An appreciative satire of the cliches of traditional Gothic.
When Clarissa Greendale inherits the fortune of disreputable uncle she hardly knows, she does not expect to find herself forced into marriage with an aristocratic fortune hunter and wild, brawling, debauched social outcast. Still, she has always found Harley Venn set off the most unmaidenly tinglings in her; that is one consolation.
Yet neither did Clarinda expect to inherit the legacy of evil from half a century before. For the wicked if beguiling Lord Venn seems to have inherited a family curse, which, having dispatched the main perpetrators of the old crime, now moves on to their heirs, who are just as wild a set of rakes as their elders. There are rumours of violent deaths preceded by appearances from an inexorable hooded spectre, of inexplicable strikes of lightning, and of haunted mirrors.
The light-hearted Harley Venn dismisses all these as conjuring tricks. He even hires a drunken charlatan of a professional magician to prove it.
Clarinda is far from sure that there is any rational explanation. Still, it would take more than an enforced marriage to an incorrigible pugilistic libertine or persecution from malevolent spectres to damage her steely nerves and sense of the ridiculous.
This lively Gothic comedy, written as a good natured satire, gives the reader a kind and courageous heroine, a rascally but beguiling anti-hero and an authentic historical background to the delightfully over-the-top adventures, a cast of wholly believable characters, an engaging love story and many chills on its way to its tumultuous conclusion.
The Villainous Viscount is a mysterious ghostly paranormal romp through Regency England. It simultaneously manages to be witty, charming, and even educational, as the writer explains with footnotes many customs and colloquialisms of the era.
Harley Venn, our handsome and talented hero, is a ne’er do well rake in search of a lady with fortune. Our heroine, Clarinda Greendale, plain but physically voluptuous, remains unaffected and charming while being thrust into society with her newly acquired fortune. Their paths cross, and the sparks ignite, though embers burn long before the fire burns.
The pace is just right, as it gives the key characters the opportunities to discover one another. At the same time, they are repeatedly thrown together by haunted mirrors and ghostly images, beginning their search for the answer to a mysterious curse that is tied to members of both families.
The paranormal aspect fits nicely into the narrative, and I found myself eager to continue the story in order to discover the cure for the curse. I love a good ghost story and a good love story, and The Villainous Viscount provides both an enjoyable and well-paced read. I give it five stars.
Lucinda Elliot loves writing Gothic style stories, which isn’t surprising because she was brought up in a series of big old isolated houses which her parents were refurbishing (it wasn’t so fashionable back then). After that, she lived, studied and worked in London for many years and now lives in Mid Wales with her family.
She loves writing about strong women to complement gung-ho males.
Her interests do include weight training and body shaping,and she was once a champion Sportsfighter, but apart from that her interests are quite geeky. Reading classic novels, conservation, gardening, and even names and their meanings (bring on the carrot juice). She loves a laugh above anything.
Monday, December 7
Review at Probably at the Library
Tuesday, December 8
Guest Post at Novels Alive
Wednesday, December 9
Review at Robin Loves Reading
Friday, December 11
Interview at Books & Benches
Monday, December 14
Review at Novels Alive
Tuesday, December 15
Review at Rajiv’s Reviews