Spring Into Horror Read-a-thon 2015: What I’m Reading

15 Apr

Spring into Horror Read-a-thon

Time for daffodils, tulips, and scary reading!  My selections for this year’s Spring Into Horror Read-a-thon are not primarily horror, but they do have their scary or mysterious elements. I am happy that Michelle makes her Seasons of Reading event flexible enough to welcome those who wish to read only around the edges of the horror genre. For this one, I’ve selected some books that may scare the wits out of me yet! We’ll see.

Today is April 15; not only is that tax filing day in the U.S., but it is also the birthday of novelist Henry James (he would be 172).  The Fifth Heart, Dan Simmon’s new literary mystery (just released in March), finds Henry James teaming up with Sherlock Holmes to investigate the death of Clover Adams, the wife of writer Henry Adams. Their pairing is complicated by the existential crisis of Holmes who has deduced that he is a fictional character!

Fifth Heart cover

Another Dan Simmons novel, Drood, has been on my mental list for a while, since it combines biographical fiction about Charles Dickens with speculation about the intended ending of his last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, whose horrible aspects are magnified by the lack of resolution.  This week I will continue reading A Tale of Two Cities, our Dickens selection for the TuesBookTalk Read-a-Longs group at Goodreads.  Although it certainly has much sweetness in the relationship between Doctor Manette and his daughter Lucie, the Reign of Terror, which readers know will follow the French Revolution and endanger noble-hearted nobleman Charles Darney, casts an eerie shadow over the whole story.

Finally, I am reading The Original Folk & Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Editiion, translated and edited by noted fairy-tale specialist Jack Zipes.  This illustrated collection brings together English translations of all the stories from the Grimms’ 1812 and 1815 first editions.  Zipes emphasizes that these versions are closer to the originals that the brothers recorded from traditional storytellers. They tend to be shorter, more clipped in style, and faithful to the scarier aspects of many of the tales. The illustrations by Andrea Dezsö are interesting: they are black-and-white and give the impression of being simple woodcuts (or paper cutouts), but their content and arrangement of elements looks impressionistic and modern. They are also reminiscent of Arthur Rackham’s silhouette illustration technique, such as he used for Cinderella, or “Aschenputtel” in the Grimms’ tales.

Original Brothers Grimm cover

Sign-ups for the Read-a-thon continue all week, until Friday (see Guidelines), and you don’t have to have a blog. You can join from Facebook, Goodreads, or Twitter!  Look for discussion with hashtag #SpringHorrorRAT to find out what everyone is reading and to join the scheduled chat.  Only one scary or mysterious book needs to be on your reading menu for the week; whatever else you are reading is fine too.

7 Responses to “Spring Into Horror Read-a-thon 2015: What I’m Reading”

  1. Adrian April 16, 2015 at 7:38 am #

    Great list there, Lucy. I love that your reading is so structured and there’s always a thread running though everything that you read. That’s so different to my disparate, lucky-dip approach to reading.

    I’m particularly interested to see how you get on with The Fifth Heart. I’ve never read any Holmes outside of Conan-Doyle’s works, myself. Same goes for James Bond and Fleming (sorry, I know you’re not a Bond girl). I think I’d like to, with both, though.

    Have fun with the read-a-thon, and don’t get too scared!

    • Lucy Pollard-Gott April 16, 2015 at 8:20 am #

      Thanks, Adrian! I am enjoying The Fifth Heart so far. Dan Simmons catches the cadence of Holmes’s speech, especially in his recitation (to Henry James) of his previous associates who *failed* to recognize him while he was incognito as Jan Sigerson, a Norwegian explorer!

  2. JaneGS April 21, 2015 at 4:37 pm #

    Drood has been on my shelf for far too long now, but The Fifth Heart sounds great! What a dilemma for poor Mr. Holmes.

    Tale of Two Cities is such a marvelous book that I wish I had time to reread it along with the Group. I still haven’t seen an adaptation, but maybe will do that yet this spring.

    You are braver than I, reading the original (albeit translated) Grimm stories. I don’t think my psyche could take such an assault, but I will be eager to read our thoughts about the book overall. The cover is certainly disturbing enough!

    Wish I had time for the Horror read-a-thon–I actually have some books on my shelves that I’ve been saving for this fall, but I am feeling even less more time pressures than ever right now.

    I miss chatting with you–I need to check out what won for May.

    • Lucy Pollard-Gott April 21, 2015 at 9:56 pm #

      I hope you do get to see a film of A Tale of Two Cities! I have the 1935 classic fixed in my mind, but I am curious to see the 1980 film for TV with Alice Krige as Lucie Manette and Chris Sarandon playing both Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay–as it should be, according to the story where their likeness was so marked. In the 1935 film, Ronald Colman plays Carton only.

      I do understand the time pressure! I would have liked to join the David Copperfield reread, as you did. The Pickwicks usually read too fast for me–I take my Dickens, however much beloved, slowly, and I’m already behind in my reread of A Tale! And I want to read Edwin Drood along with “Drood.”

      The original Grimm tales are very readable, but I need to focus on some story by story comparison of versions, to make sense of it. There are also new tales not published/translated before.

      We are reading the Louisa May Alcott biography. I’m looking forward to it, and already have my library copy. 🙂 Will look forward to chatting with you again soon, Jane!

  3. thetruebookaddict April 22, 2015 at 2:01 am #

    I already know what your reading, but had to stop by and officially welcome you to the read-a-thon! I did not realize that Simmons had a new one out. Another one to put on my list! I have most of his book…but haven’t read one. *pout* I wish he would have won the poll for Lit Collective, although I’m thrilled about Tana French too.

    Happy Reading, Lucy! I hope you enjoy all your selections.

    • Lucy Pollard-Gott April 22, 2015 at 8:57 am #

      Thanks for stopping by, Michelle, and especially thank you for hosting the read-a-thon! I haven’t read any of Tana French before, so I’m ready to try out her detective/mystery books for Lit Collective, something new which I can compare to some of the Scandinavian detective novels.


  1. My First Dewey Readathon + Spring Into Horror! = Lots of Reading! | The Fictional 100 - April 24, 2015

    […] have already described my Read-a-thon reading list, which includes Dan Simmons’ new take on Sherlock Holmes, The Fifth Heart, as well as the […]

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