Nyssa's Hobbit Hole

Category: novel (page 1 of 2)

Meeting her vampire husband: Excerpt from my book The Lighthouse

An excerpt from my book “The Lighthouse”:

Randall met me at the door that evening with a smile, a vigorous (though chilly) handshake and a boisterous,

“Hello, hello, friend Josh! Welcome to our mini-mansion. Do you want a drink?”

“Do you have Mountain Dew?” I asked.

“Yes, we do. Candida says she can’t survive without it or chocolate. I understand her addiction, since I have my own.” He grinned with his eyebrows drawn together.

An image flashed through my mind of Randall pouring blood from a vial–or maybe from his own veins–into a can of pop. “Could I–have that in a glass–a clear glass, please?”

Randall frowned for a moment in confusion, but then he said, “All right, whatever you wish.”

“I’ll get it for you,” Candida said. She bounded off down the hallway to the kitchen. At least she was still bouncy and vibrant, which I had always loved about her.

Randall offered me the loveseat. He sat in a wicker chair adjacent to it. I hoped he didn’t notice as I swept my gaze over the seat before sitting down. Nope, no blood or–um–emissions from him and Candida–um–christening the house’s furniture. Another image flashed through my mind: Candida naked in his arms. I got a wincing headache.

“So–um–who are you?” I asked.

“Mr. Candida, Randall Ankh.”

My eyebrows shot up. “Ankh? The Egyptian symbol for life?”

“Yes. Unusual name, isn’t it? My parents changed their last name to it. They held great stock in symbolism and loved to study ancient Egypt. This idol of Set came from them.”

He put his hand on a small stone statue of a two-legged, muscular being with a dog-like face, long ears and a loincloth. Candida allowing an idol in her house was odd enough, but wasn’t Set supposed to be evil, killing his own brother Osiris?

Candida bounced back into the room with a tall glass of Mountain Dew, nearly splashing it on me as she handed it to me.

“And what is your last name?” Randall asked.

I flinched. I meant my question to be more probing, a way to get him to confess, “Yes, I am a vampire, and my last name is ironic considering the death and destruction I bring.” But he turned it right around on me before it had a chance to work. Not that I knew how it could work, anyway.

“Hilfe. It’s German for ‘help.’ You know, in case you hear anybody say, ‘Hilf mich,’ that’s what they mean: ‘Help me.’”

He did not seem to notice my subtle barb. “Any friend of Candida’s is a friend of mine, and she tells me you’re one of her best. I had to let you into our house because she would not stop talking about you. Perhaps I should be jealous.” His eye flashed red, then went back to steel gray. “When you get a treasure like Candida, you don’t want to let her go.”

Didn’t I know it.

I scratched my eyebrow, probably a nervous tic. I found Randall more disconcerting the more amiable he seemed.

“Oh, you haven’t even touched your drink,” Candida chirped from beside the wicker chair.

The doorbell rang. I jumped. Some of my drink splashed. Candida called out “hello” when Randall trotted to the door and opened it. A few “heys” showed it was an old friend of Randall’s. This friend walked in, another pale-faced young man, though black. His clothes were dark blue, well-cut and expensive. I’m not much of a judge of male looks, but he seemed to be in the same category as Denzel Washington or Billy Dee Williams. That meant he caused lust in any woman of any race. That meant I was the ugly one in this house.

“Josh, Candida, this is Vincent,” Randall said. “Shall I get you a drink?” he asked Vincent.

“Oh, yes, the usual,” Vincent said. “I’ve had nothing to drink all evening.”

Randall trotted off.

“Are you a friend of Randall’s?” Vincent asked.

“No, Candida’s,” I said.

“How long have you known her?”

“Since spring.”

“I’ve only just met her, myself. So this is she, the beautiful Candida.” He nodded at her in a way so smooth and chivalric it made me jealous.

Candida flushed and grinned back at him boldly. My likelihood of catching her eye was getting worse all the time.

Randall returned with a wineglass full of a sanguine liquid. Wine, yes, it must be red wine. Yet when Vincent drank it, it made bloody stains on the side of the glass. No, no, it’s wine, it’s got to be wine. My head felt light. I turned my gaze to the Mountain Dew, hoping to get the image out of my head. I had to get the phantom, iron taste of blood out of my mouth. I took a sip. I couldn’t stop myself; I imagined the liquid going down my throat was not Dew, but blood. I gagged. My head spun. Candida leaped to my side.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

I gazed at her without speaking. Through fuzzy vision I turned to Vincent and then Randall, who sat there with his eyebrows drawn together in what looked like concern. He was so pale, so–

I had to get out of there. “I’m sorry, Candida; I’m not feeling well. I have to go home.”

“Don’t be silly. We can take care of you here.” She stroked my hair. All my nerve endings begged me to stay and let her keep doing that, but I could not do it.

“No, really, I’d much rather be in my own room.”

I jumped up, grabbed my coat and ran out of the house, never minding how dizzy I was. Candida soon ran after me, throwing on her coat and carrying my glass of pop.

“You forgot this,” she said. “I’ll walk you back to campus and make sure you get to your room all right.”

I hugged her. How I wanted to stay nestled in her softness. “It’s sweet of you, but I can’t let you walk back by yourself in the dark. This is the city, after all.”

She smiled, kissed my cheek, handed me the glass and turned back.

As I walked, I drew in deep breaths of the chill air, blowing them out and watching the vapor. Back in my room, the glass sat untouched on top of the little box of a refrigerator in my room. My roommate was all too happy to take it off my hands, and I was all too happy to let him. I cleaned and returned the glass in the morning.

Though I loved Dew, it was many months before I could drink it again, especially from a glass.

–From “Candida” in my book The Lighthouse, e-book available for $3 at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/nerissa

(This was originally posted on my author page, here.)

 

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I have made a new author page

It is a separate site devoted to my books.  Check it out here.

 

 

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“The Rapture”: Left Behind Review, Part 1 (also goes into smacking kids upside the head)

by Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins, Tyndale House Publishers, ISBN 1414305818, available practically anywhere Christian books are sold:

A plot summary is here.

FINALLY, the last prequel.  So only one more book is left!  (I’ve been reading these books for more than five years now.  😛  Though that’s nothing compared to how long the Slacktivist has been doing this.  😛  )

It’s comforting, on pages 13 to 14, to see Irene’s new Christian friends and pastor counsel her to stop nagging Rayford into getting “saved.”

Another pleasant surprise comes on page 16, when their son Raymie asks, “Mom, is Dad going to hell?” and Irene answers, “Frankly, I can’t tell where your dad is on all this.  He claims to believe in God, and it’s not for us to say.”

Pages 17 and 18 inspired me to write this post on my blog, which I will copy for you here:

I’m currently reading the Left Behind book “The Rapture” for my series of Left Behind reviews.  My reviews and the Slacktivist describe the bad, ungodly behavior of the Christians in the books.  But what I read last night, really burns me up:

A good Christian woman, Lucinda Washington, middle-aged, who is not afraid to show her faith and is respected by all, is also Buck’s favorite colleague, a mentor of sorts.

After witnessing the dramatic, supernatural defeat of the air forces sent to decimate Israel, he comes to her office looking for answers.  He plops down in a chair with his feet on the desk and she says,

“If you were my son I’d whup you upside the head, sitting like that, tearing up your spine.”

“You don’t still smack Lionel, do you?” Buck said, peeking at the photo of the smooth-faced youngster [he’s 12].

“Can’t catch him anymore, but he knows I can still take him.”

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Excuse me, this isn’t set in 1950, but in 21st-century America, some indeterminate time after the present, right before the Rapture–and the book was written in 2006.

This barbaric practice should be universally condemned as child abuse by the time this book takes place.  It’s already illegal in some places.  And even 100 years ago, people knew that smacking kids anywhere on the head is dangerous.  I go into this in great detail in these posts:

Child Abuse, Examples of Child Abuse, Hitting Kids Upside the Head is ABUSE, Slapping Kids Upside the Head Causes Traumatic Brain Injury, and  …Because slapping kids on the head is ABUSE!  STOP THE VIOLENCE!

And this is the woman we are supposed to admire as a great woman of God?  A FRICKIN’ CHILD ABUSER????!!!!!

Here, I describe how two narcissistic “friends” turned out to be child abusers, whom I eventually reported to CPS because I could not get through to them, and who then threatened and began stalking me for calling them child abusers.  One of the things they did which most enraged me, was smacking their little kids in the head.

I also unfriended some old high school classmate a while back for advocating beating children on her Facebook status.  Then, a few months ago, unfriended (and eventually blocked) a girl in my social circles who said parents should beat their children.

Now, after all that, and enduring the stress and emotional anguish of being threatened and stalked for calling this child abuse, I’m supposed to read this “Christian” book and accept that a godly woman would abuse her child by smacking him upside the head?  I’m supposed to like this character after knowing this?  She’s just another hypocrite like the rest of the series’ Christians!

On page 26, Irene has turned into a Stepford Wife, even setting out Rayford’s clothes as if he were a child.  Since badgering him into converting doesn’t work, she’s taking the opposite tactic–still manipulative, but I guess she doesn’t see that.

But it drives him crazy, because he knows her various problems with him (church, his use of time, not spending enough time with their son) are still on her mind.  He’d rather argue than pretend they don’t exist.

On pages 63 to 66, Rayford explains to Raymie what many of us have realized over the years: that just because you don’t belong to a particular religion or sect, does not necessarily mean you’re going to Hell.  Raymie replies,

Wow.  You sound just like the people Pastor Billings talks about.  People who think they have it all figured out, but they don’t really believe in Jesus.

Say what?  Just because you have a different idea of who goes to Hell, you don’t really believe in Jesus?  Also, Raymie’s words have a distinct vibe of “Oh, you’re one of those people,” said with a curling lip.  ARGH!

And double-ARGH to the last few paragraphs on page 66:

Rayford…overheard the boy talking with Irene, who had asked how things went.

“Dad’s going to hell,” Raymie said.  “He doesn’t think he is.  He thinks he isn’t.  But he doesn’t believe in Jesus.  Not really.”

Meanwhile, back in Antichrist land, pages 71 to 74 depict a Mafia-style punishment of the family of a guy marked by Fortunato, Nicolae Carpathia’s right-hand man.  It’s full of evil and angst.

Where the heck was this kind of writing in the rest of the series?  If we see this along with Carpathia’s public image as a nice guy, we’ll know he’s evil.  No, all we get in the first books is that Carpathia wants world peace, which doesn’t sound so bad.

But if we got more of this behind-the-scenes evil instead of endless pages of traveling itineraries and phone conversations, the first books could have been awesome, instead of dull trudging wondering when this book will end.

To be continued.

Find all my Left Behind book reviews here.

 

 

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My book “The Lighthouse” just got chosen for a little book club

I just got a notification from Pinterest that one of my pins–The Lighthouse–was re-pinned into a board called “book club book ideas.”  It’s not a big one–32 followers–but I’ve just sold three Lighthouse e-books and one Tojet e-book.  The e-books are free, so I don’t get any money from this, but I wanted to be read even in such a sluggish economy.  [Update: The e-books now cost $3.00.]

The Lighthouse

Enter the world of the Lighthouse, a club for supernatural beings and social misfits.  In this Gothic story collection you will find castles, ghosts, vampires, romance and terror:

 

Bedlam CastleAn American college girl loses herself in the hallways of a 900-year-old castle.  Eccentric characters invite her to dinner.  One is a genie, one is an undine, and most of the others are ghosts.  One man intrigues her the most–but is he a mortal man or a supernatural creature like the rest?

 

JarkinBecky Stevens falls in love against her will with Archibald Jarkin, an eccentric, austere and charismatic preacher.  Their passionate marriage is tested when Jarkin’s TV ministry turns into a witch hunt.  When Becky discovers the Lighthouse, their life together takes a startling new path.

 

Alexander Boa: Or, I was a co-ed vampire slaveWhen a young woman’s college is taken over by a vampire, she becomes his secret mistress.  Will she be torn apart when her friends decide to kill him?

 

CandidaA young man is stricken with a girl who falls under a vampire’s spell.  Soon married and pregnant with the vampire’s baby, she has no idea what danger she’ll be in if the baby is a boy.

 

All Together NowThis story combines characters and settings from the other four stories.  Jenny, a social misfit, is introduced to the Lighthouse, supernatural creatures, and a deceptive man.  When he leaves her and then accuses her of stalking him, she can only vindicate herself by facing the horrors of a haunted cave.  Will she survive?  Will she fall in love again?

 

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Review of Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

by Jane Austen:

(First, read my review of Mysteries of Udolpho.)

Spoilers Ahead!

Now for Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen’s satire of Mysteries of Udolpho and the Gothic genre of the late-18th century.

The first couple of chapters have been quite delightful, mostly narrative but all comic, with our introduction to Catherine (who has never had the makings of a heroine and has only now begun to even be pretty) and Mrs. Allen (who should be making the heroine’s life miserable but in reality has a good temper and nothing whatsoever to make her intolerable, or interesting other than being rich).

Rather than a fainting beauty with many accomplishments like, say, Emily in Udolpho, Catherine has always been a rambunctious tomboy, playing with cricket bats rather than dolls, and preferring books that have absolutely nothing to teach whatsoever.

Mrs. Allen takes Catherine to her first ball in the fashionable resort town of Bath.  But unlike both movie versions of this book, they meet nobody of interest at the ball, not even Henry Tilney, and the most attention Catherine gets in the huge crowd is overhearing a couple of young gentlemen calling her “pretty.”

As Austen notes, no one goes into raptures on seeing her, or calls her divine, or any such.  But what she did get means more to her than fifteen sonnets would to a “true-quality” heroine.

Catherine does finally meet Mr. Tilney, but at a different dance.  He’s a goofball, just the sort to make girls laugh and fall for him.

In chapter 6, Catherine has formed a fast attachment to Isabella Thorpe, the sister of one of her brother’s friends, and the daughter of Mrs. Allen’s old friend.  They’re attached to each other like glue, and love to talk about those “horrid” Gothic novels.

Catherine is now reading Mysteries of Udolpho and loves it.  They talk about the black veil, wonder what’s hidden behind it, and Catherine says, “Oh! I am delighted with the book! I should like to spend my whole life in reading it.”  Well, it could take you about that long to read it, those nearly 700 pages, and so much of it either landscape description or (geez) yet more plot-numbing poetry….

Isabella seems like a wonderful friend, the kind of bosom friend who is a joy to find, a kindred spirit.  She has a list of a bunch more horrid Gothic novels to read together.  And Austen, of course, pokes fun at novels of the day that would disparage novel-reading as something that their heroines, of course, would never do.  Catherine says, “[A]re they all horrid, are you sure they are all horrid?”  Isabella assures her that they are.

Now it’s time to go to Amazon and find all the books listed here….Judging by Amazon’s “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” list, other people have done this very same thing.  And guess who has published these as paperbacks in the past several years: Valancourt Books!  They appear to have been grouped together as “Northanger Abbey Horrid Novels.”

Like with Eusebius‘ many quotes from other writers, you wonder how many of these books would have simply fallen into obscurity had it not been for Jane Austen mentioning them in her own book.

Catherine, however, soon discovers her wonderful friend Isabella is actually rather selfish and self-centered.  Isabella, an incorrigible flirt, captures Catherine’s brother James’ heart, and Isabella’s brother Thorpe hopes to capture Catherine’s as well.  But he’s so rude, crude and obnoxious that this is impossible for a sweet, open, guileless girl like Catherine.

When Catherine wants to go for walks with Henry Tilney and his sister Elinor, Isabella and her brother throw a fit and try to force her to go with them instead on a long trip.  When force doesn’t work, they try manipulation: Thorpe lies to the Tilneys.  Poor Catherine, our heroine, must fight the forces that try to keep her from her true love!

When the Tilneys invite Catherine to cut her visit to Bath short and come stay with them for three weeks at their place, Northanger Abbey, Catherine is delighted: Abbeys show up in her beloved Gothic novels all the time.  She hopes for rotted walls, secret passages, and the like; Henry plays with her, encouraging her romantic spirit by telling her all the horrid things she’ll find in the abbey.  Her imagination runs rampant, so she starts exploring.

Silly Catherine quickly comes up with an elaborate suspicion of General Tilney, that he killed his wife–or locked her up–nine years ago and the proof is to be found in her old bedroom.

But Henry soon disabuses her of this notion, she realizes that General Tilney has a dreadful temper but is hardly a murderer or torturer, and she’s back to real-life concerns: Isabella has thrown over Catherine’s brother to be with Henry’s brother, since the terms of the upcoming marriage to James Morland are far poorer than she had hoped.

Henry realizes that in losing her best friend,

Your brother is certainly very much to be pitied at present; but we must not, in our concern for his sufferings, undervalue yours.

You feel, I suppose, that in losing Isabella, you lose half yourself: you feel a void in your heart which nothing else can occupy. Society is becoming irksome; and as for the amusements in which you were wont to share at Bath, the very idea of them without her is abhorrent. You would not, for instance, now go to a ball for the world.

You feel that you have no longer any friend to whom you can speak with unreserve, on whose regard you can place dependence, or whose counsel, in any difficulty, you could rely on. You feel all this?

You’d think that she would feel all this after losing the friend who had been side-by-side with her for weeks.  I think most people would; I certainly have felt it more than once, no matter if the friend was lost through betrayal or simply a change of geography or school.  But oddly, she says no, she doesn’t.  But she doesn’t know why.

Isabella has shown herself to be a golddigger; Captain Tilney has shown himself to be a player who talked big and trifled with her heart, then threw her over for somebody else.  Now she writes to Catherine asking her to plead her case with James.  Catherine sees right through her and decides not to write to James on her behalf, or to Isabella ever again.

I feel for Catherine as she suffers the disappointment of learning a dear friend’s true character, of having to give up that friend because they are not what they seemed.  But fortunately for Catherine, she has Eleanor and Henry to soothe her spirits.

General Tilney soon unceremoniously tosses Catherine out of the abbey, without reason other than a previously remembered engagement, after she and Eleanor had just decided that she’d stay another few weeks.

He’d been catering to Catherine’s every need for all this time, treating her better than he treated his own children, practically throwing her at Henry–and now he’s ordered her to take the first cab home, 70 miles, without even a servant to attend her.

Henry, the romantic hero, soon follows her to her home, proposes, and tells her what happened.  Of course, the 1987 movie version has a much more dramatic and romantic proposal scene than the book does.  (Sorry for the bad quality: It’s apparently the only video the BBC has not bumped off Youtube.)  But the book goes into more detail about the misunderstandings:

John Thorpe, in his usual self-promoting bluster, first told General Tilney that Catherine was an heiress; then in the sting of disappointment (since Catherine refused him), and not being able to get James and Isabella back together, he went the other way, telling the general that the Morlands were poor and disreputable fortune-hunters.  He claimed he’d been misled by James’ own vain boasting.

The movie’s depiction of the argument between Henry and his father [sorry, this got bumped, too] is more satisfying dramatically, making me wish that the many details in the book had been shown rather than told.  So even the great classic works suffer from this every once in a while.

Catherine’s parents are willing, but want the general to consent as well.  Rather than acting like golddiggers who want a share of the general’s money, they’re quite willing for Catherine to live on Henry’s own income as a parson.  But until the general consents, Catherine and Henry must wait.

This seems impossible, until Eleanor makes a good match herself and puts him in good humor.  Eleanor has been forced apart for years by her father from this man, but he’s suddenly come into money and title.  General Tilney discovers that far from being dirt-poor, Catherine’s parents are able to give her 3000 pounds.  He soon forgives Henry, who then marries Catherine.  So just as in Mysteries of Udolpho, there is finally a happy ending.

The funny part about Henry’s love of Catherine is how it began: He truly loves her now, but it

originated in nothing better than gratitude, or, in other words, that a persuasion of her partiality for him had been the only cause of giving her a second thought.

It is a new circumstance in romance, I acknowledge, and dreadfully derogatory of a heroine’s dignity; but if it be as new in common life, the credit of a wild imagination will at least be all my own.

This is a fun little book, only 212 pages, a quick and easy read.  Time to re-watch the movie, and see if the Masterpiece Theater version (from around 2008) is still on Youtube…..

The 1987 movie: This one makes all sorts of changes from the novel, and the way it chops up Mysteries of Udolpho is scandalous (that is NOT what’s behind the black veil). But it’s still lots of fun to watch, I love the ending song, Peter Firth is a handsome and funny Tilney (I love the way he says “gloomy”), and the ending is charmingly romantic–so much so that I wish it were that way in the book.

It also has some great lines that aren’t in the book: “Never underestimate the power of [a woman’s] refusal”; “I promise not to oppress you with too much remorse or too much passion, though since you left the white rose bush has died of grief.”  The last is one I often think of when someone I care about is gone.

The 2007 movie: This one is far more faithful to the book, though it also takes many liberties (such as Catherine’s dreams based on The Monk, and what Captain Tilney does with Isabella at the end).  But at least, like the 1987 movie, it has Henry Tilney arriving on a white horse…. Watch the movie here.

[Finished 1/30/11]

 

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