Reviews by Saxon Slade

Curious, if True

by Elizabeth Gaskell

Elizabeth Gaskell was a Victorian novelist who was beloved in her time and underappreciated in ours. Like so many of her circle of female authors in that time, she loved a good ghost story. Not all these five tales involve ghosts, but they all include the sense of atmosphere and suspense we enjoy in such a tale. The five stories are:

The Old Nurse's Story
The Poor Clare
Lois the Witch
The Grey Woman
Curious, if True

The first is an oft-anthologized, classic ghost story. Some modern readers will find it overwrought, but it certainly delivers the goods. "Lois the Witch" is more about psychology and the persecution, Salem-style, of suspected witches than it is about the supernatural. "The Grey Woman" is a thrilling novelette of a persecuted young woman who unknowingly marries an evil man. All the stories were recently dramatized on England's BBC radio, because nearly a century and a half after writing, they're still great stories.

Reviewed on 2008.03.20

The Woman in White

by Wilkie Collins

I always hope discerning readers know how to ignore the reviewers like Leo who can be found all over the Internet dissing things that they aren't capable of appreciating.

This book is a classic page-turner that will keep you guessing. It is one of four exceptional novels that Collins wrote before his personal life, particularly a laudanum addiction, began to catch up with him. Anyone who enjoys a Victorian pot-boiler (not an oxymoron; they were known as "sensation fiction" novels) should read Wilkie's greatest: Woman in White, The Moonstone, Armadale, and No Name. You won't be sorry, unless you are like Leo.

Reviewed on 2008.03.19

The Wings of the Morning

by Louis Tracy

Outstanding. I don't know how I came to read an e-book by an author with whom I was unfamiliar, and with a title that sounded like a Harlequin Romance. But I was glad I came across this one. It has a little bit of everything--thrills, comic dialogue, a nicely-handled romance (for its time; it's an old-fashioned book, and I mean that as a compliment).

The book begins as a survival tale, kind of a male and female Robinson Crusoe, and develops into an action thriller. I recommend this for a good, enjoyable time-passer.

Reviewed on 2008.03.17

The Angel of Terror

by Edgar Wallace

Edgar Wallace had a high old time writing this one. We love the humble heroine, but we don't admire her cranial powers. Several attempts on her life are insufficient to arouse her suspicions. Her antogonist, the femme fatale, is quite a piece of work as well. I like the way Wallace seemed to make things up as he went along, and defied the expected moral ending which I will not spoil for you here.

Plot in a nutshell: Heroine comes into the money in unlikely fashion; greedy society leech stands next to inherit it, and seeks to do away with her while they vacation together. Nice surprises, fun characters.

Reviewed on 2008.03.14

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