30 October 2009

R.I.P. IV Challenge Wrap-Up


Reader imbibing peril indeed! In the last two months I have (vicariously) been trapped in haunted castles in mediaeval Europe, learned of a friend’s horrifying transformations, gone on a body-snatching expedition, discovered dark family secrets in the mountains of Spain, been pursued across England by a malevolent supernatural force, and made a deal with ... well, I’m not quite sure with what. Something not entirely human, certainly. I’m a little envious of my northern hemisphere co-participants - such tales demand dark autumn evenings and chill winds whistling round the corners of the house. But reading them surrounded by warmth and sunshine is still a lot of fun. (And now some of my northern hemisphere readers are doubtless a little envious of me!)

To complete Peril the First, I read four books:

The Mist in the Mirror - Susan Hill (C+)
The Mysteries of Udolpho - Ann Radcliffe (B-)
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and other tales of terror - Robert Louis Stevenson (B-)
The Angel's Game - Carlos Ruiz Zafon (A-)
After a trip to the library at the start of the month I decided to substitute The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl for one of the above, but it was a DNF for me - it was printed in a too-thin typeface that I just couldn’t read. The other books I started were much better choices, even if The Mist in the Mirror frustrated with too few chills and too many loose ends, and Udolpho with more excess verbiage than Henry James (and isn’t that saying a lot?).

At long last I got to meet Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and make my acquaintance with the story behind the saying. Its fame has proved its undoing, taking away the shock of discovery. No such worry with The Angel's Game; for once I actually managed to lay hands on the latest bestseller in reasonably quick time and only had to avoid a handful of reviews on other blogs to keep all the surprises intact.

Looking back over this year’s selection, it’s struck me that all are set in western Europe and all are historical, mostly nineteenth and early twentieth century. Next year I’ll aim for a greater variety of time and setting, but as my justification for adding another challenge to the pile this year was NaNo inspiration the choices were appropriate. Now that I’ve finished reading about historical supernatural horrors, I get to go and inflict some on my heroine!

Carl, you’re a legend for devising this challenge!

1 comment:

gautami tripathy said...

Those are some great books!

RIP IV Wrap-up

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Header image shows detail of A Young Girl Reading by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, c. 1776