Sentence of the Day, Fourth Saturday of 2022

  • “Then the next night, when you returned, one of the kitchen maids spoke to a dead man as she went home after dark.” — Mary Russell to Queen Marie of Roumania, Castle Shade, p. 235

Hearing

Despite the frustrating lack of PDAs between Holmes and Mary Russell, this book has been serving up an array of delightful facts about supernatural phenomena.

Convo between Mary Russell and the Princess Ileana:

“But tell me about the ghosts in Bran Castle. The ones you’ve heard.”

“I don’t know that one can hear a ghost, there’s another name for that.”

“Poltergeist?”

“That’s it — a spirit that knocks things about.” Which, though I would not tell her, generally appears in the vicinity of an adolescent girl who feels that not enough attention is being paid her.

“I thought once I heard a voice speaking.”

Castle Shade, p. 147

That’s funny, self occasionally hears voices too! And this voice, this disembodied voice, always says, plaintively, “Mommy! Mommy!”

Once she heard it in Bangkok Airport and it almost broke her heart, it sounded so lost, so sad. She found herself turning her head, this way and that, as if looking for a lost child.

Ghosts feature a lot in self’s fiction. Mary Russell’s remark about adolescent girls made her think immediately of one story in particular: Seeing, in PANK

Ghosts are amazing narrative devices.

Apologies for this digression. Back to reading the enormously entertaining Castle Shade!

Stay tuned.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Vampire Lore: Self Learns New Things Every Day

“Sprinkling mustard seeds over a floor or roof keeps the creature too busy counting to go further.”

— Sherlock Holmes to Mary Russell in Castle Shade, p. 22

Things About Sandman Slim

Things that are cool about Sandman Slim:

  • He is Nephilim.
  • He has a flaming sword called Gladius (like a light saber, but cooler).
  • He has PTSD from being in Hell.
  • He can go anywhere, anywhere in the world, as long as he can find a shadow.
  • His ride is called the Hellion Hog.
  • While in Hell, he developed a taste for Malediction cigarettes.

Things that are not cool about Sandman Slim:

  • Janet
  • Janet
  • Janet again
  • Just, in general, Janet and their lack of ambition. She works in a donut shop. (This does not seem like a “transitional” phase.) She explained to Sandman Slim that she is against binary pronouns — he/she. He must always refer to them as “they” or whatever.
  • Janet is tiresome. They are the type of woman who likes their men to rescue them. Notice I have to submit to calling Janet “they/them” because that is how they want Sandman Slim to refer to them. And they are mixed up. Did self say already how weird they are?
  • They belong to a club where people find sexy ways to commit suicide, such as rushing straight across a freeway during rush hour traffic. To get into this club, Sandman Slim must show how adventurous he is by killing a vampire. He does it handily because of supernatural ability. Also because of flaming sword. Mostly he just does it to impress Janet. Which is lame, boring. Because they are boring.

Anyhoo, self is reading fast now and hopefully will get to her next book, a memoir by Elizabeth Berg, about aging and how we all must go through it, blah blah blah. Hopefully it will NOT be depressing, because nothing’s worse than reading a book about aging and being depressed. Also, it’s about a real-life couple who have a great love, and sometimes it’s depressing to read about that.

But oh, it’s such a gorgeous day. And oh btw, she edited a story and sent it out. Her story’s about exploration, and discovery, and about how a one’s character can pretty much dictate the arc of one’s life, and when you get to the end, do you say, What’s next? Or do you say, What was that all about? Or do you say nothing.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

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