The Sensualist by Barbara Hodgson

As an illustrated novel, The Sensualist contains a lot of eye-candy that specifically relates to the 16th century anatomist, Andreas Vesalius. I figure I should mention that right from the start, because it's eye-catching, and the first thing that I did before delving into the story was look at all of the beautiful pictures.

The story, itself, begins in Austria and makes it's way into both Hungary and Germany. The reader follows Helen, an art historian, who is searching for her missing husband and becomes entangled in a mystery involving murder, anatomical art forgeries, and missing Vesalius woodblocks.

It would be impossible to give a really accurate description of how this book reads. It's surreal, and I often felt like I was reading the screenplay of a Jeunet and Caro flick. The characters are beyond eccentric. The settings are visual, and Hodgson's descriptions of the five senses are numerous and interesting. It was well worth my time, and I'll be looking into her other work in the future.

Singing Innocence and Experience by Sonya Taaffe

This volume contains some of the most brilliant prose that I've read in my lifetime. It's dense and well-crafted, and I've tried to take my time with it in an attempt to make it last. I've read and reread, and the feeling of absorbing Taaffe's lush and poetic imagery is like being intoxicated by a sweet and heady fruit that can only be found within the chronicles of myth.

My favourite stories are Constellations, Conjunctions, a wondrous tale about a woman made of stars, Shade and Shadow, a story of Orpheus and Eurydike and hungry ghosts, and A Maid on the Shore, a brief glimpse into the magic of the Selkie and the salty sea. Make no mistake, though. All of the other stories in this collection are worth their weight in gold especially if you have a love of myth, both classical and modern.

Henry Fuseli

Why am I here to relate the destruction of the best hope and the purest creature on earth? She was there, lifeless and inanimate, thrown across the bed, her head hanging down and her pale and distorted features half covered by her hair. Everywhere I turn I see the same figure--her bloodless arms and relaxed form flung by the murderer on its bridal bier. Could I behold this and live? Alas! Life is obstinate and clings closest where it is most hated. For a moment only did I lose recollection; I fell senseless on the ground. - Victor Frankenstein after the murder of Elizabeth by the creature.
As I was perusing litgothic, I came across some information regarding the inspiration for Mary Shelley's description of Elizabeth's death. Apparently, it was based on a painting called The Nightmare (of which there are two versions) by an English artist called Henry Fuseli.

You can see both versions of the painting in a larger scale at the Art Renewal Center along with a myriad of other works. I'm particularly fond of the one entitled Silence.

Anna Karenina and Wuthering Heights

On Friday night, I watched the first two episodes of the HBO series, Rome (which I'll be persuing more of), but most of this weekend has been spent entirely within the pages of books.

On Saturday morning, I finished Anna Karenina, and I must admit that I didn't care for it as much as I had hoped to. Tolstoy is fantastic in regards to characterization, and the novel was certainly well written, but he often lost my strict attention with frequent moralizing and drawn out forays into Russian politics. That's not to say that I don't understand the importance of the politics as they relate to the story, but it was all a bit long-winded for me. It's supposed to be one of Tolstoy's greatest novels, but I guess Tolstoy is just not my cup of tea.

In contrast, I started Wuthering Heights on Saturday evening, and I've barely been able to pull my attention away from it. I did manage to take a shower and brush my teeth, but beyond that, I've been hopelessly chained to the English moor. It's a dark and wicked story full of atmosphere, and it's perfect for October.

Mr. Vincent Price

This video of Vincent Price makes me unbelievably happy.

Also, did you know that he wrote cookbooks? This is one of several, and the recipes don't even require a cauldron.

Spooky Short Stories - Part One

October has arrived, and while I tend to enjoy gothic literature all year round, this is a good time to promote a few favourites.

The Beckoning Fair One by Oliver Onions - Regarded by some as one of the best ghost stories written in the English language. Subtle and beautiful.

Rappaccini's Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne - Love blooms within a garden of poisonous flowers.

The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allen Poe - A brutal tale of revenge in which a man is buried alive.

The Wendigo by Algernon Blackwood - Based on a Native American Legend, this chilling story is set within the Canadian backwoods.

A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner - A southern gothic tale about an eccentric spinster and the skeletons in her closet.