Tag Archives: paranormal

‘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.


Husband/Wife Book Reviews: ‘The Twilight Saga: Twilight’ by Stephenie Meyer

My wife delighted in challenging me to read Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, and despite my many delays I completed it nearly a year after being challenged. (An over-the-weekend reader I am not).
For those of you living in a cave and came out to read my review (a fine choice) Twilight is the love story of Forks, Washington exile Bella Swan and with the both unbelievably handsome and strange Edward Cullen. Through a variety of odd events/rescues, Bella finds out that Edward and his family are vampires. Drawn to one another, despite their differences, Bella soon finds herself in the world of the fascinating and dangerous world of the Cullens. With all its risks, Bella is left to decide whether or not a life with Edward is possible, and Meyer’s work ends happily with the two together.
While widely criticized (particularly the simplified movie version) for having a predictable storyline, a variety of romantic and high-school cliches, and at times groan-inducing/creepy acts of love (Edward watching Bella sleep every night comes to mind) Twilight does have some redeeming and enjoyable parts to it.
One of the things I noticed reading this work was Meyer’s naturalistic feel to the whole work. Forks, Washington really comes alive, and the idea of the dark, damp brooding forest surrounding the characters really helps add to the books feel of strangeness and beauty. Likewise, Meyer writes in an easy-going, at times quite humorous, style that instantly connects the reader with the mind and world of a high school student. Bella, despite how odd she believes she is, is a very easy person to understand and relate to. Certain relationships, like the one between Bella and her father Charlie are charming in both their distance and closeness. Even with all the supernatural things happening in Twilight, the characters and the environment are very real.
Meyer’s use of tension, especially when Bella is in Port Angeles, or dealing with the Tracker in Phoenix is very effective, and even had me an out-and-out critic of Twilight, really into it. Despite my best efforts, I actually did enjoy reading this book.
Now, only 3 books left to see if this will hold up.

3 stars out of 5

Featured image


‘Resurrection: State of Grace’ by Elizabeth Davies (January 18th, 2015)

Reposted from LiveJournal:

Featured image

State of Grace is not at all what I thought it would be like. It’s a paranormal romance/time travel novel set in Brecon, Wales. Grace Llewellyn is dying of an incurable brain tumour and often finds herself transported back to various time periods but still in the same location. During these unexplained trips that simply happen out of the blue (which she attributes to her tumour), she meets and falls in love with an intriguing vampire named Roman, who had been born in Roman times and resurrected 900 years previous to the book’s main time period of around 1060. The tiresome repetition of erotic coupling scenes aside (the first one or two were engaging, the others felt somewhat obligatory to me, but then again, I’m not much for sex scenes unless I’m really specifically seeking erotica, so that could just be my personal preference), I was pleasantly surprised by Davies’ clear and concise, yet descriptive and emotionally engaging writing style. I enjoyed and appreciated the amount of research that must have gone into the historical accuracy of events and people and places and even the linguistic changes that can take place in one place over hundreds of years, as well as the same attention to detail regarding the popular culture of Grace’s (our) modern time. Reminiscent of the best parts of both the Twilight Saga and Shades of Grey, yet not completely either, I really did enjoy this book. I am not much of a romance novel fan, so I was really surprised how much I liked it.

The only thing I will say straight off that I did not like was how abruptly the book ended. A cliffhanger is one thing, but I felt that nothing had truly been resolved and that there had been no clear direction or catharsis after Grace’s sudden return to her own time near the end. It really is necessary to have the next book (and possibly the last in the trilogy as well) to actually feel a sense of completion or satisfaction, and I did not like that. I feel any given book in a trilogy should be able to stand as a book on its own unless it is merely the first volume of one story. This book is marketed as a complete story in and of itself, and that’s simply not true.

That said, I eagerly began the next book in the trilogy, Amazing Grace, and look forward to finding out why Grace is able to time travel, why she keeps running into Roman the vampire, how their relationship progresses, what can be learned about Wales during the times she experiences there, and whether or not she will meet Roman in her own time. Also: will she become a vampire herself? I have a feeling that story (if it does take place) might be something reserved for the third book, Sanctifying Grace. A great light read, which I give 3.75 stars out of 5.