Old houses, Victorian killers and an immortal: books read

THE TWISTED ONES by T. Kingfisher (AKA Ursula Vernon of Digger and Castle Hangnail) has a North Carolina woman reluctantly drive to her late grandmother’s house to clear out her possessions so Dad won’t have to. In between ruminating on her life, she stumbles onto a journal by her grandfather full of cryptic passages about strange things in the woods, then discoves what he was talking about when she stumbles into an uncanny land that shouldn’t exist. Unfortunately the first 100 pages are overwhelmingly a mundane story of a woman cleaning out a house and Kingfisher couldn’t keep me interested, nor did the uncanny land make up for it when we finally got there. Possibly the problem is that Kingfisher’s riffing on Arthur Machen’s short story “The White People,” and I’m not as fond of Machen as she is. So thumbs down for me, though I did love the protagonist’s dog (he reminds me a lot of Plushie, below).

ETERNAL WARRIOR: Sword of the Wild by Greg Pak, Trevor Hairsine and a couple of other artists is I believe a prequel to the immortal Gilad’s appearance in Archer and Armstrong. Unfortunately Gilad turning against the Earth and the gods only to run into his still faithful daughter and his now monstrous son really doesn’t tie in well to the other series and didn’t grab me in its own right. Competent, but not terribly distinguished.

PRETTY JANE AND THE VIPER OF KIDBROOKE LANE: A True Story of Victorian Law and Disorder by Paul Thomas Murphy tells how the discovery of a murdered maid in 1871 became a cause celebré. Police interested fixed on the son of the girl’s former employer, whom they claimed seduced her, then dispatched her when she became pregnant. While this was sensational in its day, it’s not a gripping crime by today’s standards, and maybe not that startling then — both Invention of Murder and Black Swine in the Sewers of Hampstead show how morbidly the Victorians fixated on tales of scandal and death like this. The details of legal and police procedure are interesting but not enough to make the book so (The Poisoner did a better job with its Crime of the Century).



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