Friday, 18 January 2013

Book Review: Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling by Michael Boccacino

“I have seen beyond the bounds of infinity and drawn down daemons from the stars...I have harnessed the shadows that stride from world to world to sow death and madness...”
(“From Beyond”, H.P. Lovecraft) 

Charlotte Markham is haunted by death. As a young child she witnessed a man in black appear at her sick mother’s bedside before she took her last breath, then again whilst her father’s heart gave out and finally when her husband saved her from their burning house. And although she suspects that the man in black is death she is unsure why she is privy to his visits.

 After the death of her husband, Charlotte finds work at Everton House as governess to the two Darrow children; it is on the grounds at Everton that her fellow employee and friend, Nanny Prum, is found murdered. Nanny Prum’s murder sets in motion a series of events which places Charlotte as both Nanny and governess to the children.

After a series of unexplainable events, the children set off on a quest to follow a map based on Paul (the eldest Darrow child) dream which leads them deep into the forest on Everton Estate. It isn’t before too long that Charlotte and the children find themselves enveloped in mist; an invisible threshold separating two worlds, the living and The Ending. It is here at The Ending that they come across the House of Darkling where, the late mistress of Everton, Lily Darrow has patiently been waiting.

The House of Darkling is full of strange and wonderful things, a place where death does not exist and of which, The Ending’s inhabitants crave more than their own immortality. Although the House of Darkling frightens Charlotte, she finds herself drawn to its many wonders including its master, Mr Whatley, who seems to hold the secrets to not only the mysterious death of Nanny Prum but of her past and the man in black.

Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling breathe life back into gothic fantasy, reminiscent of the genius of H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe, Baudelaire, Neil Gaiman and Tim Burton. Boccacino’s prose is simply beautiful and I found myself lost in the conjured nightscape of The Ending and its unusual inhabitants.

For a debut novel, this was brilliant, both in its writing style and original storyline.  This novel was indeed strangely intoxicating and I found myself finishing it within the day. I simply can’t believe I left it sitting on my “to read” bookshelf for so long! I would recommend this novel to anyone who admires the abovementioned likes of Poe, Lovecraft and Burton; you will be enchanted by the gothic horrors of The Ending.    


Tuesday, 8 January 2013

In which I love Parisian cool: Isabel Marant

Isabel Marant Dicker Boots

Being a mother has it's 'ugly' days and although I adore my two handsome little boys, occasionally I feel the need to splash out on some gorgeous 'must have' fashion item and look the part without feeling so mumsy; whether that be a jacket, boots, jeans or even a new lipstick - I like to purchase  staple items that I know I will continue to wear for years to come.

A few years ago I came across the designer Isabel Marant; this was prior to her becoming one of the most wanted designers on every fashionistas wish list, her dicker boots, little mini dresses & structured jackets iconic. I had forgotten about her until suddenly, her dicker boots seemed to be in my face on every magazine

Now I understand WHY these boots are so coveted; they are, without a doubt, THE most comfortable ankle boots I have ever owned, so much so, that I also went out and purchased them in Anthracite, Taupe and Camel. With all the running around I do I basically live in ballet flats or boots (during winter), so buying heeled ankle boots and being comfortable in them is a big deal (believe me); I only own one pair of heels which make do for any and all special occasion moments. The best thing about these boots is that they look great dressed up or down.

Apart from her super comfortable dicker boots, I also recently purchased the Hoani jacket which was on sale and I must admit, it's gorgeous. Each outing I've worn it, I've received endless compliments (aka boost to self confidence after second child), it's so well cut and structured, it's easy to understand why Isabel Marant is such a unique and coveted designer.

And now I ponder, do I need them in leather *wink*

Book Review: Citadel by Kate Mosse

5 STARS*****

“Come forth the spirits of the air. Come forth the armies of the air.
Every death remembered.
Those who died so others might live, those who gave their lives and now live.
Then, when the battle is over, they shall sleep once more”
-          Citadel, Kate Mosse 
Citadel is Kate Mosses’ third instalment in her widely acclaimed Languedoc trilogy and is set amongst the picturesque Southern France, in Carcassonne. The novel is split into two distinct stories; the first is set around the monk Arinius. Arinius is on a quest to ensure the safety of a Codex, condemned by the church as heretical. Little does he know, the Codex holds within its verses, the ability to raise a ghost army.
The second is set around the spirited Sandrine Vidal, a young women living in Carcassonne during World War II. After her father’s death she is raised by her sister and housekeeper and is all but ignorant to the world changing around her. Sandrine’s world abruptly changes when she almost drowns attempting to save another man drowning in the Aude, from then on, she discovers her sister is secretly part of a network helping the resistance and together, with other like minded women, form the Citadel network.
The characters in Citadel mimic those of their predecessors, as though their lives have already been mapped before them; there are glimpses of Alais in Sandrine and of Guilhem in Raoul. Their relationship is fuelled by their passion to preserve Carcassonne and its people, to exploit the truths that the Nazi’s try, unsuccessfully so, to keep hidden. Just ordinary people refusing to give in to the capture and torture of the place they lived and its people.
Like Labyrinth and Sepulchre, Kate Mosse doesn’t fail to disappoint, her characters are well developed and her story flows effortlessly – you truly lose yourself in its labyrinth of pages. It is a remarkable novel and by the end, like I, you will have your heart in your mouth and although bittersweet, it bought the story of the Languedoc to a beautiful finale.