Tag Archives: Gothic

‘Hawthorne Cottage’ by R.L. McCallum

Hawthorne Cottage

I shall broach unto thee a dark farewell

If not ye heed this ghastly knell –

Henceforth beware where time is keeping

The dead abroad who are not sleeping…

Summary

Thus begins R.L. McCallum’s Victorian gothic tale of Professor Alexander Greystone, a writer from London who moves to a haunted cottage in Hampshire, England for a more peaceful, simple life. Little does he suspect the terror that awaits there in the form of the seven Hawthorne sisters, former tenants of the cottage who haunt the house and whose contact with the living is rife with terror and violence. The novel follows Greystone’s investigations into the root of paranormal activities at Hawthorne Cottage, bringing the reader through a gamut of close calls, near-death and (full-death!) experiences, a haunted painting, and ignorant curious bystanders until it comes to its conclusion and the reader finds out whodunit.

The plot was imaginative and enjoyable, the perfect story for a rainy day, and I finished this book in less than a week, which is always a good thing. It holds the attention of the reader in most places, but I did find it to drag too slowly in several instances. The author claimed to have purposely used Victorian vernacular in writing this piece, but I found a few anachronisms, and  at times the character voices were not very distinguishable from one another, especially those of Professor Greystone and Constable Kingsley. Other than that, however, the description was excellent and the dialogue between Greystone and Woodruff was especially good.

Plot

I enjoyed the classic elements of the gothic novel, the rain, the ruined cottage, the hauntings, a few deaths. I was slightly disappointed that the nature of Mrs. Parmby’s relationship to the Hawthorne sisters was not further explored, and I felt Miss Farnsworth was not prominent enough a character to be included as she is in the synopsis of the book. I also wondered why, if Anastasia Hawthorne were pregnant when she died, was there no baby among the hauntings at Hawthorne Cottage? The conclusion had promise, and then fell short. The mystery of the killer of the Hawthorne sisters was solved, but Abigail Hawthorne had not been helped to the other side, nor did Greystone discover where she had been laid to rest. The reader, however, is told in what feels like an aside, of how Abigail is brought to peace and where her body had been hidden all along. It felt untrue to Alexander’s character that he would muscle through so many near-death escapes at Hawthorne Cottage to get to the bottom of the mystery, all for the sake of writing his book, which is a very strong motive, and then not give himself the satisfaction of tying up the loose ends for himself and his readers, especially when the other spirits were no longer causing trouble in the house to distract him. I also felt that the death of Cora McKenna was unnecessary, unless the trend of women dying in whom Alexander is interested is to continue in further Professor Greystone novels, as was hinted at in several places throughout the book.

‘The Gothic’ – Check out this link for an explanation of the genre of gothic literature

Grammar & Punctuation

I found there to be several small grammar and punctuation errors, but nothing that hindered the actual progression of the book, and all in all I quite enjoyed this spooky story.

Star Rating

For an excellent ghost story (but because of a few too many hitches) I give this book a resounding 3.5 stars out of 5 and recommend it as a satisfying read for a rainy day or a weekend at the cabin.

Further Reading

R.L. McCallum has a great voice and other works by him can be found on Amazon or at his website.


Book Review – ‘Gothic Art Now’ compiled by Jasmine Becket-Griffith

As the name suggests, Gothic Art Now (published in 2008), brings together several genres of current Gothic art in a book full of death and decay, melancholia and madness – for those who love every minute of it. To be honest, I felt the works represented seemed somewhat limited (I felt there should have been a wider variety of artists represented – too many of them had more than three entries in the anthology, and anyone who has ever been on DeviantArt will tell you that there is no shortage of artists just as, if not even more, talented as those represented in the book, even in 2008). I also felt the heavy heavy reliance on Adobe Photoshop in nearly every single one of the pieces was a tad disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, I understand Photoshop takes great skill to master and to create with, but a bit more variety in methods of creating would have been nice. Categories were divided into eight different kinds of new Gothic art: Femmes Fatales, Men in Black, Gothic Elegance, Industrial Goth, Lurking Horror, Dark Fantasy, Creepy Creations, and Grim Comics. The cover photo (‘Autumn Has Come’ by Natalia Peirandrei, done with markers and watercolours on watercolour paper), was one of my favourites, as well as the pieces showcased below. Overall, some very great thought-provoking pieces, and interesting read, and I give it a hearty 3 out of 5 stars.

Some of my Faves

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‘Semaphore’ by Steven Kenny, done in oil on linen.

I think she looks a little like breelark here with her long braid.

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‘Black Roses and Bite Marks’ by Tom Lavelle, done in pencil, digitally painted.

Like a mix of Lucille Ball and Marilyn Monroe if they ever became vampiresses!

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‘Stick Girl’ by Gus Fink, using mixed media.

I love the weird additions to an already slightly-creepy vintage photograph. Reminded me very much of the weird photographs in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Hollow City by Ransom Riggs.

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‘Marco’ by Jessica Joslin, sculpture.

Because let’s face it, organ-grinder monkeys kind of look like this anyway. And this one won’t steal your money. ;P

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‘Trick’ by Krisgoat, a digital painting.

And last but not least, the adorable Trick, who has a sweeter sister (not included in the book) named Treat – she can be found here.

So there you have it! This was a great find at Value Village, and a lot of fun to look through. Recommended library reading or used-book purchase, if you’re interested in the darker side of art. If you are looking to buy something, however, I would recommend going to your local Indigo/Chapters/Coles outlet (or for those of you in the States, something like Barnes & Noble) and finding something with a bit more variety and more of an exploration of technique, etc.

Peace out and stay creepy! >^.^<