Jessica's books

The One and Only Ivan
Revolutionary War on Wednesday
Leprechaun in Late Winter
Ella Enchanted
The Courage of Sarah Noble
Plain Murder
Gone-Away Lake
Circling the Sun
Maggie and Max
The Haunting of Sunshine Girl
The Night Sister
Tuck Everlasting
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Bedknob and Broomstick
Mister Monday
Alice Through the Looking Glass
The Birchbark House
The Hobbit
The Witch's Daughter

Jessica's favorite books »

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Book Review: Black Spring by Alison Croggon

Black Spring  
*Received this book from Around the World ARC Tours for review*

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  Inspired by Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, BLACK SPRING reimagines the passionate story in a fantasy 19th century society sustained by wizardry and the vengeance code of vendetta.

Anna spent her childhood with Damek and her volatile foster sister Lina, daughter of the Lord of the village. Lina has magical powers, and in this brutal patriarchal society women with magical powers are put to death as babies. Lina’s father, however, refuses to kill her but when vendetta explodes in their village and Lina’s father dies, their lives are changed forever. Their new guardian Masko sends Anna away and reduces Lina to the status of a servant. Damek—mad with love for Lina—attempts to murder Masko, then vanishes for several years. Anna comes home five years later to find Lina about to marry a pleasant young farmer, and witnesses Damek’s vengeful return and its catastrophic consequences.

Passionate, atmospheric and haunting, BLACK SPRING will stay with readers long after they turn the final page.

My Thoughts:  I read Wuthering Heights in high school and I fell in love with the story.  I was a little worried about reading this book but it has been a really long time since high school and I've forgotten some of the story so I thought it would be okay.

The book started out a little slow for me with the story of Hammel (a.k.a. Mr. Lockwood).  Hammel was leaving the city for the North to put some distance between himself and a lady.  After arriving, he decides to meet the man who is letting him stay at the Red House, despite his housekeeper's warnings.  Halfway to the Master's house, a storm develops and Hammel has to stay the night with the miserable man he finds at the manse.  Hammel meets Damek (Heathcliff) and his young wife, who is quite angry and who is treated very poorly.  After Damek tells his manservant to put Hammel in a room, Hammel spends a very uneasy night and in the morning, he is greeted by the face of a woman with violet eyes in the mirror.  After telling Damek what he sees, Damek goes a little crazy and Hammel quickly leaves.

Once back at the Red House, Hammel gets ill from being out in the storm and the dog bite that he received at Damek's house and has to be nursed back to health by Anna (Nelly).  Anna tells him the story of herself, Damek and a young woman named Lina (Catherine).  You see, Lina and Anna were milk sisters and although Lina had royal blood, she treated Anna like a sister for the first years of their lives.  After Lina's father brings Damek home, Lina instead turns to Damek as her best friend.  After Lina's father dies in an unfortunate accident, the King gives the estate over to a disgusting pig of a man, Masko.  Masko abuses Lina and Damek and Anna both leave.  Anna is summoned back to be Lina's housemaid when Lina is engaged and is shocked by Lina's fragile appearance.  Lina marries and becomes pregnant and then Damek returns.  From there, everything goes downhill.

The one element in this book that wasn't in the original was the wizards and witches.  Wizards have much control over the villages and are greatly feared.  Witches are usually killed.  Lina has the violet eyes of a witch and must be careful.  There is also the "vendetta" which was particularly  disturbing to me.  Vendetta is this:  if someone in the village gets killed, that person's first male relation must then kill his murder.  There is a 40 day grace period between the time the person is killed and the time that the male relation can kill the murderer.  Then that person's first male relation must avenge the death and so on.  This can effectively kill off entire villages.  The people must also pay a "blood tax" on each person that kills.  The people in the villages never knew when or where it would happen but always feared it.  

I really enjoyed this story.  It was very close to what I remember of Wuthering Heights.  It was a dark read and a little slow at the beginning but once I got into Anna's story, I couldn't put the book down.  I enjoyed this retelling of an amazing classic!


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