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03 February 2017 @ 05:20 pm
Are you guys tired of Gothics yet? Because I have TWO MORE! And then I am caught up (on Gothics) (not on books in general) (despite my best efforts, that is unlikely to ever happen.)

Anyway these are a new-to-me beast, Andre Norton gothics! I had no idea that she had written anything of the sort until Open Road Media put out all those free ebooks a month or so back, at which point I of course grabbed as many as I could find; I have saved some for later, but while in the Galapagos I read Iron Butterflies and Snow Shadow.

Iron Butterflies is actually more of a Ruritanian romance than a Gothic; Our Heroine Amelia Harrach is a LONG-LOST HEIR to a kingdom somewhere in mumblety-Germany whose grandfather was recalled back to be prince of his mumblety-German kingdom after impulsively marrying her grandmother while a captive Hessian officer in the Revolutionary War. Grandma dies, but it turns out His Granddad Majesty is still alive (though not for much longer) and feeling guilty about his abandoned American family, so he sends a Noble Officer and a Sinister Grafin to collect her and bring her back to Ruritania.

Amelia has no actual interest in any kind of long-lost Ruritanian inheritance -- she is only here because it was GRANDMA'S DYING WISH to be acknowledged as a legitimate wife, and Amelia respected her grandma! -- and, somewhat hilariously, spends the entire book vehemently disapproving of everything and everyone she finds in mumblety-Germany. They give her fancy court dresses, and Amelia's like "I DISAPPROVE OF LOW NECKLINES." They show her the Crown Jewels, and Amelia's like "GAUDY TRASH." The Sinister Grafin presents a dashing-but-evil love interest who in most Gothics would act as a red herring for pages; Amelia's immediate response is, "WELL, HE SEEMS LIKE A TOOL." Eventually she gets drugged and dumped in a crumbling castle where the walls keep wailing "fear death!" at her; her reaction? "Not fear, but a kind of irritation." Amelia has no patience for these decadent aristocrats and all their haunted goings-on!

As you may have guessed, I kind of loved Amelia. Moreover, the one thing she does stress out about in the haunted castle is worrying whether her maid is OK, which I found endearing.

Meanwhile, Noble Officer who is her designated love interest is also really judgy and has about as much of a sense of humor as Amelia does, which is to say none, making them of the few Gothic couples that I can see really having a future together! Also, she gets to rescue him from a dungeon, which always helps to cement a relationship.

The heroine of Snow Shadow is ALSO really judgy, but in a way I found ... less endearing .......

This book is actually set in the 1960s, but Our Heroine Erica Jansen missed the entire counterculture movement due to being tied to the side of a very strict aunt, and boy howdy does it show. Typical Erica statements:

"Maybe I was an anachronism in my generation, but then I had never felt any kinship with people of my own age."
"It happens I dislike the taste of most drinks and do not take them."
"I mentally set my teeth against being withered by the supreme self-confidence of a woman who used all the power of her sex."

Lot of fun YOU are at parties, Erica Who Does Not Understand The Youth These Days! (I mean, disliking the taste of alcohol is perfectly reasonable, but it's the pompous way she says it that's just -- well, it gives you a sense of her character for sure!)

The confidently withering woman, by the way, is Leslie Lowndes and she might be evil but she was nonetheless my favorite character in the book, mostly because of how single-mindedly she goes about getting breakfast when everyone's stuck in the house awaiting inquiries by the police. Leslie has priorites!

Anyway, Erica Who Does Not Understand The Youth These Days takes a room in an old boarding-house named Northanger Abbey by its Austen-obsessed former owner, who generated a lot of family drama among his daughters and then died. The family drama proceeds to play out when Aunt Somebody's Corpse is surprise!swapped for Wicked Cousin Somebody Else's, and it turns out there's a gang involved, and an inheritance, and a fake long-lost Austen manuscript which sadly does not get much pagespace at all, and eventually a kidnapping. Erica spends most of her time a.) wondering how she got stuck in the middle of all this and b.) fretting over detective-on-the-case Mark Rohmer, who of course happens to be the One Relationship She Ever Had, which ended in a Big Misunderstanding when she saw him having lunch with a woman IDed as "Mrs. Rohmer", and immediately fled without ever resuming contact. Typical Erica!

Detective Mark Rohmer is also Native, for the record. This has no bearing on the plot at all but does allow Erica to occasionally drops a gross statements about how Exotically Fascinating she finds it that he's Indian! but so unexpectedly cultured! but surely UNDER HIS OUTER SHELL he must be GOVERNED BY THE MORES OF ANOTHER PEOPLE -- ugh, basically. You get the gist. I cannot think of any reason at all that Detective Mark would be interested in Erica, but, I mean, I'm biased, because I don't like her. Probably there's something! Overall I think I must consider this book a sad waste of a good Austen-mania plot.

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