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Gumbywan

Randolph "Dilda" Carter

A rant about books, horror, and the weird.  I sometimes take on my love/hate relationship with goodreads and Amazon.

Currently reading

Perchance to Dream: Selected Stories
Ray Bradbury, Charles Beaumont, William Shatner
Progress: 140/336 pages
Pavane
Keith Roberts

Possessed

The Survivor (Valancourt 20th Century Classics) - Dennis Parry, Mark Valentine

A pretty good possession yarn. The characters are drawn like those of a modern Dickens tale. The time is between the wars and the place is a dreary East Anglia. Influenza plays a role as almost another character, it certainly drives the first half of the novel. Bouts of humor hide the tragedy which is unfolding in the background.

 

Unlike a lot of possession stories the actors here don't long remain clueless as to what is actually happening. While they recoil at the idea, the evidence overwhelms their incredulity as the innocent Olive displays more and more thc character (and voice) of her departed and odious uncle. The trick is Parry doesn't paint the Uncle James as completely despicable. He shows an ounce of humanity and tenderness towards Olive which seems to belie his character once he reaches the other side of the grave. The story turns on everyone's attempts to rid Olive of the demon by appealing to the remnants of its paternal affections. Despite all this only Lady Ponds seems to understand the seriousness of the situation and how it will affect everyone, not just Olive.

 

Parry has an excellent grasp of metaphor that keeps the prose fluid. He also has a joust with class and manners which while not exactly Victorian, often keeps the characters from collaborating effectively when they need to. Whether this has any effect on the outcome is left up to the reader.

 

Nice introduction by author Mark Valentine. Valancourt Books does a nice job of resurrecting these hard to find gems.