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!
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.
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.