Reviews : Jane – Emily by Patricia Clapp & Dolly by Susan Hill

Jane – Emily

Emily was a selfish , willful , hateful child who died before her thirteenth birthday . But that was a long time ago .

Jane is nine years old and an orphan when she and her young Aunt Louisa come to spend the summer at Jane’s grandmother’s house , a large , mysterious mansion in Massachusetts. Then one day . . . Jane stares into a reflecting ball in the garden — and the face that looks back at her is not her own .

Many years earlier, a child of rage and malevolence lived in this place . And she never left . Now Emily has dark plans for little Jane—a blood-chilling purpose that Louisa , just a girl herself , must battle with all her heart , soul , and spirit . . . or she will lose her innocent , helpless niece forever .

There are times when the midsummer sun strikes cold , and when the leaping flames of a hearthfire give no heat . Times when the chill within us comes not from fears we know , but from fears unknown – and forever unknowable .”

It is not a case of remembering , child . One never forgets . One simply covers them up , hides them somewhere , builds a wall so they cannot be discovered . . .

Patricia Clapp , Jane – Emily

This is my first Patricia Clapp read . While the writing is engaging and keeps the reader invested in Jane ‘ s fate , Emily ‘ s antics as the malevolent spirit does not pack the punch to shock the reader ( atleast for me ) – a few were very much predictable . Little Emily satisfied me as an evil personified child and surprisingly shocked me with her cunning & temper tantrums than the ghost whose actions were downright tame .

While this book might have ” thrilled and chilled ” the previous generation , several of the plot sequences are now often seen in our horror movies that they no longer can shock the modern reader . The finale` effectively extinguished any little interest I might have had in reading more of Patricia Clapp . Somebody finally musters up the courage to stand up to Emily and the mere courage finally vanquishes and banishes Emily from the house and all is well . Doesn ‘ t this sound too familiar ?

Rating : 2 . 75 / 5

Dolly

The remoter parts of the English Fens are forlorn , lost and damp even in the height of summer . At Iyot Lock , a large decaying house , two young cousins , Leonora and Edward are parked for the summer with their ageing spinster aunt and her cruel housekeeper . At first the unpleasantness and petty meannesses appear simply spiteful , calculated to destroy Edward ‘ s equanimity . But when spoilt Leonora is not given the birthday present of a specific dolly that she wants , affairs inexorably take a much darker turn with terrifying , life destroying , consequences for everyone .

“Places are often filled with their own pasts and exude a sense of them, an atmosphere of great good or great evil, which can be picked up by anyone sensitive to their surroundings.”

Susan Hill , Dolly

I had previously read The Woman In Black by Susan Hill and loved it . After the disappointment with Clapp , I was apprehensive about trying new authors and decided that a known author was the safest bet . Hill ‘ s atmospheric narrative is the highlight of her storytelling . Her descriptions of the dreary landscape and the bleak weather set the tone for the rest of the narrative – vivid with a constant undercurrent of something sinister waiting to happen . It had me reading too much into the narrative hoping to pick up clues to guess the plot trajectory but I failed miserably . Dolly ‘ s ending is something that you wouldn ‘ t see coming . The reader knows that the incident with the Dolly bodes something ill for Leonora but never would one guess the superb final twist .

However , on the flipside Dolly leaves a little too much to the reader ‘ s interpretation . There are also several unanswered questions . I am ready to overlook these flaws for the simply brilliant narrative except that there is no convincing explanation as to what actually set in motion the chain of events . I would have loved if Hill had written a full length novel instead of a novella at 153 pages . These days while we have some novels with chapters which read like they were written as an afterthought , I could not help wondering at Susan Hill . The plot premise still has a lot of meat and Hill leaves her readers to work out a chunk of it by themselves which is somewhat frustrating . . .

Rating : 3 . 5 / 5 **

** If it were for the story line alone , it should have been a 3 only . But Susan Hill ‘s narrative is simply entralling that I am bumping it up to a 3 . 5 . . .

If you have already read the novellas , you can say in the comments section about your thoughts on them  . Until the next review then . . .

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