#WitchWeek2020 Day 5: Gothic fantasy, with puppets

Invisible strings …

Lizzie Ross

Puppet shows! Fun times for all, right? Not in this chilling Newbery Honor book. In 2007, Laura Amy Schlitz had won the Newbery Award for Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village. This 2012 gothic fantasy by the same author takes place a few centuries later, in an England those medieval villagers could never have imagined.

And remember those towers that Chris mentioned four days ago in “Gothic Dreams”? Well, Schlitz gives her readers one that’s full of menace. Here’s her take on the Victorian gothic novel:

Splendors and Glooms, Laura Amy Schlitz (2012, Candlewick Press; published in UK and elsewhere as Fire Spell)

1860, London, autumn. For days, fog thick as pudding envelops the town. To cross a street is to gamble your life, since carriage drivers can’t see you before you’re a bump under their wheels. Mud, urine, manure, and offal ruin the shoes of…

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#WitchWeek2020 Day 4: M R James and the Gothic Tradition

The other Mr James …

Lizzie Ross

In this post, guest blogger Jean takes us to the world of M. R. James, famous for his creepy gothic tales, which have inspired several 20th and 21st century authors. Jean is a librarian blogging at Howling Frog Books who loves history, world literature, and anything involving textiles or embroidery.

M R James, 1900

Montague Rhodes James (1862 – 1936) spent his life as a scholar and medievalist, working at Cambridge and Eton, and he also wrote ghost stories on the side, for fun. He knew much of the Gothic tradition, and both drew upon it and departed from it, bringing new ideas to the scene; I think we can fairly call him a bridge from Gothic literature to the beginnings of modern horror. Being an antiquarian (enthusiastic does not begin to describe it), he enjoyed featuring ancient manuscripts, artifacts, or monsters, and his protagonists are often scholarly gentlemen…

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#WitchWeek2020 Day 3: The Graveyard Book

Rest in peace …

Lizzie Ross

2012 US paperback edition, cover by Dave McKean

“It takes a graveyard to raise a child.” 
(back cover of The Graveyard Book, US edition)

Appropriately for today, the Day of the Dead, we present you with a discussion of this year’s read-along book, a novel set in a cemetery. Four of us–Lory* from The Emerald City Book Review, Chris at Calmgrove, Jean at Howling Frog Books, and Lizzie–spent the last few weeks of summer discussing Neil Gaiman’s Newbery Award-winning novel, The Graveyard Book (2008). We addressed four questions of interest to us.

Many of you know this book, or have read it recently, and we hope that after reading our discussion you’ll add your own comments and questions, expanding this in new directions.

What did we think of the novel’s gothic nature?

A bloody knife promises danger.

Chris:The Gothick elements include the menace…

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#WitchWeek2020 Day 2: A Gothick Reading of The Betrothed

Head to Lizzie’s blog to read e-Tinkerbell‘s gothick reading of The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni.


Book Review: Fairy Con and Encounters: Modern Folktales from Sibu



By Golda Mowe

Publisher: Goose Books


Golda Mowe is one of my favourite Malaysian writers. She is Iban and her stories are rooted in Iban life, customs and folklore.

Mowe recently self-published two books — Encounters: Modern Folktales from Sibu, comprising ten stories; and a novella called Fairy Con.

55686386._SX318_I have to admit that the books’ covers made me think that they were both written for children. I wouldn’t say they shouldn’t be read by kids, but, fair warning, Fairy Con does feature a grisly murder and some very light sexual innuendo, so some may be leery about introducing it to primary school-age readers. As for, Encounters, the stories in this collection also contain some details that may be deemed unsuitable for children, but I don’t think there’s anything that voracious readers of ten and older can’t handle.

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