum doesn’t think that’s fair, so he sets about a plan to get even with God for the slight. I wrote the story and then recorded an audio book version of it myself.

The reception to the audio book was surprisingly strong, so I started then to wonder whether I might be able to translate it into a screenplay. Specifically, I was thinking about what I call a “semi-animated” short. The way I envisioned it was a series of line drawings in the Robert Kirkman “Walking Dead” style. Those stills would have frames of minor movement in them to illustrate what was happening, but the story would mostly be in Diggum’s telling of it.

As tried to set that down, I discovered that what I was really doing was painting a slightly different visual perspective on the story. It’s hard to describe, but adapting a narrative work into a screenplay is, to me, more like painting than writing. Sure, you use active verbs and descriptive powers in a narrative, but when you’re describing a scene in a screenplay, you tend to get more specific about it. The actions and visuals in the screenplay tell as much of the story as Diggum’s narration. The visuals in my head while I was writing the screenplay were entirely different than the sketches in my head while I was writing the narrative.

As much fun as I had adapting “Diggum” and as much fun as it is to use iMovie to make my book trailers, I don’t really have any aspirations to become a filmmaker. I’ll leave that to people who know more about what they’re doing. As a matter of fact, three of my stories have already been adapted into screenplays by My Little Rascal Film Productions. They hope to begin production on those shorts this year. I think the one screenplay and the trailers are enough for me now. The trailers are relatively easy to make because I use iMovie, clips, and music that is either licensed creative commons for commercial use or in the public domain. My role with iMovie then is stitching all that together and coming up with the text.

  1. I recently listened to ‘Because Reasons’ over on Carmen Online Theater Group’s Chronicles of Terror. Very cool! Can we look forward to more of your stories being presented there?

That’s always a possibility. An abridged version of the “Diggum” audio book was actually presented at Carmen Online as well. Liane Moonraven is probably the reason I even attempted to adapt Diggum into a screenplay in the first place. She introduced me to scriptwriting for audio theater. The platform we used for “Because Reasons” also allows you to write screenplays and teleplays, so I just took what she taught me and ran with it as best I could.

  1. The question never seems to be ‘Are you writing?’ Writers are always writing something, or should be, I’m told. What can we expect from you in the future? Any plans for a full-length novel?

Although I don’t do outlines when I’m writing short tales, I actually do have an outline created for a full-length novel. Novels aren’t really where my interests lie, though, so I’m sitting on it for a bit. If I’m going to write a novel, I want it to be the best novel I can possibly write at this point in my life. Therefore, I’m probably not going to go headlong into it until my heart and head tell me they need to do so.

All of my short tales are stories that I felt like I needed to write. There was no waiting for inspiration or ideas; no making an effort to make something up. I just had the idea for a scene and set about trying to craft a story around that scene. I find that allowing myself to be ready to sit down and write a story works better for me than trying to force myself to do it.

  1. Where can readers find out more about you and where can your work be found?
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Latest Release : Decision Paralysis

I’ve just released a new short tale of dark horror titled “Decision Paralysis”, which is available from most ebook retailers and as an audio book. In the fall of 2017, I’ll be releasing a collection of short tales in ebook and paperback formats. The collection will include most of the stories I’ve already released plus a few that  no one has ever seen before.

Readers can find me on Twitter and Facebook under the handle @isaacrthorne. Those and my other social media links are also available from my web site: www.isaacthorne.com. My ebooks can be found for Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Apple iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, and Smashwords. Audio versions of most of them are also available at Amazon, iTunes, and Audible.com.

 

Thanks so much for the interview, Isaac! I’m looking forward to reading more of your work.

 

Into The Mansion

Somewhere, once upon a time, I learned an interesting theory about dreams. That theory stated that certain rooms represented certain aspects of the dreamer’s psyche. If you dream of a bedroom, for instance, that’s believed to have something to do with sexuality and intimacy. If you dream of a kitchen, that’s your domestic side, a living room was considered your social, public self … and so on. That, in part is what Into The Mansion is about.

Not long ago in Facebook Land, I shared that I was working on something somewhat different than my usual Horror novel fare. Oh, it’s still about a big, creepy, old house, but instead of prose – it’s poetry. It’s not a new poem. It was written in 1995, though parts of it existed long before that in the world of my dreams.

Instead of just posting it here and forcing you all to read, I’ve created a 7-minute video of the poem that I narrate. It took more times than I care to mention to get a recording I was happy with and though it’s still not perfection – it will do.

And so, without further delay – I extend a hand and say, “Come with me …

INTO THE MANSION

 

“Secrets of the Scarecrow Moon” – Kindle eBook Giveaway!

Beyond the confines of Barnesville, NY almost no one has ever heard of the Scarecrow Moon. And even among its less than 2000 residence, only a dozen or so truly understand the origins of this sacred time of year. A cross-breeding of the Native American tradition of naming each month’s full moon after seasonal events, old-fashioned New England witchcraft, and the small town’s deepest, darkest secret, the Scarecrow Moon is the full moon that falls in the month of April. In honor of it, the people of Barnesville build competition scarecrows, hold a funeral procession-like parade down Main Street, and conduct nothing less than a full-blown Pagan ritual in the center of town complete with a bonfire turned funeral pier on the weekend nearest to Beltaine, or May Day, as it is more commonly known.

But why? By all appearance Barnesville is your typical, American small town. There are no outward signs that this is a place rampant with witches practicing their craft. In fact, there are two prominent churches in town, both very active and well-attended.

And yet, every year come April, something shifts. That shift takes a considerably dark path one year when the body of an old man was found in the local cemetery. His death was ruled an accident by authorities, but very soon those that understand the secret of the Scarecrow Moon begin to see things in a way that hasn’t been spoken of publicly in almost two-hundred years.

To honor this year’s Scarecrow Moon, which will be on April 11, I have put five Kindle versions of “Secrets of the Scarecrow Moon” up for grabs over on Amazon.  Contest end April 12, 2017.

Interested? Follow the link to learn more about rules and requirements for entry.

Do the clicky-clicky here —> KINDLE GIVEAWAY – SECRETS OF THE SCARECROW MOON

 

Good luck!

 

Book Review – The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe

As a female horror author, I decided last fall it was high time I read what is considered to be one of the first Gothic novels written by a woman, “The Mysteries of Udolpho” by Ann Radcliffe.

My first encounter with Gothic literature came at around the age of twelve. I’ve always been big into vampires, and as luck would have it, my best friend’s brother had a copy of Bram Stoker’s Dracula that he was willing to let me have it. 19th Century novels are hard enough for most adults, but I was a determined reader and pushed my way through. I went on to read it at least ten more times over the years, each time understanding a little bit more.

From Stoker, I moved on to Poe, Dickens, and Hawthorne all on a voluntary basis, plus whatever reading of that period that was required of us for English classes such as Mark Twain. After high school, I discovered the likes of Willkie Collins, Emily Bronte, and Oscar Wilde. As a Civil War reenactor for nearly ten years, I wanted to learn more about the period based on the diaries which led me to the likes of Sarah Morgan, Rose Greenhow, and Mary Chestnut.

All this being the long-winded way of saying I am familiar with the ins and outs of 18th-19th century writing. Speaking of long-winded, let’s talk about the novel in question.

The Mysteries of Udolpho, published in 1794, takes us on what is now considered a typical Gothic adventure. A life of peace and happiness is shattered when young Emily is left a poor orphan and placed in the cruel hands of her nearest relative. In this case, an aunt. During Emily’s happier days she meets and falls in love with a handsome cavalier named Valencourt. But, alas, this love struck couple will not find it so easy to be married and live happily ever after. First, Emily must be torn from her native land of France to reside in Italy with her heartless aunt and uncle who want to marry her off to a wealthy friend who’s old enough to be Emily’s father. But, Emily’s heart has sworn allegiance to Valencourt and she’ll have no business with her elderly suitor. Next, she is removed to the isolated fortress of Castle Udolpho where, after the death of her aunt, it seems as if Emily is destined to suffer the same fate at the hands of her greedy uncle.

Getting to this point, unfortunately, took half the book and with a total of over 600 pages, that’s a long and somewhat tedious amount of reading. And yet, much like slogging my way through Dracula as a twelve-year-old, I persisted and emerged victorious. But, did Emily? Will she ever escape her treacherous uncle and the prison Castle Udolpho has become? Who is the mysterious male figure she keeps seeing at night moving about on the battlements? What of the female ghost-like apparition being reported by the servants and seen by Emily herself? Will she and Valencourt ever set eyes on each other again? I’m not telling!

Dark, brooding, and suspenseful, it’s easy to see how The Mysteries of Udolpho set the stage for so many other Gothic novels that would follow and why it was so popular with the ladies of its hay day. A tough read at times, but well worth the effort and satisfaction I got when I was finally able to close the covers knowing at long last, the eluded to mysteries of Udolpho.

Due to it taking half the novel to get to the good stuff, I’m giving it –

3 out of 5 Ravens