Saturday, January 9, 2016

"Pictures of Fear" by Lucy Fuchs

Published:  1981
Setting:  Modern Day

She left me then and I walked through the house toward where I thought the living room must be.

It looked as if it were never used, never entered.

But what really caught my eye were the large pictures on the walls.  These were Elizabeth's own paintings.

Every one of them was of a house.  In the dim light of the low-wattage lamp, I walked around looking at one picture after another.  They were all of the same house, I realized after a while, all this house.

The pictures showed the house as evil, menacing.  More than anything else, they reminded me of old fairy-tale illustrations I had seen of stories about scary castles and frightening ghosts and ogres.  Stories of witches and goblins and evil monsters.  Here, the house seemed to be the villian.  The windows were like so many eyes, staring and disproving.  The doors in some pictures looked like prison doors, forever locking in what was there.  In other pictures they were open, threatening to draw and entice the watcher inside to some kind of unmentionable horror.

Back Cover Synopsis:

Naomi Thompson was not the least bit frightened on her way to Wetherington House.  Because she had no one to share her college Christmas vacation, she felt lonely and sad and perhaps resentful.  But not frightened.  In fact, she was relieved to have a two-week job at Wetherington House, typing some poetry for Elizabeth Amberly, a talented, eccentric painter and writer.

Things started to change for Naomi when Elizabeth told her, "This is the house of evil.  It can change anything to hate."  Then the girl saw Elizabeth's frightening paintings of the place and learned its scary history.  Yet it was not until after she met Elizabeth's strong-willed mother-in-law and handsome nephew that Naomi's deepest fears took root.

I found this story to be a bit juvenile.  The whole theme revolved around a reclusive painter who believes the house she inhabits is evil.  Several people have died, or have received crippling injuries while visiting the house.  Elizabeth, the recluse, has been accused (but never charged) with the crimes.  Yet, during her stay as typist for the eccentric woman, Naomi gets a fresh glimpse at the evil mother of Elizabeth and her more-than-handsome son who come to spend Christmas holiday at the family home.  Soon after, things take a terrifying twist.  Several attempts are made on Naomi's life.  Elizabeth's husband is killed in a one-car collision because his brakes were tampered with.  Someone is attempting more murders....but everyone knows a house can't really kill anyone, can it?

It was a fun, quick read.  Not much in the literary department.  I figured out who the villain was long before the story ended.

Best Gothic Elements:  family secrets, murder, an evil house, a crazy eccentric artist, lonely girl goes to work at secluded mansion during holiday, attempts made on heroines life, murder by tampering with one's vehicle, jealousy, family feuds and rivalries

My Rating:
3 Stars

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