So the idea of Catherine Morland’s Reading List came mostly from the fact that I am a huge Gothic fiction/mystery fan. Before I met Jane Austen I devoured all these books that I know, if Catherine was 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 eventually reviewing. What can I say…
The next book I think Catherine Morland would read is…
The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
I read The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton and really enjoyed it. I was shelving books in the library and spotted this book and it called to me, you know like books do. I picked it up and knew I had to read it, as it is perfect to add to this list.
So first of all this book is amazing in how it was printed. The cover pages are set up like the cover pages of old books, looking like they are worn, torn, folded, etc. The prologue begins with a snippet from gothic story, The Mud Man, and I was instantly hooked.
This story is a Gothic Novel Lovers dream! It has a scattering of references to other novels, like the trail of breadcrumbs Hansel and Gretel left-this one leading you to the conclusion.
W have the prologue of the Mud Man and I wish it was a real book. It is so creepy!
The book is told between a few different timelines, we have 1992 (present) and 1940s (past). The story starts off with our main character narrating the story, reminiscent of Wuthering Heights, which continues as she tries to search for the truth of a family secret, just like how the main character does there.
I’m telling you, this is like Gothic Novel bingo!
Edie works for a book publisher as she loves reading. It is very small and starting to die out, only saved by Edie’s moxie as she doesn’t really want to start over.
So it starts off with an unlikely beginning, (after the Mud Man story). Back in WWII a postman became a bit too inebriated and forgot to mail a bag of letters. Said bag was discovered years later, with it becoming a huge story in the media.
Edie’s mother was one of the people who received a letter, but instead of being happy about the missive that went away she became extremely upset about it, and asked Edie to leave.
Edie forgets all about it until she heads to Kent to sign an author. There she passes this amazing castle, Milderhurst Castle, the owner being Raymond Blythe-the author of Edie’s favorite book, The Mud Man.
She purchases a copy of The Mud Man and another book on the history of the Blythes, and when she hears of tours to the castle she heartily wants to do it!
However, the Blythe sisters don’t allow tours anymore as they are growing older and have a younger sister who has dementia. But for some strange reason they agree to let her.
Edie is fascinated by the castle, and the strange family. (There is this part where they talk about the tubes going through the castle like in the Vincent Price radio drama Fugue in C-Minor). But it isn’t until the younger sister Juniper calls her her mother’s name-that Edie is hooked!
Why did she think she was her mother? How does she know her mother?
What the heck?
Meanwhile, back in WWII the Blythe sisters are having some issues. The world may be at war, but they are too.
The elder sister Percy loves the castle, as if it was a part of her. She doesn’t want any thing to happen to it, and will do anything and everything she can to keep it going. She especially doesn’t want her sisters to leave as she has no knowledge or use for cooking, laundry, or any thing that really keeps the castle going and with no money to do it she needs her younger sister.
The middle daughter Saffy dreams of being a writer, a nanny, a research assistant, pretty much anything if she can get to London. But every time she tries to go-her twin Percy makes her stay. Poor girl, she’ll be stuck here forever.
Juniper is beautiful, intelligent, talented, the whole package. But she needs to be cared for as her mood swings take her to dark, dark places; she seems almost manic depressive with her mood swings and possibly schizophrenic. She goes to London and wants to stay there and get married to an army officer, who happen to be Merry’s teacher.
Merry, Edie’s mother, did not want to leave London during the bombings in WWII. She cried the whole way on the train and was one of the last to be picked. She was saved when Juniper came storming in and claimed her for their house. Merry came from a lower middle class family and finds herself in a brand new world when she goes into the castle. Books upon books, a family that values daydreaming, writing, etc-all the things that Merry was looked down back at home for liking. She loved being in the castle so much that when her parents came to take her home, she didn’t want to go back. But she does have to…and while she still sees Juniper when she comes to the city, she developed a serious crush on her teacher turned soldier. When she finds out the two are getting married, she is heartbroken as she was sure he felt something for her.
Aw, that’s sad.
Like every castle, this one holds dark, deep secrets-generational secrets. Ones that Edie gets involved with. First she tries to figure out her mother’s connection to it, and then when her father is recuperating from a heart attack and bored-she reads to him The Mud Man and they begin searching what could have been the origin of the story.
She also gets asked to help write the new edition of The Mud Man, going back to the Castle and interviewing the ladies. Will she discover the secret to the idea of The Mud Man, why her mother is connected and upset over the past, and what really keeps those sisters anchored there?
This is a fantastic book, with amazing characters full of depth. If you like Gothic novels you will go ga-ga over this. You can clearly see how much the author loved gothic novels and loves books-she goes on and on about them (I clocked Wuthering Heights, The Yellow Wallpaper, Rebecca, etc.) This author is a spooky girl!
The end was is very cute with her father getting interested in reading fiction and novels after they read The Mud Man together.
And the twist of how the mud man came to be, the truth behind who the monster is-wow!
There were two things I didn’t like about this book though: there is a point in the third act where the book drags, I would have cut those pages as they didn’t really add to the story.
And there is a whole section about what did Juniper do that night? Everyone is scared as she is late coming home, covered in someone else’s blood, and coming out of a “mood”; but they never resolve it. What did she do that night?
The story, it’s happening to us now. We’re living it. It’s-it’s alive, it’s real, it’s breathing.
So remember way back in April, when I talked about how much I love the Brothers Grimm and all their stories?
Well for those of you who don’t, I loved them. I used to read the stories over and over and over again.
They are such a huge, huge part of my childhood. I not only read them, but I read like every version of their tales. Such as Shannon Hale’s The Goose Girl;The Princess Test by Gail Carson Levine; or The Rumplestilskin Problem by Vivian Vande Velde. And that’s just naming a few, I’ve read practically every version and retelling out there.
So when I saw a trailer for The Brothers Grimm I was so EXCITED! I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, I don’t even remember what the trailer was like. I just know if it had the Brothers Grimm’s name on it. I WAS THERE!!!!!!!!
My mom, sister, and went to see it and I thought…..
WHAT THE HECK IS THIS THING? THE BROTHERS GRIMM WHAT? THIS THING IS SO CREEPY I AM SCARRED FOR LIFE!!! SCARRED!!!
Needless to say I didn’t like it.
I didn’t understands half the things that were happening! I didn’t like most of the characters. And I thought it was one of the creepiest things I had ever seen. And I was like thirteen at the the time and saw many different films, but this one creeped me out. After a while, I kind of forgot about it, other than I liked Heath Ledger (he’s always awesome) and that I actually liked Matt Damon in this.
I know, I know. If you have been following you should be shocked at that statement as I have said quite a few times how much I dislike Matt Damon. I just think he is a horrible actor as he is the same in everything!! However, he was so different in this film that I actually forgot it was him. And that is what a good actor does, they melt away so all you see is their character on the screen.
Anyways, so time past and I completely forgot about this movie. That is until I saw it on Amazon Prime Instant Watch.
Amazon’s all watch this!
And I thought, hey, ten years have past. Maybe it’s time to give it another view.
And as I remember it being a horrorish/comedy film (what I call Com-Ror), I can totally review it for horrorfest. So here we go. I present to you:
So this film is actually a melting pot. It is a historical fiction, horror, comedy, and fantasy concoction.
And they actually work pretty well together.
So the film opens up with the poor Grimm family. The young sister is sick and they are all shivering from the cold as they have no more wood for a fire. Wilhelm, the oldest, is trying to be the man of the house and helping his mother while Jacob has gone out to sell the family cow. Instead of bringing back money, he has “magic beans”.
Poor, sweet, naive little Jacob. He was tricked into getting magic beans. The mom is sad, but Wilhelm becomes incensed and beats his brother.
I know we are barely into the film and already we have a dead father, soon-to-be dead sister, a boy tricked out of everything, and then one brother getting beat by the other. That’s a really dark opening scene for a family picture.
And by now you can kind of see the direction this film is taking. It is going to be the story pieces occurred in real life and lead to the collection of tales we have today. I have to say I was actually down with that. It could be pretty cool. The sort of prequel to Once Upon a Time or something.
We then have the title and a killer opening scene. SUPER DRAMATIC! And I loved it! Dark night, rain, two strangers on horses with a note demanding entrance!
It was AWESOME!!!!!!!!!
Anyways, it turns out that Wilhelm (Matt Damon), or Will as he is more often called, and Jacob (Heath Ledger), or Jake are ghost hunters/witch killers/ monster destroyers. Basically the 19th century version of Dean and Sam Winchester.
When I first saw this I was like what are you doing? I’m pretty sure that there were nothing like that. After watching I had to read up on them.
It turns out in real life that Jacob was actually the older brother. Their father did die when they were young and they had to take care of the family, eventually going to school for law. But later during the Romantic period, they began collecting folk tales, creating the classic literature we have today.
How did they go from that to:
This was one of the reasons I wasn’t really into this “modern”, twisted type of film, in fact a lot weren’t. This film was actually ahead of its time as if it had come out a few years ago (instead of 10) it would have fit right in with Red Riding Hood (2011), Snow White and the Hunstman (2012), The Raven (2012), Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012), and Hansel & Gretal: Witchhunters (2013). I mean look at that poster! Isn’t this something you would see today?
Eliminating Evil Since 1812 this is something you would definitely see today.
Anyways, back to the review. So the brothers are in Karlstadt to get rid of a witch menacing a mill. This is actually a pretty awesome scene as they fight the witch. I wish I could find a video. Oh well. This is kind of what it looked like:
So this witch comes at them and attacks. They try and destroy her, but she starts to control them and they start to fight with each other.
They fight, but Will manages to overcome it and kill the ghost. They get paid and all is well until we discover that the whole thing is fake. They hire two guys to play the monsters of the folk tales around the area, and then the Grimms come in and save the day by ridding the area of them.
You are taking folk historians and making them not only hunters but conmen.
Besides that, movie, I see what you’re doing.
This is going to be one of those films where they show a fake thing in the beginning that is going to be the direction the film goes to in the end. You know like in An American Werewolf in London, where he growls at himself in a mirror, only to later do the same things as a werewolf.
I guess we will just have to wait to see how it turns out.
So while in reality Jacob and Will were the best of friends, in this Will is extremely cruel.
When he goes to give Jacob his half of the money, his has to throw in one last dig.
Will: Your half professor, or would you like it in beans?
Come on Will, he was just a little boy!!!. He was trying to help!!!! Let it go!
So while they are celebrating and having fun, we cut to the village Marbaden. A girl in a little red cape is looking through the forest. Now the forest is amazing! It is exquisitely beautiful and terrifying. It looks just like something out of an illustration in a book or a painting. The film was worth it for those moments alone.
Anyways, the little girl becomes fightened and tries to outrun whatever it is, but doesn’t manage to and is taken.
So as the the guys are celebrating their sucess, Jacob starts to feel down. He was a scholar and is unhappy as to what he is doing now.
All I could think was why isn’t he a scholar anymore? Did he lose his job? Was it because of the French? Time for a history lesson!
So in 1837 the two lost their posts at the university of Göttingen as they went against King Ernest Augustus I who dissolved parliament and demanded oaths of allegiance from all employees. But this film takes place earlier than that…In the early 19th century, Napoleon was seizing control of the world and had gained Western Germany. It is logical that Jacob, being rather outspoken and prone to not always thinking before he speaks, refused to do something similar to what happened at Göttingen, and lost his position.
Anyways, Will has gone on to be with some bar maids, while Jacob is scribbling in his book when a man charges in. It is the famous Italian torturer, Mercurio Cavaldi. He takes them to see French General Delatombe who is strangely played by the same actor who plays Elizabeth Swann’s dad in Pirates of the Caribbean.
They have discovered that the Grimms are conmen, having captured their other workers, and tortured them And this movie spares nothing, showing the men upside down and covered in snails.
Yes, snails. I mean I hate snails and that would be torture to me, but is having snails on you really painful? Let’s look it up! And I found nothing so I’m unsure why they would do that.
Anyways, Delatombe demands to know where the 10 missing girls are. Jacob and Will have no clue what is going on.
Apparently someone has stolen 10 girls from the village of Marbaden. The French General doesn’t like that the German people are not listening and reverting back to their cultural ways. He sends the Grimms and their team to solve the mystery, or be killed. The Grimms heartily go.
Meanwhile, two siblings have decided to go looking for the missing girls, Hans and Greta (Hansel and Gretal). The forest steals Greta’s scarf away from her, using it to eventually lure her away and capture her.
Hans races home to find his father.
Back in the villlage the town has gathered and are telling the Grimm brothers everything that has happened. Who has disappered and how they have disappered.
As they are talking, Hans rushes in and relates what has happened. The Grimms are eager to get started and ask for a guide. They recommend the “cursed one”.
They go see the “cursed one”, who turns out to be Angelika. Her father was a great woodsman, but died last year in the winter snow, although a body was never recovered. Her two sisters were the first to be taken, hence making her “cursed”.
Angelika doesn’t want to help, but the torturous Calvadi convinces her, by almost killing her with a knife. And then he starts hitting on her in the nastiest way. He’s just ew!
So with all parties in accord they journey into the forbidden forest.
Now I just want to stop and say that I really like that while the film is predominately English (of course) there is quite a lot of dialogue spoken in French and German. I like when movies do that. Good going guys.
Take note Hollywood
Back to the forest. Will is totally in his role saying how he “feels” things and can “sense” things.
And Jacob is all, whatever Will.
But he loves the forest as it seems as if all those stories he’s studied over the years are finally coming alive. In fact he believes that this particular story they are in is about King Childeric I’s beautiful Queen. She was the fairest of all, and cared only about herself. When the black plague came, she built a tower high above the forest and the dying people. Unfortunately she still caught it, but tried to use black magic to overcome it and live forever. The spell worked, but instead of remaining beautiful, she aged.
It has been over 500 years and Jacob believes that not only is she in the tower, but she is behind it all.
Will on the other hand thinks that is the stupidest thing he has ever heard
and that someone else is trying to con the villagers.
They find the tower in the woods, of which Angelika tells them that it was destroyed, but mysteriously grew back.
Some of the first creepy things we see are all these ugly black bugs coming out of stuff. It’s like The Mummy beetles or something. Then the trees keep moving all around. If that was me I’d want to get out of there asap.
So far we have had beetles, creepy trees, and now birds. Creepy birds right out of a Hitchcock scene.
They want to leave and are trying to go, but can’t find the way as the trees have moved around.
While everyone is distracted, a wolf transforms into a person, the woodsman.
I guess a backwards wolfman?
And feeds one of the horses spiders. And guess which horse it is? Jacob’s.
He leaves and the Grimm team regroups eager to leave the forest. Angelika grabs a toad and talks to it, licking its belly so it will point the way.
At this point I was looking at Anjelika and thought, she looks really familiar. Where have I seen her before….?
So I looked her up and it was LENA HEADEY. Man that woman, I CAN NEVER RECOGNIZE HER. She looks different in like every movie she is in. From The Jungle Book, to The Brothers Grimm, to 300, to Dredd,to Game of Thrones; man I never would have realized her characters were played by the same person unless you lined them up next to each other. And probably not even then. You’re good Lena, real good.
So they make it back to the village. The Grimms are working as Cinderella’s in girls clothes, by orders of Calavadi.
I told you he was one real sicko.
Meanwhile, a little girl hears a voice calling her. She gets up to see where it is coming from and it turns out to be one of the horses making noises. She goes over to calm it down. ALONE!
Now this part always bothered me. We see how SUPER protective the father was of his daughter, and she knew that pretty much every girl has been captured and taken away, why would you do this alone? I would have woken up my father and been like I hear something come with me.
Now this part is truly disgusting with the horse. All these spiders come and make a web that grabs the girl, and the horse swallows her. The third most horrifying scene in this film.
It is so disgusting and horrible, but also very well done. The Grimm brothers and friends follow them and her and the forest is truly horrifying.
When the tree kills the man, just ouch.
Calvaldi believes that the Grimm brothers killed his men with the help of Angelika, and they all head back to see the General. Now this is the second most horrifying scene when they torture them, trying to get them to confess. They kill a kitten! A KITTEN! Why would they kill a cute orange kitten in this?
I mean seriously, what were you thinking?
They convince the General they will stop it and head back to the village.
Now in this moment I realized how much I absolutely love Jacob Grimm.
Jacob is a total fanboy!
He loves folk and fairy tales, and has studied them for so long.
And now he is actually in the story!! He gets to be the hero of his favorite thing to read!!! How awesome is that!!! That is like every fan’s dream. I know it was mine. There were so many places I always wanted to visit and so many tales I wanted to be the hero of. I AM JACOB.
Anyways so Jacob is really excited, but Will isn’t. In fact Will wants to take off and leave this all behind.
And what’s wrong with that? Doesn’t everyone?
Anyways, so Jacob tries to convince Angelika to help him out.
Will Grimm: Ignore him. He wishes his whole life was something out of a book. And now he thinks he’s in love.
Jacob Grimm: Shut up, Will!
Will Grimm: Angelika, do what your father wanted: leave the village now.
Angelika: No, Will. I’m gonna find my sisters.
Jacob Grimm: Will doesn’t care about them. Will doesn’t care about anything but himself!
Will Grimm: This isn’t a fairy tale. They are not coming back!
Jacob Grimm: This is not your world, Will! [to Angelika] Angelika, you know, don’t you? The story, it’s happening to us now. We’re living it. It’s-it’s alive, it’s real, it’s breathing. And we can give it a happy ending.
Jacob Grimm: Angelika, we’ll find your sisters. All right? We’ll bring them back.
Will Grimm: [getting angry] Bring back her sisters? [kicks Jacob] Bring them back? Bring them back with what? Magic beans?
Jacob Grimm: Why do you say that?
Will Grimm: Magic beans don’t work! They don’t bring people back to life! They did not then and they will not now! You go wait by the horses! Jacob, wait by the horses!
Will is such a jerk, I totally want to punch him in the face!
Will talks to Angelika, but Jacob will not be deterred and he runs off to the forest to try and save the girls.
But Will chases after him.
When Jacob punched Will in the face finally I was so happy. Yeah!!!!
So now the brothers are back to being a team, but while they are doing that, back in the village comes the most horrifying scene ever. This is not for the weak of heart. I swear, this scene scarred me FOR LIFE! FOR LIFE!!!!
So Sasha is going to get water from the well, when a bird falls in and…I can’t do the scene justice, you’re just going to have to watch it yourself.
That ball of goo coming to life
Her face, eyes, and mouth melting away
Then this black blob has her face and mouth and starts following her
Then it goes inside and grabs her and eats her!
And turns into a cookie and runs away!!!
I am SCARRED FOR LIFE!!! It gave me nightmares, it made it impossible for me to eat gingerbread for a few years. And I wasn’t a little little kid when I saw this either. I was 13. This scene, it just
I have to move on now.
So the Grimms are in the forest. Will has helped get Jacob on top of the very high tower,
On the roof Jacob notices the coffins they saw before are numbered 12, like a clock.
Down below Will spots something strange in the water. It’s Sasha in a dress. He goes over to look at her, when the wolf comes.
He changes into a person and we see his face, seeing that it is Angelika’s dad!!! He goes over to Sasha and places her into a coffin. On her feet form glass slippers, and he takes one drop of blood, giving it to a raven to give to the queen upstairs.
In the mirror she looks beautiful and young, but in reality she is an old skeleton.
She starts to charm Jacob, while below Will has to deal with her woodsman.
The whole breaking the mirror destroys the power of the witch reminds me of The Picture of Dorian Gray. The only way to kill Dorian was to destroy his picture, the only way to kill this witch, break the mirror.
They run back to the village with Sasha, Will being the one to kiss the frog to find out the way. When they get there, Sasha is prounounced dead as she isn’t breathing, even though Will saw her walk to the coffin. While they are trying to figure things out who should show up but the French General and a mass of troops.
They declare that the Grimms are really behind it all, having killed their two workers who “confessed” it all.
They decide they are going to burn down the forest and the Grimm brothers. As they are tied up and ready to start the pyre, they toss in Jacob’s book, his collection of tales. All I could think was
NOT THE BOOOOOOOOOOOKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anjelika has been able to free herself and she goes and saves the boys from being burnt to a crisp. Jacob tries to save his book, but Will drags him off as his life is more important.
NOT THE BOOKS!!!!
Now the Queen doesn’t appreciate anyone trying to destroy her home and sends out some magic that not only stops the flames, but takes out a few guys as well.
When the get into the forrest they run into the wolfman/huntsman who reveals to Angelika that he is her father. He was dying in the forest when the Queen found him and saved him. He is in love with her and would do anything for her. Even sacrificing his own children.
Not only did he take his two youngest girls first, but he snags Angelika to replace Sasha and complete the circle of 12.
I know he’s under a magic spell, but his OWN DAUGHTERS!!!
Will is totally unsure of what to do, while Jacob is in his element and has become even more attractive. Not only is set out on saving Angelika, but he also takes out the murderous General.
It must be nice for Jacob to be the hero for once, instead of Will.
I noticed something about the French, German, and Italians. Everyone who is not German is a crazy psychopath. We have the murderous, vain, evil Queen; the gloutton, tortourous, evil General; Calvadi the pervert and master of torture; and then the general’s right hand man just as crazy and creepy. I think it was on purpose, trying to show the way that the Germans thought of the invaders, how stereotyped and evil they are. It works for the film.
Jacob climbs up the tower to kill the queen, but the knife he picks up is enchanted and he ends up stuck to the wall. I know that he had no other weapon on hand, but come on! She’s an evil sorceress, anything in the room that belongs to her, chances are she can control them!!!
Will ends up following Jacob and when he gets there the Queen enchants the knives so that they have a duel to the death. (Just like I said they would)
I think that is a pretty jerk move to slip from the knife so you brother can kill you. I understand why you do it as it is the only way to free one of you and have him save the day, but it still is pretty mean.
As Jacob is trying to figure out what to do next, the Queen decides that dear old dad, is too old, and turns her attentions toward Will becoming her love slave. As she is turning Will, Jacob finally remembers the mirror and destroys it, killing the Queen.
So Jacob is the hero!
Jacob’s Hero List
Save the Girls ✓
Defeat the Evil Queen ✓
Save the Day ✓
Now if only he had a plan on how to get out of a crumbling castle.
He makes it out okay, but it looks like he celebrated prematurely. The girls are still dead, or really frozen in eternal sleep.
Spoke too soon
Jacob is lost in what to do, but Calavadi, who has now become a “Grimm-y”, tells him that in his home country there is a story of true love’s kiss waking the girl. Jacob goes to kiss Angelika, but Calvadi warns him that if the love is not true than Angelika will die!
Jacob goes for the kiss and…
The spell is broken. All the girls come out and are alive and well.
Jacob goes over to Will, but he’s not moving…
Spoke too soon
Jacob is heartbroken, but Calavadi reminds him that a kiss could wake him too. As Jacob goes, Will interupts him. Yep it turns out that Will the stinker is alive and fine. Angelika kisses him to “wake him up”; and then everyone returns to town. There the village throws a big party, happy to have everyone back.
Will Grimm: I’ve been thinking of an alternative career path.
Jacob Grimm: Will.
Will Grimm: One that uses all of our new expertise.
Jacob Grimm: Will.
Will Grimm: Now, I haven’t really sorted it yet…
Jacob Grimm: Will, Will, Will, listen. This is the real world. We’re-we’re men without a country, we’re enemies of the state, and worst of all we haven’t a single bean to our name.
Will Grimm: It’s a good name, though, isn’t it?
Jacob Grimm: It’s a damn good name. Let’s dance. Come on!
So how did I like it ten years later? I liked it. It made much more sense now that I was older and more used to this kind of film style. The CGI was pretty good for a 2000’s film, and the backgrounds were just beautiful. The story was so-so, but cute and funny, except for the three deranged parts. I don’t think this would be a movie I would purchase to add to my collection, but I definitely will re-watch it in the future.