Reviews by Paulo Respighi

The Pale Ape

by Matthew Phipps Shiel

A new governess comes to an isolated manor to tutor the daughter of a man writing a history of an Egyptian kingdom. Besides servants and later, a visiting cousin, the place is empty. Three apes are kept caged outside, and there are rumors that a fourth ape had escaped and been found dead, but haunted the mansion.
A nicely menacing story with good characters and description, and a plot that doesn't skimp on the mayhem.

Reviewed on 2014.10.01

Bygone Punishments

by William Andrews

A very uneven account of the various methods of killing or torturing and mutilating people throughout the history of England. Hanging, pressing, burning at the stake, boiling, beheading, branding, whipping, the stocks, the pillory . . . and more.
Unfortunately, the author gives more details about trivial things than the main means of execution. Drawing and quartering and boiling to death have no details, while 30 pages are spent on the brank--a method of silencing loud women.
Halfway through the book I discovered that gutenberg.org had the same book with all the etchings intact. I'd recommend that version, if only to learn the difference between stocks and the pillory.

Reviewed on 2014.09.29

The Mysterious Spaniard

by Anonymous

A French knight fetches his sister from her convent school and finds her infatuated with a stranger she saw once. Coincidentally, the stranger is at their home when they arrive. Marriage and babies follow. The husband disappears, and the Frenchman and a friend set out to find him.
Actually, a pretty good story, better written than most romantic thrillers, though a bit archaic. The ending ties up the mysterious events, but requires a very generous reader to accept.
This author was certainly prolific.

Reviewed on 2014.09.27

The Great Return

by Arthur Machen

The story of miraculous events at a Welsh fishing village are eventually pieced together by a skeptical Londoner. It's a story that is slow to develop and different for Machen, in that it's not so much a ghost story as the account of the Arthurian legends of the Fisher King coming true in Wales.
A very upbeat story slathered with mysticism.

Reviewed on 2014.09.24

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