Sentence of the Day, 3rd Thursday of 2022

As I sat there amongst the sleeping innocents of Bran, twenty years after reading “The Monkey’s Paw” and eleven years after the hospital, I became aware of a sound.

Castle Shade, p. 97

Self loves the backstory Laurie R. King gives Mary Russell (Her parents are killed in a car accident, leaving poor Mary all alone in the Big Bad World. She becomes an Oxford academic, etc), but why oh why do Holmes and Russell never show affection toward each other? For two people who are supposed to be married, self finds their behavior inexplicably . . . starchy. There is no reason for these two to be married if all they do is talk business? Which, frankly, is all they’ve done (so far) in Castle Shade.

Stay tuned.

Suspense!

Self adores the vampire references, the creepy castle. This book has a Gothic feel — are all the others like that? It’s her first Laurie R. King. She is prolific, Castle Shade is #17 in her Sherlock Holmes/Mary Russell series. The characters are charming (though hardly affectionate). Self loves the supernatural lore, and the historical context.

Slight digression: What a gorgeous day today was! The sun was out, strong and warm. There were no groups of wandering high schoolers on El Camino. Self wondered if schools had gone back to remote learning in light of omicron.

Chapter Nine

I wasn’t sure what had awakened me, but I had been dreaming. Dracula again, with horse-drawn carriages and dancing blue flames. I turned irritably on the pillow, puling it down under my head — and froze.

Was that wolves?

I jerked up from the pillow, straining to hear, feeling the ghostly stickiness of drying blood on my palms. A long minute ticked by . . . then yes, it came again, a distant howl, unearthly in the night.

Finally, They Arrive!

Holmes and Mary Russell arrive at their destination, a CREEPY CASTLE with a CREEPY, SUPERCILIOUS BUTLER (named Florescu, self is inclined to pronounce the name with a French accent)

Self is all agog. She only wishes Holmes and Mary Russell could behave like married people. Maybe not PDAs. But what is the POINT of having Sherlock Holmes MARRIED if he doesn’t behave like it?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Sentence of the Day, Third Friday of 2022

In Brasov, he had managed to claim a corner of what purported to be a first-class compartment, but if things grew worse when they reached Sinaia — as they had on his earlier such trip — he would have to consider some means of taking revenge on his brother.

Castle Shade, Chapter Nineteen

LOL LOL LOL

Holmes is on a separate trip from Mary, having received urgent summons from his brother Mycroft (apparently, their paths continually diverge, throughout this series. And neither of them, of course, seems the least bit put out if they do not see each other for weeks on end. Is this what Victorian marriages were like? How very dry!). Right after the sentence above, Holmes ruminates on his marriage (a very interesting passage. Say what you will, self thinks Holmes cuts a very romantic figure, especially when he broods)

On p. 129, there is finally a kiss, “on the side of the head,” from Holmes to Mary, as he prepares to take on his next assignment, which will entail his leaving her for who knows how long.

Self searches goodreads to see if there’s a follow-up book to this one. No, not yet. She finds this dynamic very interesting, despite the cool indifference between the two. All the reader’s frustrated hopes bust out of the Victorian corsets in the fan fiction.

Nosferatu!

“Holmes, did you see that?”

“I saw that the man was hiding something, yes.”

“No — I mean his teeth. When he smiled? The Queen’s butler has fangs!”

Castle Shade, p. 107

Silent scream silent scream silent scream

A Local Witch

Self is on p. 75. That should count for something. btw, she’s just discovered Sherlock Holmes/Mary Russell fan fic — so top caliber! There’s the May/December trope, the Having-a-Baby trope, the How-To-Be-a-Kickass-Detective-While-Pregnant trope, all kinds of tropes!

On p. 75, Mary and Sherlock go for a walk in the woods and find ‘apotropaic marks’ (i.e. ‘run away’ marks) on the trees around the home of a woman living in a wee cottage in the woods.

“Isn’t it odd that they let your Mrs. Varga live in the area, yet mark their paths and houses to drive her away?”

“Not necessarily . . . Although I do imagine they take care to ensure that she doesn’t stray into their private area.”

“Yet they ask her to heal their goats and, I don’t know — make their amulets? Help at childbirth?”

“Probably.”

“Isn’t that a bit like trusting the crocodile in your moat to let you go for a swim?”

“You of all people, Russell, should not be surprised at the lack of consistent logic in a system of belief.”

Self is really enjoying Castle Shade.

Stay tuned.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge (CFFC): Which Way by alive and trekking

Self is always happy when she can join in one of Cee’s photo challenges. CFFC’s theme for the next few weeks is ‘other photo challenges.’ This week’s ‘other photo challenge’ is alive and trekkings Which Way:

From alive and trekking:

  • The Which Way photo challenge is all about capturing the roads, walks, trails, rails, steps, signs, etc. we move from one place to another on. You can walk on them, climb them, drive them, ride on them, as long as the specific way is visible. Any angle of a bridge is acceptable as are any signs.

Here are two views of the rails and steps from Ocean Drive to Ocean Beach, Carmel.

Which One Is the Vampire?

This is a question self never imagined herself asking, never in the course of her very long reading life.

She asks it now because Queen Marie of Roumania is a very mysterious person.

There have been hints that it is she: she is the vampire.

Here are the facts: Whenever the Queen spends time in her summer home, Castle Bran, people die or go missing. Once, “a twelve-year-old scullery maid was preparing vegetables in the castle kitchen and sliced open her hand . . . the Queen was passing and heard the child cry out. She went to see what was wrong, seized a bowl to protect the child’s clothing, and started to bind the injury with a dishcloth.”

People who happened upon the scene saw this: “a young girl bleeding copiously into a crockery bowl . . . apparently half-filled with blood.”

As soon as the Queen left at the end of the summer, the series of occurrences ceased.

Further, whenever the Queen is expected, a man goes about the village, instructing the villagers that their dogs should be kept “inside or tied.” The Queen likes to go riding, and if a dog happens to frighten “her horse and makes her fall, that dog will be shot and the family will go to prison.”

Self is completely hooked on this combination vampire/Sherlock Holmes mystery!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Riding on Trains with Holmes

Self has been reading this book for a few days, and she’s only at p. 30. Why? In general, her reading pace seems to have slowed (Six books a month is her average). Perhaps because the past holidays made her broody? She means, broodier than usual? Pandemic Year 2 was a rough year.

In the past 30 pages, Holmes and Russell are (ostensibly married, though they haven’t touched each other once — guess theirs is a marriage of the minds!) on a train. They’ve been on a train since p. 1. While our two leads are riding trains, self had ample opportunity to learn about:

  • vampires
  • Castle Bran
  • Queen Marie of Romania

In fact, she looked up pictures of Castle Bran on Instagram. It exists! And what a name for a castle. (She keeps thinking of Bram Stoker)

Then she googled “Queen Marie of Romania” and found that the Queen died of cirrhosis at 63. Oops. Not quite the image self got from Castle Shade! Her eldest son usurped the throne and made her a virtual prisoner. That must have broken her. She was a smart woman, much smarter than her husband. The Rumanians loved her. Life just isn’t fair.

Meanwhile, there is no indication from p. 30 that this train journey is approaching an end. Which is just fantastic, as our two mains get to discuss Mycroft (Though self hasn’t read a Sherlock Holmes mystery in decades, she does know who Mycroft is!). Oh, and here’s a passage about time passing on trains. Self really likes the way Laurie R. King describes it:

We rode the train — indeed, we rode a number of trains — for what seemed like days. We passed through cities, mountains, farmland, while the restless fever rose again and pulled me into sleep. I would wake, and follow Holmes into the restaurant car, then return to my seat and my stupor. Holmes would be there, then gone, then there again.

When I woke, countryside was passing by, bright fields beneath a blazing sun.

Castle Shade, Chapter Six, p. 30

Sentence of the Day: 3rd Monday of 2022

  • In late 1917, the Bolsheviks swept across Russia, murdering Marie’s cousin (Tsar Nicholas II of Russia) and all his family, lining up the army’s officers for execution, leaving Roumania a tiny island surrounded by enemies who snarled over her bones and sent assassins after the royal family.

But this is a love story, dear blog readers. A love story between English-born Princess Marie of Roumania (Why is it spelled that way in this book?) and her adopted homeland.

Hugely enjoying Castle Shade (“a novel of suspense featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes”). The pair are headed to Transylvania. Aside from the historical bits there have been discussion of vampires.

Exciting.

Stay tuned.

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