Showing posts from July, 2016

"Sensational bonkers"

First of all, a confession. I am, like, so all about The Dark Tower right now. OMG, amirite? By which I mean, I devoured Song of Susannah last week and am already about a quarter of the way through the final book in Stephen King's fantasy series. It's 700 pages long but there is a chance it could get finished before the week is out. It's just too exciting.

The odd part of this is that I've not necessarily been a big fan of the individual books in this series. I found The Gunslinger hardgoing, and it was a little while before I picked up the next one. The books aren't written in as easy a style as King's horror - there are times when the story seems overwritten, moments that pull the reader out of the books - and the fantasy genre has never been a favourite of mine. Too many coincidences; too many ways magic can conveniently save the day when the writer has apparently written themselves into a plothole. This is probably grossly unfair but it always seems to me th…

A very Victorian soap opera

Reading Basil by Wilkie Collins was a definite blast from the past. Returning to the subject of my MA thesis after an absence of about five years, it was interesting to note how familiar the style was and how clearly I recognised his favourite tropes and themes.

The book itself isn't one of his best, but it certainly contains many of the features that made Collins famous (and notorious) during the Victorian era. It's rightly called a sensation novel, covering themes that most soap opera fans will be very familiar with: love, deceit, revenge, tragedy, etc. It's all a bit overblown in places, but that's kinda the point!

Basil is written largely as an autobiography, with the young man of the title telling us about his infatuation with the beautiful Margaret Sherwin and the doomed course his love took. That's not a spoiler: as much as this is hinted at by the story's very opening. Basil is not the most attractive of protagonists, admitting openly to his personality f…