Here we are at the end of perilous things, but to misquote Dickens “I will honor Halloween in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” How was my spooky season? It’s been okay. And in 2020 terms that means it’s been super awesome.
Followed *most* of the Drawloween prompts, resulting in this:
I’m supposed to be reading The Hound of the Baskervilles this weekend for Sherlockathon, but mostly I’m just chilling out and regrouping for…
Notes of Non-Peril
Nonfic November! I’ll be blogging for that tomorrow and I’m combining my first couple nonfiction reads with Sherlockathon. My original choice, The Butchering Art, is on deep hold at the library so I’ll be reading Edison’s Eve: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life by Gaby Wood and The Tale of Terror: A Study Of The Gothic Fiction by Edith Birkhead.
And I’m also going to do NaNoWriMo. Yep. I’m going to try and write 50K words on my Ada Swason project. Basically, I’m going to write a loosely structured narrative, with digressions and notes on what I need to further research. So far, so good: I’ve already got one day done!
Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell by Paul Kane
“What up with all the Hellraiser?” my husband asked me the other day.
‘Tis the season, I guess.
I do rather like Hellraiser, the movie and the Clive Barker story, “Hellbound Heart,” that it’s based on. I believe I’ve watched the second in the series as well, but haven’t further followed the franchise. The mashup of Sherlock Holmes and Hellraiser lore seemed intriguing to me.
How much Hellraiser is in this novel? Quite a bit. This more than a wink-nudge-nod. I don’t think it’s explicitly necessary to be familiar with the movies or additional literature, but I did find the protracted mention of various Cenobites from other sources to be a little tedious.
Similarly, there are a lot of mentions and allusions to the extended Holmes universe, which I enjoyed more since I’m more familiar with that. I am a little leery of non-canon Holmes fiction, especially when it runs along the lines of “Sherlock Holmes Meets [insert famous historical/fictional character]”, but the conceit of Holmes being drawn to the Lament Configuration after his near-death at Reichenbach was plausible. I thought the personality traits of Holmes and Watson were well-represented, but many of the plot points originated from character other than the duo. It wasn’t *quite* deus ex machina, but close in a couple cases.
It was a fun enough book, especially for an October read.
I intended to read The Dark Detective: Sherlock Holmes for Sherlockathon‘s Mycroft prompt (read an entire book in one location), but after a few pages, I found that I didn’t care for the art or Christopher Sequeira’s take on Holmes and Watson. So, I switched from one graphic novel collection to another and read Cynthia von Buhler’s Minky Woodcock: The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini. Minky is a hard-boiled PI who ends up uncovering the truth behind Houdini’s death. It’s based kinda-sorta on fact, with quite a bit of nudity, bondage, and girl-fights mixed in. Definitely not the usual fiction I’ve read about Houdini.
Notes of Peril
I also finished my first novel for the Sherlockathon: Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell by Paul Kane. I’ll have a review of that later in the week. Next up: The Parasite by Arthur Conan Doyle.
Deal Me In provided a holiday treat this week: “Dark Christmas” by Jeanette Winterson. Of course, wrong holiday, but that’s what happens when you put Christmas stories in your random reading challenge. Very “perilous” and atmospheric, though, proving that the spirit of the Halloween holiday can continue after Saturday.
Notes of Non-Peril
Cooler weather! Football! It’s almost like fall around here. Well, Nebraska lost its game and we’re probably going back to near 90F by the end of the week, but I’ll take it for as long as I can have it.
Usually, I’m all in on Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon, which happened on Saturday, but I didn’t participate this time around. Leading up to it, I was hesitant and I couldn’t put my finger on why. I thought it was just because I had other things going on Saturday (like Nebraska football’s season opener and horror films to watch). But halfway through Saturday, I finally figured out what the deal was. I had found the last Readathon stressful. I know it sounds kind of dumb, but I had felt pressure to read when I didn’t feel like reading. I didn’t want to be stressed out about reading! So, I abstained this time around. We’ll see how I feel in April.
The Boats of the “Glen Carrig” by William Hope Hodgson
Being an account of their Adventures in the Strange places of the Earth, after the foundering of the good ship Glen Carrig through striking upon a hidden rock in the unknown seas to the Southward. As told by John Winterstraw, Gent., to his son James Winterstraw and by him committed very properly and legibly to manuscript.
As I mentioned in my Notes post, I had decided to read Hodgson’s The Ghost Pirates between Home Before Dark and the Sherlockathon, but an author’s note in that volume redirected me to The Boats of the “Glen Carrig”, the first of a loose trilogy, apparently. The second volume is The House on the Borderland, which I intend to read as part of my Classics List at some point. The House on the Borderland is commonly considered a foundational text of weird fiction and is well-regarded by the likes of H. P . Lovecraft.
I really enjoyed The Boats of the “Glen Carrig”. I get in the mood for sea adventures every once in a while, especially ones with a bit of supernatural flair. Two boats make it away from the wreck of the Glen Carrig. They encounter a desolate island full of shrieking fungi, storms, a continent of kelp, giant crabs and squids, and finally an island near another wrecked ship with survivors who have been marooned for seven years. Alas, the island/kelp sea’s natural inhabitants are strange squid men.
My forever beef with weird fiction is that it often falls back on “It was indescribable and therefore drove me insane!” Hodgson’s narrator does his best to describe all the uncanny elements and then he and his colleagues proceed to kill the things with fire. Is he later nervous and a little haunted by the things? Sure. But the goal is always survival. Does that make this a less sophisticated story? Maybe, but also a more enjoyable story in my opinion.
In the later part of the novel, Hodgson does get wrapped up in describing how the ship marooned in the kelp sea is eventually put into sailing shape again. All of the sea voyaging seems pretty realistic to me, which also grounds the fantastic elements, but some of these bits are drier than Melville’s whale chapters in Moby-Dick.
First of all, I formatted a little seasonal treat: “The Chess-Player” by author unknown. I found it while working on my automaton anthology, but it was too long for that. Click through and download it if you’d like a nice Gothic tale for October.
I had thought to read The Ghost Pirates by William Hope Hodgson last week, but an author’s note advised that it was the end of a three book series. So, I read the first, The Boats of the “Glen Carrig”, instead. I enjoyed it. I’ll have more to say on it later in the week and will get around to the second, The House on the Borderland, after…
Sherlockathon! Sherlockathon starts today. My first book is Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell by Paul Kane, a Holmes/Hellraiser mashup. In the last few years, Holmes and Clive Barker have both been 4th quarter favorites.
I’m a little behind on my movie challenge currently, partially due to binge-watching A Wilderness of Errors, a true crime documentary on Hulu. It is an interesting look at how witness testimony in criminal investigations is often given greater weight than physical evidence…even though humans both lie and have unreliable memories.
Afterlife with Archie, Vol. 1: Escape from Riverdale by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Writer), Francesco Francavilla (Illustrations), Jack Morelli (Illustrator)
I still think it’s weird that Sabrina the Teenage Witch is part of the Archie comics and the whole Archie comic-verse. Archie was the kind of comics my grandpa would suggest for me while I was reading Star Wars. Regardless, the franchise has undergone something of a renovation in recent years. But before there was Riverdale, the prime-time teen soap, there was Afterlife with Archie. The premise? A zombie apocalypse is sparked off when Sabrine helps Jughead by bringing Hot Dog back to life. The color palette is minimalist, which leads to striking visuals.
Notes of Peril
Finished Riley Sager’s Home Before Dark. I wasn’t super impressed, I’ll admit. I plan on posting about it on Thursday-ish. I’m up in the air on what I’m reading next. Maybe William Hope Hodgson’s House on the Borderland trio.
Last week, I revisited Glen Hirshberg’s excellent short story “Strewwelpeter.” If I haven’t said it before, his anthology The Two Sams is one of my favorites for this time of year.
Amazingly, it’s still a possibility that we’ll break the 100+F record. The record set in 1989 is 143 day at or above 100F degrees. We hit 142 days on Friday. The last couple of days have been in the high 90s; the rest of week promises at least one more 100 degree day. But knowing 2020 we’re probably just going to tie record…
I intended to give a more formal update on the first half of Horror Movies A to Z: The Return, but I never got to it this week. Instead, here’s a little summary:
I ended up rewatching 14 movies and watching 12 new-to-me movies. The most common rating was R. The most common decade was the 2010s (followed by the 80s). I apparently avoided the PG-13 horror movie trend that I’ve heard so much about… New-to-me You’re Next (2011) gets top marks along with the weird and kinda lovely Starfish (2018). One rewatch that re-impressed me was Idle Hands (1999).
Perils of the Bookshelf
Finished Bedbugs by Ben H. Winters and moved on to Home Before Dark, which in rare good-timing became available from the library just as I was finishing Bedbugs. Lots of “haunted” house goodness!
Peril on the Drawing Board
There are quite a few art challenges going on in October in the wake of Inktober‘s popularity. I decided to try one of these challenges myself. Since I wanted one that was *very* seasonally appropriate I chose Mab’s Drawlloween. I’m going to spend a half-hour or so on each prompt, adding to a main drawing. Above is what has occurred after “werewolf,” “pumpkin,” and “changeling.” Will is be a cohesive thing when I get done? Probably not.