The plot: Having read Pride and Prejudice umpteen times I was finally ready to succumb to a sequel set six years after Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy have married. Written by highly acclaimed author P.D. James and promising to be a darker tale of death, murder suspicion and intrigue, it sounded just the ticket for a winter afternoon.
The good bits: Very atmospheric…lets move on
The bad bits: Although the plot is promising there are so many flaws it begins to become a painful read. Admittedly, I had to force myself to read the last 5 pages made up of Darcy and Elizabeth discussing their relationship ups and downs in P&Ps. There can be no real purpose of going over old ground, in detail, which ardent fans do not need to know, and those who don’t, can read the first book themselves.
The book focuses mostly on the male characters; Mr Darcy, Colonel Fitzwilliam and of course the infamous Mr Wickham. If you are hoping for more adventures from the Bennet girls then don’t expect much. Even Elizabeth, our headstrong, witty and most
favourite heroine hardly has two words to put together. How can P.D. James possible write of our beloved girl ‘ Elizabeth had been sitting quietly wondering whether she could speak without making matters worse’ and a mere five pages later is quoted as not even knowing what to say. No, I couldn’t believe it either.
If it hadn’t been for the complete lack of Bennet passion, wit and friendly feuds then this sequel would have stood a fighting chance as a new classic favourite.
Worth a mention: P.D. James writes in her notes, ‘ I owe an apology to the shade of Jane Austen for involving her beloved Elizabeth in the trauma of a murder investigation….had (Austen) wished to dwell on such odious subjects, she would have written this story herself, and done it better.’ Well P.D. James, I couldn’t have put it better myself.
When you should read it: If you still want to give it a go, its suited to Autumn/wintry days. If you do happen to find Miss Austen’s classic, then read that, if not, find something else.
…a ‘textbook’ ghost story
When a group of friends set off on an exploration of the Arctic, eager for adventure, they are oblivious to the danger and darkness they face ahead.
You are invited to read Jack’s diary, a young man whose luck turns when he is offered the life changing experience of wireless operator which he sees as an opportunity to make a name for himself.
When unfortunate events start forcing the others to abandon the expedition Jack finds himself with the difficult choice of abandoning the trip or staying behind to face whatever is walking among them.
Sounds like a great premise doesn’t it? An Arctic winter, an era when communications were basic, something unknown walking around the camp, in the endless days of darkness. Enough to give you Goosebumps before reading the first page but does the story live up the hype?
Well, it would apart from one major problem. You end up not really caring about the main character, Jack. His bitterness of everything from what he perceives as the others not liking him, mainly because he is poor, to complaining he is poor and resenting the easy lives he perceives the others of having. Why they bothered taking him on the trip is beyond me. So if you can get over this dislike of Jack you might be able to enjoy him shudder and shake at every shadow in the dark. Hash, aren’t I?
There is one saving grace about this book, the description of living a lonely existence in the Arctic winter is both chilling and atmospheric, so much so you will start feeling the cold yourself. Yet it has to be mentioned that the ghost story itself is slightly predictable. Even in the 1930’s, when your weather-beaten Captain refuses to drop you off at the spot you requested with no further explanation and a look of horror on his face you must know there is a good reason for it. Perhaps as a modern audience our ghost sensors are mature and we are used to spotting the clues but this is simple ‘text book’ ghost story telling you wouldn’t expect from this novel.
Nevertheless, its a good story to keep you company over a couple of dark evenings even if it is just to experience being left alone through an Arctic winter. If it hadn’t been for the obvious ghost story this book would have received an ‘excellent’ instead of a simple ‘good.’
All this week we asked you for your best recommendations this Halloween in our Polls. Today we give you the results.
||We asked you what was your favourite adaptation and you choose the blood curdling Dracula. Enjoy this version from the BBC which is arguably the best adaptation true to the book.
||You chose a book great for big and small kids alike with your favourite Witch story with The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy. Join Mildred Hubble at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches and you can learn how to be a terrible witch just like her.
||Your ultimate scary story perfect for Halloween is The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. A ReaderIReadIt favourite, you will be chilled to the bones by this tale of a solicitor who needs to find out the secret behind the mysterious woman dressed in black and the dark twist behind it all.
Other books you might be interested in not only for Halloween but to see you through the winter are:
Dark Matter by Michelle Paver
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
The Witch Hunts by Professor Robert Thurst
Our special Halloween MidWeek book reccomendation has been picked by Yvonne Johnston. The Lost Book of Salem by Katherine Howe. Finding a parchment inscribed with the name Deliverance Dane, Connie a PHD student, sets out to discover the secrets of her family’s history which takes her back to the terrifying days of the Salem Witch Trials which took place in 1692. Yvonne describes the book as a bit ’Dan Brownesque’ but a good page turner for Halloween.
Sound like this is the book for you this week? Click on the cover in order to magic it’s way to you.
Thanks to Yvonne for her suggestion, you can catch up with Yvonne on twitter: Whyjay99
If you have a great book reccomendation then get in touch and you could be mentioned on ReaderIReadIt. Email email@example.com with your suggestions.
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We’ve had Vampires, and we’ve had witches and with hunts. Today it is the turn of ghosts, silent and terrifying, we are never quite sure if they are a fragment of our imagination or lost souls destined to haunt Earth for eternity . There are thousands of spine-chilling ghost stories in literature, but we have chosen a new book destined to be a bestseller this year. Dark Matter by Michelle Paver is a story surrounding a group of Arctic explorers. While discovering this harsh landscape, numbers soon dwindle until one man, Jack, is left to record his experiences in his journal. But is he alone?
Watch the book trailer below and click on the cover to get your copy today.
As we find out your favourite book dedicated to the best fictional witches imagined, we look at the terrifying true story of the witch hunts in Britain. If you were living between 1400 -1700 and had a gift for predicting the weather, curing illness, nearby when someone who had a misfortune and needed someone to blame, or unfortunate to have a husband who was quick to point the finger in your direction when he was fed up with you. Either way you would be treated to a dunking in the nearest river just to make sure you had supernatural powers by being able to hold your breath, and if you didn’t drown you were dragged to the nearest pile of fire wood and set alight. Not a time of girl power, it has to be said.
For all the tragedy there is an interesting story behind the witch hunts that swept the world in a hysteria ready to rid the world of evil. Professor Robert Thurston examines the evolution of the witch hunts and sets the record straight on the myths and legends that have resulted from them. So this Halloween, read this fascinating but tragic account of the true victims of evil.
As our countdown to Halloween begins, we celebrate today our Monster pick. Who could argue that the first thought we have of a monster is Frankenstein, but would you imagine that it was created by a young girl of 18 in 1818, and just when you were thinking all young ladies in the 19th Century could imagine were pretty dresses and future husbands. It was a particular rainy summer when young Mary Godwin (later Shelly) imagined her terrifying subject. “I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion. Frightful must it be; for SUPREMELY frightful would be the effect of any human endeavour to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world.”
You’ll be surprised that the character is this book isn’t the green, dumb, zombie like monster from the film but something that has more depth and meaning making this book a special read.
And if you have read the terrifying tale already why not read about the girl behind the monster. Mary Shelley, who grew up in the Romantic era around her own cast of colourful and wonderful characters which inspired her imagination. Read her story by clicking on the cover.
Rate our Monster: Frankenstein
The countdown to Halloween has begun with only 7 days to the scariest night of the year. You may be getting your costumes ready or buying in sweets for trick and treaters but have you got a good read to keep you company? Some of ReaderIReadIt’s favourite books are those dedicated to the paranormal and with so many great stories it is difficult to choose. From Bram Stoker’s Dracula to the phenomenal success of Twilight, children’s favourite Roald Dahl’s The Witches to the terrifying true accounts of the witch hunts themselves. This week we will be celebrating the best of literature that makes it difficult to turn the lights off at night.
All week you can get involved with ReaderIReadIt. Influence this week’s posts by voting in our Spooky Poll’s, join the discussion in your favourite books for Halloween in our Forum, and today you can begin by joining our Reading Group.
Read Along With Us for Halloween
As the day itself is approaching fast we have chosen a short story which we challenge you to read this week. The Man in the Picture by Susan Hill begins in the colleges of Cambridge one winter’s evening. A don tells his former Student, Oliver, the story behind a painting of a Venetian Carnival scene. Slowly this strange and haunting tale unravels the mystery behind the picture. Will its secret be laid to rest or keep taking its victims? You will have to read the book to find out. Click on the cover to get your copy and share your thoughts in our Forum by Halloween.
We hope we manage to chill you the bones of this terrifying and haunting week. Now it’s time for us all to check underneath the bed for monsters, in the wardrobes for ghosts and get snuggled up with our favourite books.
…will haunt you till the last page
Not the obvious ghost thriller but more a tale of hauntings that have more impact than bumps in the night. This sophisticated feel to the story gives credit to Andrew Taylor’s new novel The Anatomy of Ghosts.
It is the sighting of Lady Whichcote, recently drowned in the grounds of Jerusalem College, Cambridge, which sends Frank Oldershaw into the asylum. Desperate to salvage her son’s reputation, Lady Anne Oldershaw hires the services of John Holdsworth, author of a book discrediting the spirit world, to make sense of the matter. When Holdsworth discovers there is more to Sylvia Whichcote’s death and that she is not the only young lady to die upon College Grounds, the mystery unravels. The realisation that it is not just the physical sighting of ghosts that can haunt the human soul is a lesson learned by both men.
Taylor creates the perfect backdrop to this haunting tale in the confined colleges of 18th Century Cambridge. As we follow the character’s movements around the streets and waterways, a world of secrets, power struggles and the darker side of privileged life emerges. The language, the characters the setting all add to the mood of the novel making it not only an entertaining read but will grip you in suspense throughout.