No Haunt Me Then!…I Know That Ghosts Have Wandered On The Earth. Be With Me Always…Drive Me Mad, Only Do Not Leave Me in This Dark Alone…I Cannot Live Without My Life! I Cannot Die Without My Soul.: Wuthering Heights (1939)

“Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest so long as I live on! I killed you. Haunt me, then! Haunt your murderer! I know that ghosts have wandered on the Earth. Be with me always. Take any form, drive me mad, only do not leave me in this dark alone where I cannot find you. I cannot live without my life! I cannot die without my soul.”

The American posters for Wuthering Heights are super boring, while the foreign ones are all much more interesting, although I do like the one above a lot! I really love whoever decided to make Heathcliff green as he looks like a monster (or should I say Munster?).

When I was plotting out what film to start Horrofest X with, I was, as usual, struggling. I always want to be sure the first post is a good one, a film that I adore or is special to me. This year the first film was supposed to be from the 1930s and as I started looking at 1930s films, I realized I had already reviewed a lot of my favorite 1930s horror films. On a whim I decided to search backwards, starting with the last year of the decade, 1939, and when I saw Wuthering Heights, I knew it was the perfect film to begin with.

Wuthering Heights (1939) is an adaption of the 19th century gothic novel of the same name, by Emily Brontë. It is a novel I was obsessed with as a tween and teen. I used to read this book over and over again, and I loved Heathcliff more than I should have. But you know teenage girls, they tend to be attracted to the bad boy who “only needs someone to truly show them love and care and then they will change their ways!” Not true at all, but I believed it, and believed it of Heathcliff (at least until I married one and realized that it was a mistake). I essentially was Isabella.

I still enjoy the book, although my ardor for Heathcliff is not as it was a tween/teen, as it is extremely well written and sucks you in from the moment Cathy taps on the windowpane. And this adaption is one that I haven’t seen in a while but have loved because of one truly handsome and amazing man, Laurence Olivier.

Laurence Olivier has always been one of my favorite actors and classic Hollywood heartthrobs and he truly does this part justice. Jane Austen fans should recognize him as the OG Darcy (and even though that film heavily strays from the book I love his version of Darcy as well). He never would have gotten that part if it wasn’t for this film, this one made him a star! Laurence Olivier was just fantastic in this as he can do the moody mcbroody parts so well.

And speaking of Jane Austen, this film is a double feature as not only is it one I would recommend for Jane Austen fans, an Non-Austen Film for Austen fans:

It is also has a spot on Catherine Morland’s Viewing List as this gothic film is one that Catherine would have loved!

Wuthering Heights is a book where the characters all have issues with each other and spend a majority of time fighting or upset with each other. The process of making this film was another one of those cases of “life imitating art” as the cast spent a lot of time behind the scene not getting along at all. This film was directed by William Wyler and he and Laurence Olivier argued a lot. Olivier really resented his directing style of doing multiple takes with slight differences, (prior to this Olivier had done little film acting and more stage work). Later on, he credited Wyler for a lot of growth, but at the time he was heavily annoyed.

Merle Oberon and Olivier also had a rocky relationship. The two had gotten along in a previous film shoot, but spent this one yelling and arguing with each other whenever filming stopped and could not stand each other.

David Niven and Wyler historically did not get along and Niven was dreading this film. At one point Wyler was upset that Niven wouldn’t cry, and wanted to do repeated takes until he did; but Niven told him he had a no crying clause in his contract. Wyler made him get a copy of the contract to prove that this was true. Niven and Oberon also hated working with each other as the two had a romance go sour.

Merle Oberon did not care for working with Wyler as well as his methods of perfection and pushing his actors and actresses rivals Stanley Kuberick. One rain scene he made Oberon do over and over again until she became so sick she vomited and had a fever. When she came back from the hospital he immediately began pushing her as he had before, but she refused to film the scene unless heaters were brought in to protect her health.

You’ll also notice that the clothing is not accurate to the time period as the director changed the clothing to be the 1840s instead of early 1800s as he liked those fashions better.

Samuel Goldwyn Mayer wanted to change the story too as he thought it was too dark for a romance, luckily this suggestion was not accommodated. I used to think Wuthering Heights was a romance, but now as an adult having experienced someone like Heathcliff but worse, the real romance of Wuthering Heights, is the spooky elements and the mysterious moors.

I haven’t seen this movie in years, but I remember really enjoying it. I know it isn’t your typical “horror film”, but I’m counting it as it has Gothic elements, ghosts, and plenty of psychopaths/sociopaths. I know a lot of people talk about Heathcliff’s behavior and dislike him, but to be honest he really doesn’t deserve as much hate as he gets as every character in this film is a truly terrible person.

The film starts off with the credits but use such romantic music, light and airy-but this manor holds mystery, decay, and trouble.

From Twin Peaks

“Only a stranger lost in a storm would dare knock on the door of Wuthering Heights”.

The story begins with poor Mr. Lockwood. He’s a tenant that started renting on Heathcliff’s land to get away from people. Now he’s lost in a blizzard about to go on a ghostly adventure.

In the house is Heathcliff, scowling, angry, harsh and as cold as the blizzard Mr. Lockwood came in from. This is also a woman, Mrs. Heathcliff, in the home, hard and worn-as weathered as the home they live in. I love this imagery.

Mr. Lockwood is trying to make the best of the rudeness received at the house but you can tell he’s like these people are strange. That night he struggles with sleep, especially when one of the shutters come open. He hears a woman crying and she grabs his hand and holds it tight.

From House on Haunted Hill

Frightened he calls for Heathcliff who storms over. Mr. Lockwood tells Heathcliff, who screams and pushes him out-pulling open the shutter and calling to “her” again. He’s so sad and brokenhearted, making you feel for Heathcliff.

Mr. Lockwood is shocked and the housekeeper Nelly tells him that Heathcliff is searching for the girl, Cathy, who died many years ago. Mr. Lockwood doesn’t believe in ghosts, but thinks he is just seeing things. Nelly then decides to tell him the story of what happened all those years ago.

We then go back to 40 years earlier, when Wuthering Heights was a bright and happy place. Wuthering Heights was never a truly happy place in the book. It was less miserable, true, but the late Mr. Earnshaw was not a kind man at all and produced a horrible son who then abuses his sister and Heathcliff. This house has housed misery for so long time; it is seeped into the bones of the manor.

Mr. Earnshaw returns from his trip to Liverpool and instead of just bringing gifts back he also brings a boy-dark skinned, dirty, a “gypsy” child. Mr. Earnshaw kindly admonishes his children for their rude behavior to Heathcliff and all I can think is this Earnshaw is nothing like the Earnshaw in the book. He puts Heathcliff in Hindley’s room, and Hindley is none too pleased about that.

Mr. Earnshaw has been coughing an awful lot ever since he returned home. You all know what that means-he’s on death’s door. He’s not long for this world.

Heathcliff and Cathy get along swimmingly, racing horses and getting into all kinds of mischief. In one game, Heathcliff wins the race against Cathy and wins her as his slave. His joy quickly ends as Hindley, resentful of the love Heathcliff receives from his father and hating the ire he gets, bullies him. He takes his horse from him, reminding him again he will never be anything as he is a nobody, an orphan; he doesn’t even have a last name. And in a time when where you came and your opportunities from were all tangled up in name and family; Heathcliff has nothing. And he is in a system where he will never be able to achieve or grasp anything-unless he does it in slightly illegal ways. In a lot of ways Heathcliff makes me think of Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby. Both are single minded and have an obsession with their first love. Both will do anything possible to get a position of power, wealth, status-even if they need to do it in illegal ways. Both have no qualms using others to get what they want-Heathcliff is just more rude and cruel about his methods lashing out in pain instead of living in denial.

Heathcliff and Hindley fight with Cathy defending Heathcliff and turning against her brother. Hindley beats Heathcliff up, although it is really badly choreographed. Heathcliff is angry and it is pretty odd but I have another comparison. The child actor who played Heathcliff is amazingly spot on, he does a fantastic jobbut the way he and Hindley interacted right now-it makes me think if a mafia movie like The Godfather. The way Heathcliff is so calm and cool-he’s another Michel Corleone.

Heathcliff is calmly furious, which is extremely frightening, and is prepared to wait and find a way to do anything possible to make Hindley pay. If I was Hindley, I would be very, very afraid.

Don’t mess with me!

Cathy wants to have fun, but Heathcliff only wants revenge! Cathy does finally convince him and they ride off together. The two play together with Heathcliff pretending to be Cathy’s prince, and it is a super cute scene that really gives you a view into their relationship and friendship.

Of course this isn’t a gothic story without some tragedy. Mr. Earnshaw dies and all happiness is gone from the home. Heathcliff wants to see Mr. Earnshaw, but Hindley is the master now and will not let Heathcliff. He also kicks Heathcliff out to the stables. Poor Heathcliff is sad and alone and crying. It breaks my heart-poor Heathcliff.

With Hindey as the master, the whole house is plunged into darkness and despair. Hindley and Cathy do well and are dressed well, with Heathcliff becoming Cinderfella, a slave-dressed in rags. Heathcliff listens and obeys, but you can see the rebellion in his eyes-he’s biding his time for one day…

Laurence Oliver is such a handsome man. You can pout him in dirt and rags, but he still is a shining star. 

As soon as Hindley leaves each day Heathcliff and Cathy are off to runningin the moors in their special place. Aw, they seem so sweet and happy together. Too bad it won’t last.

Cathy decides to try and “encourage” Heathcliff by insulting his appearance and manhood. She questions why he doesn’t just leave and go somewhere else. And I’m like, girl really? Why do you think he stays here?

Heathcliff is super romantic “I could never part from you”; while Cathy is all “get rich and come take me away.” The two are in two totally different mindsets with Heathcliff all focused on the emotional, and while Cathy is emotional she is also much more practical. The only way she will ever be able to leave Wuthering Heights, her brother, this despair; is through marriage. And the only way she get Hindley’s blessing or survive with nothing from him is if they have money.

Heathcliff begs her to run off with him now, but she declines. You know some people would say she doesn’t really love him or is just using him, but I like that she recognizes a life without privilege as a woman is hard and that is not the life for her. She wants to be with her love, but even more so she also wants to be taken care of. You know there is a big difference between being punished by your brother and sleeping in he stables for a night or two (which she has done) and having to live in stables because you have no money and no connections. Her practicality reminds me a lot of Charlotte in Pride and Prejudice, and her choice of money over love of Mr. Willoughby. Although she is much better than Mr. Willoughby as she made it clear to her partner what she needed and wasn’t running around taking advantage of others. Heathcliff is very Marianne in the way he doesn’t really think about what will happen next, how will they survive?

Heathcliff vows to stay and be treated cruelly if it means they can be together. He gives an oath, but Cathy ignores it as she hears music and goes to their neighbors the Lintons. The two hop a fence to get a closer look, but awaken the guard dogs. They try to hop back over the fence but one of the dogs runs at Cathy’s leg and injures her, Heathcliff being a fights the dogs off with his bare hands. WOW!

Soooo cute!!!!

The party come out and of course they take Cathy in and treat Heathcliff like dirt, trying to keep him from coming in-but he breaks through to se her. Everyone treats him horrible, and Cathy even tells him to go. Heathcliff is furious about his treatment and vows to leave, but will come back and bring ruin everyone’s head. I know we aren’t supposed to root for him as his quest to of vengeance on all these who have wronged him turns him into a crooked cruel man, but after the way they treated him I follow what he’s tracking.

Anyways, Heathcliff gives his strong amazing poetic vow to bring ruin to them all-and let me tell you Heathcliff has style. He knows how to command a room and do it right. He storms out in a powerful exit.

Wow!

Cathy recuperates at the Linton home and when she returns she has had a lot of her wild ways “calmed”. Cathy returns surprised to hear that Heathcliff isn’t gone. He tried but he couldn’t be away from her. Cathy cruelly insults him and shares that the Linton house was so much better. Heathcliff sees the divide between them and does not like this, storming out.

Edgar is such a pompous jerk and insults Heathcliff. Cathy does not like it; she is the only one who can demean him. Being back in the house the real her comes out and her wild ways have all come out. She yells and screams at Edgar Linton and kicks him out of the house.

Cathy then runs off to her room crying. She removes the Linton from her (taking off Isabelle Linton’s borrowed dress) and puts her old clothes on, old self, and runs to meet Heathcliff in their special spot. The wealthy items tossed for plain, showing Heathcliff she chooses him-but does she?

The two cling tighter on the hill, but all I can think is not for long, They pick heather, but while the scene is beautiful and romantic, like the flowers you know that this will not last forever.

Poor Edgar is not run off by Cathy’s bad behavior, he tries to win her by sending gifts and begs her to see him. Cathy agrees to have him over and she really enjoys the way she has manipulated him and all I can think is poor Edgar, poor little soul. Heathcliff has heard Edgar is coming over and he’s furious, even more so by the airs she puts on and stating that he has no control over her-he’s just a stable boy.

Cathy continues to break his heart calling him a beggar, dirty, etc He slaps her and leaves running right into Edgar. Oh no, things are going to get bad-but instead of fighting Heathcliff runs out into the rain to the stable. Morose and alone.

Heathcliff hides out in the stable until Edgar leaves. He returns to the house hands bloody from him trying to cute the “dirt and soil and lower class from them”. Nelly hides Heathcliff when Cathy comes down, as Heathcliff doesn’t want her to know how her words cut at his heart. But Cathy shares that Edgar asked her to marry him and that she loves him because he is handsome, rich, and pleasant. Nelly asks about Heathcliff, and Cathy shares she wished Heathcliff never came back. She wants to be free from the cold depressing life at Wuthering Heights and Edgar is the way for her to do it . They actually do Cathy a lot of injustice in this film, making her seem like a gold digger, when Hindley was horrible to live with. Cathy is a awful person, but she is in a horrible life and is trying to get out the only way she knows how.

Heathcliff runs away and Cathy follows trying to find him. Hindley comes home drunk and doesn’t care wanting to drink to celebrate the departure of Heathcliff. Edgar finds Cathy and brings her to his home.

Cathy recuperates at the Linton’s and Edgar does all her can for her. Poor guy, he’s so sweet and such a fool. He thinks that Cathy could actually love him and not just what he could provide for her-what a delusional man and a poor sad man. Cathy vows to be his wife and treat him well and that she will ever kiss another man (lies, all lies!)

The two are married and Catherine has everything she ever wanted: free from Wuthering Heights, among people who do not like confrontation and are always pleasant, the leading lady of the area, money, power, status, …yet she isn’t happy. Something unsettles her. Something cold is coming…

Cathy loved being lady of the manor and living with the Linton’s. Edgar is trying to marry Isabella off, but she finds all the men weak and boring. A kind peaceful night is interrupted when an old lover returns. Heathcliff has returned from America with money. He wants to see Cathy and she refuses knowing that with their love she won’t be able to resist him. Love? Or obsession? Edgar, however, makes her see him. He’s so secure in his love and affections, what a fool.

Heathcliff walks in even more handsome than before, clothes, hair, and style. He gazes upon Cathy with love and desire in his eyes. They ask how he has become so wealthy and he tells them he claimed his “princely fortune,” reminding her of all they used to say in their games. He also drops a bigger emotional bomb; he is the owner of Wuthering Heights. Hindley is a drunken fool that gambled everything away.

Step one of his revenge plot had started. Step two and three is to destroy Edgar and Cathy Linton. Now I feel for Edgar but he is also such a pompous jerk that he makes me want to slap him. He goes on about poor Hindley losing his home, him having his property stolen. It wasn’t stolen from him, he held it in so little esteem that he gambled it away. That’s life, plus Hindley is one if the most horrible people in this book (he’s not as present in the film) so I don’t gel bad. If it was me I would have kicked him out. Heathcliff actually acts with way more class that Edgar has and leaves.

Oh no, Isabella has fallen for Heathcliff and defends him against her brother and sister-in-law. Edgar tries to stop it, but is too late. She can’t resist that bad boy “that just needs love to fix him”. Don’t do it Isabella, don’t do it!

From Laura

Wuthering Heights is now Heathcliff’s home and he lets Hindley stay, but he has to be in the stables, just like when Heathcliff was a boy. My how have the turntables turned?

Oliver looks so hot in this film, he’s too distracting in his long coat. His intense gaze is so hypnotic I can’t look away. I don’t even know what he is saying; I’m lost in his dreaminess.

The business is interrupted when a lady comes to see him. He thinks it will be Cathy but is disappointed to see Isabella. Isabella came to the house as she was riding in the moors and her “horse went lame” and she “just happened” to be nearby. Poor foolish Isabella. She has this imagined view of who she thinks Heathcliff is, silly girl.

Isabella tries to endear herself to Heathcliff letting him know that she defended him, she cares for him, she can help heal his broken heart. She just lays it all out, shoots her shot. Poor romantic fool. Heathcliff recognizes what is really happening, he did from the beginning, and calls her out. Unfortunately he knows being with Isabella will help his revenge and woos her to get back at Edgar for his treatment and at Cathy for marrying another. Heathcliff don’t you know a path of revenge will only be a sad and troubled road.

The next scene the Linton’s are having a party and Heathcliff waltzes in, being the fine looking man he is. Isabella cheers and is so pleased to see him. Poor foolish girl.

At the party all Heathcliff can do is stare at Cathy and it takes every ounce of willpower for her not to stare back, often breaking as she cannot resist him.

Isabella waltzes with someone and Cathy and Heathcliff sneak away to talk. He tries to get her to admit she cares for him, but she refuses. She insists she loves Edgar and only him, but Cathy is not a good liar-anyone can see that isn’t true. The two have a line here when he tells her he came because she willed him to come from across the sea. Again I never noticed it before but again is very similar to The Great Gatsby. Gatsby thinks the same thing looking at her green light imagining it is a secret sign for the two of them.

Heathcliff: If he loved you with all the power of his soul for a whole lifetime he couldn’t love you as much as I do in a single day. Not he. Not the world. Not even you, Cathy, can come between us.

Cathy: Heathcliff, you must go away. You must leave this house and never come back to it. I never want to see your face again or listen to your voice again as long as I live.

Heathcliff: You lie! Why do you think I’m here tonight? Because you willed it. You willed me here across the sea.

That night Cathy comes to talk to Isabella and Isabella won’t listen. Cathy tries to warn her that Heathcliff doesn’t care and is just using her, but Cathy comes in yelling and screaming and just sounding like a jealous shrew, and she is jealous. Its so obvious to everyone watching, even to Edgar.

Cathy returns home and speaks to Edgar, but they are too late. Isabella has left and eloped with Heathcliff. Edgar is resigned and Cathy is crazed begging him to stop the wedding-killing Heathclff if necessary and for the first tim Edgar sees that he never really knew Cathy and is seeing her for the first time.

Unfortunately, poor Isabella gets no fairy tale ending- just darkness, despair, and decrepitness. Her innocence, lightness, gayess, etc all gone. The doctor tries to get Isabella to go home, letting her know that Cathy is sick and dying. Isabella is glad at that news, shocking the doctor as she thinks with Cathy gone they might have a chance of happiness.

Poor Isabella, she deserved better. She tries so hard to get his love, but gets nothing. He treats her bad because she isn’t Cathy, ignoring her and not treating her like the pretty little doll everyone did. Instead of pushing her away it makes her more clingy and desperate, what Heathcliff can’t stand.

Nelly comes to get Isabella as Cathy is dying and Isabella does not care. But Heathcliff run to his lady love. Cathy is dying and the one place she truly wants to be, with Heathciff.

Heathcliff storms into the house and runs to his lady love who is wasting away. Cathy dies but befoe she goes they kiss (she broke her vow). Heathcliff spurts out in anger releasing all that has fueled him through the years. Angry she choose money over love, she choose Edgar the unpassionate, etc. He throws curses.

We then bounce back to the present as Nelly finishes her story. Mr. Lockwood still doesn’t believe them. The doctor comes to see Hindley and shares he saw Heathcliff out there in the snow with a woman, but when he caught up to them he only found Heathcliff’s body. Yes, Heathcliff and Cathy are finally reunited in death.

So this film was very well written and had an amazing cast. They did cut out a lot of the book and removed the massive amount of cruelty these people inflict on each other to instead focus more on the romance. If you love gothic films and Wuthering Heights, you should definitely give this a watch. If you love gothic films and Wuthering Heights, you should definitely give this a watch.

So that is it for the first post of Horrorfest X. It was quite a challenge as all technology was failing me-it I will persevere. Stay tuned for more!

The usual Facebook cover I make. 🙂

For more on Wuthering Heights, go to Shame Book Tag

For more Laurence Olivier, go to Last Night I Dreamt I Went to Manderley Again: Rebecca (1940)

For more gothic films, go to Are You Prepared to Encounter All of Its Horrors?…Let’s Just Say That All Houses Have Their Secrets, and Northanger is No Exception.: Northanger Abbey (2007)

For more on Catherine Morland’s Viewing List, go to He’s Married to a Corpse. He Has a Corpse Bride!: Corpse Bride (2005)

For more Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans, Walking on Sunshine (2014)

Catherine Morland’s Viewing List

Happy Friday the 13th! I don’t know if you have any plans, but as for me I’m going to spend my evening with pizza and horror films.

Speaking of Horror films I have been getting ready trying to pick out which ones I’ll use for Horrorfest X, my yearly Halloween countdown, but I’ve also been going through old posts and looking at the ones from the original Horrorfest, and thinking some of these movies Catherine Morland would love as they are full of gothic-y goodness.

Unfortunately, while they occasionally have Austen tendencies and can go on my Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans list, like Rebecca, the ones I’m thinking of are more like Catherine Morland’s Reading Listthey don’t have anything to do with Jane Austen but are gothic stories Catherine would love.

Hmm…

Then I thought, why not start a new series, a list of only the good Gothic like horror films for the other Catherine Morland/Henry Tilney spooky people out there? It will only contain movies that I strongly recommend-none of the films that are poorly written or have a lot of issues. And unlike my other lists, this will be a one stop list for people looking for recommendations, while the original posts will only be done during Horrorfest.

So films on this list are going to be Gothic films or films with Gothic components. For those who are wondering what classifies something as a Gothic, here is the definition.

Gothic fiction, which is largely known by the subgenre of Gothic horror, is a genre or mode of literature and film that combines fiction and horror, death, and at times romance.

Any films I have already reviewed that fit for this list I will just list and link here, while any future film I review I will add a little specifically why it belongs on this list. I have 9 years of films I have watched/reviewed for Horrorfest, but I’m not sure how many of those will be on her. For now I’m going to put on the ones I have recently re-edited, and then will be adding more constantly. If you are looking for recommendations, be sure to check back for more:

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

Frankenstein (1931)

The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

The Cat and the Canary (1939)

Rebecca (1940)

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1949)

The Bad Seed (1956)

Psycho (1960)

Carnival of Souls (1962)

Fahrenheit 451 (1966)

Dead Again (1991)

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (2005)

The Corpse Bride (2005)

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant (2009)

Northanger Abbey (2007)

For more movie lists, go to Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans

Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Night Gardener

What is Catherine Morland’s Reading ListThe idea came mostly from the fact that I am a huge Gothic fiction/mystery fan. Before I met Jane Austen I devoured books, (and I still do), that I know, if Catherine Morland was real and alive, she would be reading or interested in reading.

It started with one review, and then before I knew it I had a list of thirty I was planning on reviewing. What can I say, other than:

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

So I have been wanting to read this book FOREVER. But every time I would check it out, I wouldn’t get a chance-I’d have too many books checked out, things happened, I’m too busy, etc-and I would have to return it.

Finally the stars aligned and I was able to read it. The book is written for middle schoolers and a quick read-made even quicker by the fact that as soon as I started reading it, it sucked me in.

I can’t put the book down

The book takes place during the Irish Potato Famine and two siblings emigrate from Ireland to England to work at a country estate: Kip and Molly. Molly is older and made the arrangements to work, job they are in dire need of as their parents are dead (something Molly has kept hidden from Kip). Molly uses stories to distract and cheer Kip, who is gifted with a green thumb, but suffers from lame leg.

As they travel to the Windsor manor they get stopped by a gypsy fortune teller who tells them the house they are going to is haunted.

Yes, years ago when the current Master Windsor was a boy something killed his family, he was the only one to survive, escaping to family in London. It was very mysterious and strange, and many believe it to be ghosts, a monster, or something.

Kip starts wondering if there is truth to the tales, but Molly ignores it. It can’t be true, she needs it to be not be true as they need these jobs.

Please, oh please! from Death Comes to Pemberley

When they get there, the house is nothing like Molly thought it would be. The house is beautiful but dirty and not kept up at all-things look like they haven’t been washed in forever, there is dust and dirt everywhere, etc.

Haunted house!

There is also a giant, black, gnarled, tree that is connected to the house, as if it grew into it or the house was built into the tree. Looking at it, it makes both Molly and Kip uncomfortable-although they are not sure why.

The family is very unusual, cold, and greedy. Mr. Windsor stutters, has no gumption, and is a pale dark haired man who is constantly trying to get money. He has a secret study that no one is allowed to enter. Constance is cold and harsh toward the “help” as she calls them, in fact she won’t let Kip in the house as her family might catch what he has and become cripples too (her word). She was used to the fine life in London and misses it. She has a ton of rings on her fingers and always seems to be getting more somehow. Very odd as the Windsor family complains about a lack of funds.

Hmm…

The son Alistair is greedy boy who is always eating candy and is cruel to his sister. But where does he get this candy from. He has dark hair like his father and mother.

Penny is the youngest and is greedy for stories and attention, but otherwise is a good child. She is enthralled with Molly’s copper hair, something she used to have. Molly thinks that is odd, even more so when she sees a portrait of them on the wall-all with bright skin, bright colored hair-nothing like the dour, dark haired, and ghostly pale skin they have now.

Hmm…

Kip starts working in the yard and loves growing things, but still feels unease about that tree. But there are things down in the yard he did not do. Things planted. But who could be doing that?

Hmm…

The longer they stay there the harder it is to leave. At night they have bad dreams and hear something stalking in the night. Penny tells Molly of a night man in the house clomping through and going outside. Molly doesn’t believe her…at first, but then one night, she is sneaking her brother into the house and the two see a man-a ghostly, creepy, scary man who works on the yard but espechially with the dark and disturbing tree.

Creepy…

Then Molly discovers a secret. The tree in the house grants you a wish of your heart-but once given it is impossible to stop going back. Constance Windsor had a ring that was worth nothing, but given before Mr. Windsor made money. He sold it when they needed funds and the tree gave her a copy, and she can’t stop trying to get it back.

Alistair’s favorite memory was when his father and him spent the day together and went to a candy store. He can’t stop getting or eating candy, trying to relive the memory. Penny has special books that are stories about her. For Molly she gets letters from her parents, letters that tell of the same stories she has been feeding her brother.

Wow!

But Molly quickly learns to be careful for what you wish for as the price might be more than you want to pay. She too finds herself becoming bound to the tree, her copper hair and imaginative self being sucked away as she waits for more letters. Will Molly and Kip be able to save themselves and the Windsor family? Or will they meet their end?

Hmmm…

I LOVED this book. It was so spooky and reminded me of other Gothic tales I grew up reading. I espechially loved the imagery of the tree feeding on them, stealing their souls essentially, taking from them and they know it is feeding off them-but they can’t stop it.

Creepy…

It was extremely spooky and creepy-just how I like it.

For more from Catherine Morland’s Reading List, go to Secrets of the Heart

For more Gothic Fiction, go to House of Salt and Sorrows

Catherine Morland’s Reading List: Secrets of the Heart

What is Catherine Morland’s Reading List? The idea came mostly from the fact that I am a huge Gothic fiction/mystery fan. Before I met Jane Austen I devoured books, (and I still do), that I know, if Catherine Morland was real and alive, she would be reading or interested in reading.

It started with one review, and then before I knew it I had a list of thirty I was planning on reviewing. What can I say, other than:

Secrets of the Heart (The Ravensmoore Chronicles #1) by Jillian Kent

This book is also a Non-Austen Read for Austen Readers.

Madeline Whittington is the daughter of the deceased Earl of Richfield. She has been deeply depressed and heartbroken since her father’s passing, along with her siblings’ passing, and has just ended a year-long period of mourning. Her best friend, Hallie, Lady Gilling, a widow, is trying to get her out and about but Madeline is still suffering.

Life is grey…

Devlin Greyson, is also suffering, but not deaths but from people bullying him and not wanting to befriend him because of his new title, Earl of Ravensmore. As the second son, Devlin had never planned to be the Earl, but instead wanted to pursue his dream of being a doctor. After his brother passed, he received the title, and to the chagrin of the ton he has decided to forgo what is expected and continue his doctoral studies.

Madeline is feeling lost and spends her days meandering the property by walking or on horseback. She is deeply troubled when she discovers a a mute girl on her property that looks as if she has been suffering from terrible things, she decides to help her-hiding and feeding “Brown Eyes”. This gives her something new to devote her attention to as home is not so pleasant with her mother’s new beau, Lord Vale. Lord Vale claims to be her late father’s friend, but Madeline doesn’t know him or trust him and she has a bad feeling about him. He is just too slimy and creepy.

Madeline continues in this despondent way, not going to any parties or events as she doesn’t want to be involved with what the ton likes. The grief she encountered from the loss of her family coupled with seeing the heartbreak her mother faced, she never wants to be married, but then what is left for her? What should she do with her life?

Hallie doesn’t mind her friend wanting to do something else, but is worried over her despondency and hoping to spark some light in her, she has invites her to join the latest hunt. Although Madeline is not into hunting, she agrees to go as she enjoys horseback riding. During the hunt Madeline gets injured and Devlin is introduced and looks in on her as she has injured her arm, but Madeline is not having it. She wants zero to do with Devlin as he killed her father.

Relax, Devlin is not a murderer, but he was the physician-in-training who was unable to help as her father arrived too far gone.  Devlin instantly falls for Madeleine, but is unable to start any relationship with her as she hates the very sight of him. She’d rather be concussed and lying on a field with a broken arm than receive any help from him. In fact she only gets treatment because of the insistence of her friends.

Wow!

So this wouldn’t be a gothic novel if it didn’t have a creepy building and the creepy building in this one is Ashcroft Asylum. The Asylum is located behind Madeline’s home and guess which creepy dude is in on board and in charge of a lot of asylum decisions? Lord Vale.

One day when Lord Vale is visiting the Countess, Madeline’s mother, he talks about a missing mute murderess, a child. Madeleine figures out it is “Brown Eyes”, but doesn’t believe him as the girl is so nice. Madeleine does all she can, but unfortunately the little girl is discovered and sent back to the creepy Asylum.

Creepy…

Ashcroft Asylum continues its creepy grasp as it holds dread for Devlin as well. His mother went insane and his father sent her away to the asylum where she passed away. Devlin does all he can to stay far away from it, and the fear of mental illness has a strong grip on him.

One day he can no longer avoid it as his school gets a call that the asylum is in need of medical assistance and his instructor volunteers Devlin. When Devlin looks at the wounded inmates, he feels very suspicious of the “self-inflected” wounds, they have but without any concrete proof nothing can be done. Fearing that there is something not right going on in the facility, he decides to tell his instructor and have him check up on it.

Hmm…

Hallie and Madeline run into Devlin and his fellow trainee Melton repeatedly, with Hallie and Melton being very interested in each other, but Madeline doing all she can to get rid of Devlin. Devlin honors her requests as a suitor, but as a doctor he feels he must check up on her health after the horseback riding incident, and then a later carriage accident. On one such visit to see that her arm is healing properly, the two go horseback riding (Madeline’s insistence) and when they return they discover Madeleine’s mother is gone!

She has eloped with Lord Vale to Gretna Greene.

They run after them, but are too late. They have been married and Madeline has a wicked stepfather. Madeline becomes so angry at it all, that when Devlin goes to check on her mental and physical state he discovers she has a gun, one she had wanted to use to keep Vale from marrying her mother. Devlin comforts her and helps her return home, but his visits stop as he will be busy with the upcoming tests to complete his training, leaving her alone in her thoughts.

Vale and her mother return and Vale slimily slips into every part of their lives, taking over. He even volunteers Madeline to help at the asylum, teaching two young boys who are awaiting transport. In doing so Madeline starts to see what really goes on in the asylum: uncleanliness, lack of food being given to the inmates, etc. Vale “listens” and agrees to consider her requests of going through the head of the Asylum’s practices and having  doctor check the inmates, but his compliance seems very out of character and as benefactor, does he really not know what is going on?

Hmm…

Madeleine finds herself attracted to Devlin, and turning to her with her problems, but she still doesn’t want to be with him if he is a doctor. She insists Devlin tell her what happened with her father, and when he reveals the truth, he wasn’t too far gone it turned out that her father didn’t like how tight the tourniquet was and when the doctors were busy with other patients, he loosened it and bleed to death.

From The Wolf Man (1941)

Madeleine is furious at this statement and refuses to believe him. She tells Devlin she never wants to see him again and refuses letters, calls,  etc. all contact from him.

Of him

Madeline continues to fall into depression and melancholia.

Life is grey…from Anna Karenina (1948)

Then Madeleine’s mother grows very sick wasting away. Madeleine immediately grows suspicious of Vale and tries to get her away and send for Devlin. When Vale uncovers this, he sends her packing to the asylum.

In the asylum she encounters the horrors of the asylum:

The Wolfman (2010)

She also finds out the deep secrets that lie in the asylum and has to fall victim to the horrors of the asylum, Will she get out, or be stuck in the dreaded place forever?

Hmm…

Will her mother be saved, or will she die by the plotting of the dastardly Vale?

Hmmm…

And what terrible secrets does the asylum hold?

Hmm…

So this was a really interesting book as it talked a lot about grief and depression, and showed realistic reactions to it. I used to work with grieving people and we see parents and children hating doctors after their loved ones died, depression, isolation, wanting to not be involved romantically because of fear, pushing away from new people, starting a new relationship (the mother), etc. It’s actually nice to read about her being lost and confused but trying to journey through.

The conditions of the asylum were truly terrifying. And the way that people could so easily be thrown in one, made me think of The Woman in White. (An amazing book, you should definitely check out!).

This is of course a romance, so the end was a bit quickly resolved in a happy way but I still enjoyed it. I thought it was cute and mysterious.

This is also a Non-Austen Read for Austen Readers as the character of Madeliene reminds me of Marianne Dashwood. Like Madeleine, Marianne has just encountered the death of her father and her whole world changed. With the estate entailed she and her sister lose their house, some of the furnishings, friendships, position in society, and have to move to a place rented to them out of the kindness of their hearts. Like Madeleine she is a whirlwind of passion and emotion, and also like Madeliene rejects a suitor adamantly. Madeline rejects Devlin believing him to have killed her father ad hating all doctors in general, while Marianne thinks Colonel Brandon is too old and not passionate-yet they both end up with those guys who patiently love them from afar.

As I said a good book to read.

For more from Catherine Morland’s Reading List, go to Cat Burglar Black

For more Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers, go to Homespun Bride

For more Gothic Fiction, go to The Poison Diaries

For more stories with asylums, go to Trapped in a Mansion in the Middle of Nowhere with a Psycho: The Cat and the Canary (1939)

Catherine Morland’s Reading List: Cat Burglar Black

I was reorganizing the library’s young adult graphic novels and came across this book. It has a gothic and spooky old house, a secret society, a mysteriously hidden treasure, and teens being trained to be a part of a thieving ring.

Of course it sounded right up my alley.

And not just perfect for me, but for someone else…Catherine Morland. Yep, another book for Catherine Morland’s Reading List.

What is Catherine Morland’s Reading List? The idea came mostly from the fact that I am a huge Gothic fiction/mystery fan. Before I met Jane Austen, (and I still do), I devoured books that I know, if Catherine Morland was real and alive, she would have been reading.

It started with reading one, and then before I knew it I had a list of thirty I was planning on reviewing. What can I say, other than:

Cat Burglar Black by Richard Sala

We start off with Katherine “K” Westree dressed in all black with a mask, running at night from a wild boar.

We then go back three weeks earlier…K is a orphan who was placed in an orphanage run by a woman called Mother Claude, who was using the orphanage to create a ring of cat burglars, thieves, and pickpockets.

She forced the kids to do it, threatening and abusing them if they didn’t. If they tried to run away, she would hunt them down and force them back.

The were eventually found out and all the children sent to reform school. After K served her time she stayed on as a live-in counselor for the younger children. She was then located by her aunt who had been searching for her, and her aunt invited her to live with her at Bellsong Academy, a spooky gothic mansion.

Haunted house!

When she arrives at the Academy things are not as she expected. Apparently the school has lost funding and there are only three students there at this time, orphans who have nowhere else to go: Dory, Morrow and Zel. And it turns out that she can’t see her aunt as she is deathly ill and fully covered in bandages.

Now this made my radar go off. Anytime people are all covered up in bandages like that, it means they aren’t who they really say they are. That’s not her aunt, something must have happened to her.

Hmm…

The people running the academy are  the headmistress Mrs. Turtledove, teacher Dr. Kuvac, teacher Mr. Dell, and teacher Mr. Fahr. There also is a very creepy handyman who goes by Stump and the housekeeper Ms. Mund.

Everything seems off with the other girls and the faculty. And then K hears a voice in the wall warning her that she is being watched. Definitely creepy!

SUPER creeped

That night K sneaks out of her room ad uses all her training to try to get in her Aunt’s room, but is caught by the other girls as they have been watching her. It turns out the school is another thief ring,  but an “old, established” one called The Obtainers. Her mother and father were a part of it, and her aunt as well.

K’s father chose to leave the group when she was little and took K with him, that’s why she was never a part of it until now. The rest of the ring are glad she is here as she is incredibly talented and they need her help. Bellsong Academy originally belonged to the Quinn family. When Anodyne Quinn inherited the house she discovered that her family fortune came from pirating, she was deeply ashamed she had been benefiting from stealing from others. She decided to give back by opening the Bellsong Academy, the first woman’s college west of the Rockies. After she passed she left provisions so that it would continue on. There is a rumor of treasure hidden somewhere on campus and no on has ever found it.

Hmm…treasure?

The other thing she left behind was three paintings-one in her youth, one in middle age, and the third as an older woman posing with the graduation class. Each painting was given to a separate family in the neighboring village, they were given a large sum every year-and all they have to do is put their painting on display. The map to the treasure is rumored to be found within those three paintings.

Rebecca (1940)

K finds this extremely odd that they need her to “borrow” them, and I agree. Like if they are this all important and amazing league of thieves why haven’t they done it already?

I mean for real!

K isn’t interested but they insist they need it to keep the academy going and to pay for her aunt’s care. The other girls try to convince her as they give her the grand tour of the property-old time fountains, a sun dial, a “haunted cabin”, a prehistoric sinkhole, and share the stories of the serial killer, “The Moon Killer”, who was rumored to run around the woods.

Spooky…

K decides to train with them, as why not what else has she to do, and they have a practice room right out of a superhero comic. K outshines them all and that night joins them as they break into the first house.

Each house is eccentric and when they leave they are missing a girl. Did they decide to take off and get their freedom? Were they captured? Is The Moon Killer back? Is there something nefarious going on in those houses?

Hmm…

K manages to score every painting and starts putting the clues together. But finding hidden treasure isn’t the only surprise she will discover.

This was really interesting mystery/gothic tale and I liked the character K and the twist ending at the end. I had figured out half of it, but the other half surprised me.

Wow!

The only thing I don’t like is that we never find out what happened to the other girls. I searched but it doesn’t appear that Sala wrote a sequel. I guess it will be an unsolved mystery.

We’ll never know.

I really enjoyed the the style of it too, it has an Edward Gorey feel to it, and I just love Edward Gorey. I recommend reading it even if it has a few loose ends.

For more from Catherine Morland’s Reading List, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Poison Diaries

For more mysteries, go to Creepy Demon Mask & Haunted Hampstead Heath House of Horrors!

For more Gothic fiction, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: House of Salt and Sorrows