Monday, January 19, 2015

UPDATE: House of Hollow Wind, A Novella

I just wanted to update, briefly, on the work of my first gothic romance novella, titled House of Hollow Wind.

As you've noticed, I haven't updated a new installment in some time.

I have decided to devote my time to completing the novel privately, rather than posting each installment as I write it.

I'm continuing to work on the novella and also am proofing the first four chapters, for which I've posted here at the blog.

I will be keeping them up for the reading pleasure of anyone who wishes to read the beginning of the book.

However, once I have completed the book and it has been published, I will offer a link to the page where it can be purchased in full.

I still welcome your thoughts and reflections on my novella, if you so wish to email me.

Thanks, always, for reading!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Off My Shelf: The Wyndspelle Series

This is one of the only gothic vintage series I own, aside from the Dark Shadows books.  I'm happy I was able to find all three books on ebay at the same time.

I thought they were rather interesting, as the primary plot surrounds the suspicion of witchery.

The series was written by Aola Vandergriff, who wrote the Daughters series.

Wyndespelle, published in 1975.

"The first romance in a dark pageant of mystery from a house as haunted as Wuthering Heights."

Back Cover Synopsis:

Wyndspelle...sanctuary or house of Satan?

The rocks tore Adria's bare feet as she climbed the forbidding crag to Wyndspelle.  Only here would Adria find haven, safety from the Puritans ready to burn her as a witch.  She opened the great door to shelter and life, and looked upon death.

Wyndspelle's mistress lay upon a candlelit bier, cold and still.  Adria could remain here, if she consented to become the new wife of the blind man with the scarred face and soul, the master of Wyndspelle.

The Bell Tower of Wyndspelle, published in 1975

Back Cover Synopsis:

To whom must Caryn be true-

the king of England or the Master of Wyndspelle?  Was her first duty to the King and the British soldiers quartered in her home?  Or to her husband whose revolutionary band plotted against England?  Her husband had saved her life, had married her despite her loyalist sympathies. 

Could she betray him now?  Caryn must choose.  Upon her words hung many men's lives.

Wyndespelle's Child, published 1976

Back Cover Synopsis:

To the house of secret sorrows...

to Wyndspelle, from far-off Scotland, Megan came to care for a haunted, invalid child with no will to remember, to speak of to love.  Whisperers said that the little girl was possessed, that she had set the fire that killed her mother.  Others said it was her father who had done the deed.

Yet, in this desolate manor where no flowers bloom, Megan finds love blossoming in her heart for the two the world condemns- for the child and for the tormented master of Wyndspelle.

The series sounds to be quite historical, with a ring of horror.  The storyline reminds me of the Salem witch trials.  I'm looking forward to reading these!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

'The Tormented' by Dorothy Daniels

Published:  1969
Setting:  Historical

Slowly, by themselves, the lamps went out and the room was filled with flickering. ominous shadows. Even the air was hushed. It grew cold -- a clammy coldness that held me in a vise.

The room suddenly became alive with an icy wind. Each cold blast seemed to originate in the middle of the room and spread to the four walls. As the wind screamed I heard a shrill voice howl my name over and over again.

As if in answer a glass case lifted from a table and hurled itself toward the mantle and crashed.

I was petrified...

After the untimely deaths of her loving parents, Sharon is forced to sell The Pillars, her father's beautiful Louisiana estate, in order to settle her debts.  Yet a strange twist of fate brings her back to The Pillars, not as a mistress but as a
caregiver.  It's not long after her arrival that Sharon realizes that the Beaumonts want more from her than a tutor for their child...much more.  

The house is haunted by a restless, angry spirit that spins a chilling wind as it smashes furniture and assaults the members of the household.  What's more terrifying is the entity screams for Sharon in an agonizing screech.  The longer she extends her stay, the more Sharon feels her presence is resented by someone in the household.  Could it be Emily, the cold mistress of the house or her hateful spinster sister Sarah?  She is sure it is not Craig, who demonstrates a great affection for her in opposition of his careless wife, and his brother Bart seems to have a great affect for the girl as well.  

Then Sharon learns of the beautiful Janelle, the love of Bart's life whom was torn to shreds by a pack of wild dogs that still roam the grounds.  It is only after attempts were made on Sharon's own life that she decides she must learn the mystery of the ghost, and the the identity of the person who wishes her dead... 

Setting:  A southern Louisiana Mansion

Plot:  A young woman returns to her heritage as a tutor to a little girl only to find herself enmeshed in the mystery of a vicious haunting with an entity that calls her name in anguish and a tale of sudden death.

Gothic Elements:  southern mansion, Louisiana (bayou), ghosts and demons, hauntings, poisoned food, death occurring from a pack of wild dogs, graves and graveyards, a friendly but gossiping cook, a drunken gambler who weaves himself in and out of the story, a loveless child, a cold domineering wife, a bitter spinster

Romance:  Occurs between the main character and the head of the house, particularly in the last thirty pages of the book.  i have to admit I wasn't sure which man would catch her attention until nearly the end of the story.

I thought this was an excellent read.  It was more of a gothic horror than a gothic romance, as the romance really didn't bloom until the last thirty pages or so (though this seems typical of most vintage gothics).   This book had a bit more paranormal than most vintage titles, but made for a quick and interesting read.  I would recommend to fans of vintage gothic romance and to those who enjoy a good ghost story.

My Rating:
4.5 Stars

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Silver Scream: 'The House That Vanished' Movie Review

Released in 1972, The House That Vanished is a thrilling, rather erotic movie about a young model whom unwittingly accompanies her boyfriend to an isolated country manor he intends to loot.  However, in the foggy English countryside, beautiful Valerie Jennings witnesses a brutal murder!  She flees into the fog-shrouded backwoods and takes refuge in junkyard where she hides until morning.

The horror isn't behind her, though, because once she returns to her flat strange things begin to happen.  She hasn't seen her boyfriend since fleeing the old manor in the country...yet his car reappears outside her home, then disappears once more.  And all her attempts to find the isolate manor are's as if the house has disappeared!

Then she meets the enigmatic Paul, who collects masks, and sparks fly.  Coincidentally, a strange old man takes residency in the the flat below her apartment...a man who studies pigeons and seems to have a strange fascination with her.  After her friend is murdered, Paul is kind enough to offer her a weekend his parents' old country manor in the English hillside...where she reconnects with murder!

I really enjoyed this did have a great amount of mystery and a slow-paced suspense that kept me watching.  There were plenty of coffee, tea, and cigarettes!  And the incest between young, handsome Paul and his Aunt helped cast a twisted plot.  I have to admit that I was guessing until the end and did not really figure this one out until I saw the familiar surroundings of the manor during the 'weekend vacation' when Valerie returned unwittingly to the hands of the murderer.

The story line, plot, setting, and details are a vintage gothic romance novel well-played.  I believe that fans of vintage gothic will enjoy (and find themselves well-entertained) by this movie!


My Rating:
5 Stars

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Off My Shelf: 4 Titles by Dorothy Eden

Since I have quite a few titles by Dorothy Eden, I thought I'd share a few of those this week.

Listen to Danger was published in 1957:

Back Cover Synopsis:

In the shadows of the night, a veiled woman lurked in the garden, staring at the house, watching, waiting...

It all started with a mysterious telephone call that plunged Harriet Lacey into a suffocating atmosphere of terror.  With no one to help her, she was forced to turn to Flynn, the brilliant and bitter writer, whose past was already interwoven with hers in a tapestry of sudden death.

It was an odd assortment of people who lived in the narrow brick house.  Aloof, wary, they hugged their secrets to themselves.  But one of them was a prowler in the dark, bent on destroying Harriet and everything she held dear...

The Laughing Ghost was published in 1968:

Back Cover Synopsis:

Old Lynnford Carstairs knew his time was running out; knew he had to provide for his headstrong niece, Felicity; knew that only the fear of losing the Carstairs manor house would bring her to her senses.  And so he tracked down Lynn Carstairs, son of a distant branch of the family, and left everything to him and Felicity- with the provision that they marry within the year.

Lynn's arrival at the Carstairs couldn't have been more poorly timed for Kiffin Pope, master criminal, for the tortuous tunnels under the house were being used to smuggle a priceless stolen necklace out of England.

That Felicity and Lynn should stumble on the operation was inevitable; but it also seemed inevitable; but it also seemed inevitable that they, like the ancient ancestress who was said to haunt the estate, would perish slowly and painfully in the Stygian blackness of the underground caverns...

I honestly wasn't sold too well on this one until I got toward the end of that description....who can resist a set of haunted, eerie caverns??

Crow Hollow was published in 1967:

Back Cover Synopsis:

An eerie old house named for the harsh voiced birds bound up with its past...

The aunts, three old ladies just this side of insanity...

The servant girl, treated with more deference than the new wife of the master...

This is what Rodney brought his bride home to.  With growing fear Lois realized that she knew little of Rodney's past- who was Willow, she wondered, the family maid- beautiful, demanding, familiar, no more a maid than Lois herself?

Rodney's three Aunts were kind, but Lois sensed their hostility, their resentment- their menace?- for someone at Crow Hollow was determined to get rid of her, dead or alive.

And Rodney, her own husband, could not- or would not?- believe that his wife was in danger...

The Pretty Ones was published in 1957 (Mine says 'First American Edition' in the lower right-hand corner, though I'm unsure if this means I have an original first in print American edition or what):

Back Cover Synopsis:

Shadows behind shadows; wheels within wheels.  This was Courtlands, Emma's new home...

It seemed that nothing could upset the joys of marriage for beautiful Emma Court, even though she knew little about the past of the man she had met and married in a matter of weeks.

Then she began to hear unpleasant rumors- that Barnaby's first wife disappeared under sinister circumstances; that no one actually knew what happened to the two pretty governesses who ran away without cause or explanation.

Emma trusted Barnaby enough not to ask questions, but when a pathetic, lonely grave turned up in the field behind Courtlands, her loyalty to her brooding, secretive husband gave way to hard, cold fear...

Looks as if there's plenty of haunted brides and doomed heiresses in this batch of reading!

Dorothy Eden is a story teller of rare distinction who 'should easily satisfy the same readers who made a best-seller out of Victoria Holt.'  -New York Times

"Miss Eden's particular talent is to blend the horrid and the cosy."  -London Times

Friday, January 2, 2015

Ode to Vintage Gothic Romance Novels (A Poem)

The girls on the covers
are always running,
feet sometimes bare,
bodies barely covered
and young as summer's first fruit,
lips the color of raspberries
hanging on pale faces,
hands flailing, swimming an atmosphere
where the sky drops moon shadows.
The cliffs are steep,
rising in the background
they are enormous as faces
of giants in war with midnight,
each jagged rock a foothold
to catch a damsel or drop her
to a spinning death of ocean beams
and the shark's quick bite,
a sickening swirl where
the sky eats the sea, and the sea
steals a girl still fresh
of the late sixties,
of Jimmy Hendrix and night club drums,
of flowered shirts and red mini skirts.
Girls who've never fully touched boys,
not even in all those cornered rooms
in dark, sprawling castles.
Castles in Cambodia and the Caribbean,
some isolated stretch of dunes
near a star-studded Atlantic
or a ram shackled old house in Haiti
where each hinge squeak shuts in
yet another secret
for all the lonely ghosts to whisper.

(Poem Written by Stacy Lynn Mar, Vintage artwork derived from a Google Search)