Sunday, December 9, 2007

Master of Shadows - Channeling Victoria Holt

Today, one doesn't hear much about Gothic fiction. If they do, they immediately think vampires. Well, back in the 80s, Gothic fiction meant Victoria Holt to me. Exciting suspense novels with nary a sex scene in any of its pages. Mysterious, dangerous heroes and plots that seem thick with magic, yet ending up having entirely rational explanations.

MASTER OF SHADOWS is shaping up to be a Gothic novel in the grand tradition of Victoria Holt. An intriguing man, shrouded (literally!) in mystery. A suspicious other man, who seems to have nefarious reasons for his interest in the heroine, Ariel. A missing father. A strange set of servants for the master of the house. And best of all, a secret passage. Oh, and a hidden graveyard!

And all of this takes place in modern-day USA.

Actually, the time and place was difficult for me to pin down at first. What really threw me was when Ariel had store credit at the general store in the "village" near which she lived. As a matter of serendipity, I happened to have been researching the concept of store credit the week before I started reading this book. (Strange, huh? I research all sorts of oddball things.) Therefore, when I ran into the scene where Ariel manages to pay off some of her store credit, my thought process went something like this.

Ok, so they have cars and telephones, so it's at least the 1900s. They also have store credit, so it cannot be much later than 1950. Since they were recently financially ruined, I'm tempted to guess this takes place in the 30s. However, Ariel has a master's degree in liberal arts; when were they first available?

As it turns out, the time frame is at least 1995 or later. Not sure why that guy in the general store doesn't have a credit card machine.

This is the ONLY critique I can think of. The story has grabbed me and I have no idea where it is going to take me. I'm almost exactly halfway through the novel. The mysterious man, Louvel, has his share of unexpected blemishes on his character, and he either has a monster in his house, or he IS the monster in his house. He has some 'splaining to do about more than a few things, and he's not exactly the talkative type. The whole thing has the feel of a fairy tale, especially of Beauty and the Beast, which is probably the very first Gothic story, ever (well, maybe not).

I'm loving it. It makes me nostalgic. Maybe I need to go to the library and check out some Victoria Holt books to reread. Then again, maybe I ought to just try to get through the reading stack I've accumulated so far.


Raven said...

I ordered Master of Shadows from Amazon today. The more I thought about this book and the Beauty and the Beast connection, the more I felt it would be for me, even if the romance is primary. Can't wait till it gets here!

Why does Blogger insist I have to provide my full name before it will link to my Wordpress account? Can they make this any less user-friendly? Grr!

Tia Nevitt said...

I'll be curious to hear your opinion once you've read it.

I'm not sure what Blogger is doing. I know that what I have below is an experimental thing. I'm going to try it with my wordpress blog.

Tia Nevitt said...

Ok, it didn't work for me. I know that it uses OpenID, which would have you actually sign into your wordpress blog. For it to do that, I guess it needs your blog website, then your userid and password.

Raven said...

It wanted my blog addy and then my full name. When it asked me if I wanted to provide my name and I pressed the "no" button, nothing happened. I gave up.

I'll probably review Master of Shadows on my writing blog. I'm thinking of doing some reviews there. After all, that's writing-related.

Anonymous said...

If you do write that review, I'll link to it here!

I'm going to try again to see what happens when I log in as WordPress.

Anonymous said...

Ok, when you agree to "pass your identity" to blogger, you get a nice backlink, as above.

I think this deserves a separate post, complete with screenshots, so I did it again on this post.

Anonymous said...

I think it was the passing my identity part that freaked me out. Let me try again.