Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Swirling Mists Of Cornwall by Patricia Werner

Just before his untimely and mysterious death, Rhionna Fowley’s father warned her never to return to his ancestral home in Cornwall. Yet she was drawn to the rocky, mist-shrouded land of her forebears, and so eager to leave New York that she put his strange words aside. But as her ship foundered off the rugged Cornish coast, she wondered if her journey would indeed be cursed.

Shipwrecked and delirious, Rhionna found herself in a castle high above the roiling sea – and in thrall to the handsome, beguiling Lord Geoffrey Rhyweth. But as her strength returned, her suspicious grew: Why did Lord Rhyweth prowl the castle each evening – what haunted him so that he found no solace in the peace of night? Why did the villagers speak of him in fearful whispers? And why were young women disappearing from the village? Would she be next?

As Rhionna’s terror mounted, she knew she had to flee. For soon it would be too late to escape.

This tale is quintessentially gothic, narrated by Rhionna as seen through her eyes. It begins in 1887 New York and soon moves to Cornwall, England.

The overall mood is gloomy and ominous; the setting suitably intimidating … the Castle Rhyweth serves as the focal point, with its surrounding areas providing a change of scenery which are equally menacing. These elements go a long way in making this tale appealing; these are what I like the most about it.

Rhionna is a headstrong, feisty and smart girl. The best way to get her to do something is to tell her not to do it. While I think her courage and spontaneous attitude are commendable, I’m afraid she is also foolhardy in the way she rashly plunges into dangerous situations. So can someone be intelligent yet foolhardy? I believe yes … when she is too smart and impulsive for her own good … as in the case of Rhionna – it is a wonder that she comes out alive time and again! Now, I understand that her escapades are the integral part of the story, and without them there won’t be a story … I just don’t like her actions very much.

Geoffrey is very much the handsome, mysterious and misunderstood gothic hero. The reader won’t know much about him and his intentions until the end. I’ve read in other gothics where the heroes were quite well-characterized … through their actions and the heroine’s thoughts, they became real. Geoffrey, regrettably, is an inaccessible character, so it is hard to feel deeply for him.

The writing is readable and brisk. The suspense is palpable at times (with our heroine supplying several tense opportunities). There are many secondary characters with uncertain motivation, so they provide the perfect red-herrings. The ending is somewhat an anticlimax. Nevertheless, all questions are plausibly answered.

This is a decently plotted story, with terrific gothic mood, atmosphere and setting. I can’t give it a higher rating because I find both the hero and heroine neither particularly compelling nor memorable.

My rating3.5
Sensuality ratingSubtle

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