If you remember way back in September I decided to take part in R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril X hosted this year by the Estella Society. The goal was simple; read books that embody the “halloween” or “fall” spirit. The spooky, the chillers, the thrillers. There were also options for short stories and movies, which I also took part in.
Peril the Second: Read two books of any length that you believe fit within the R.I.P.categories.
The first book read for RIPX was “Daughters of Witching Hill” by Mary Sharratt, a fictional retelling of the events of the Pendle Witch trails that took place in Lancashire, England in 1612. As someone who got pretty hooked on the Salem witch trials (and honestly the interest hasn’t let go, I really want “The Witches by Stacy Schiff, and honestly I wore my Salem, Mass. “It’s a wicked good time” shirt yesterday without shame) it was interesting to read about another witch trial in a different country that had very different causes (this one being old white men threatened by women). I’ve had this book for awhile and never got around to reading it, but I’m very thankful for RIPX for giving me the push to finally read it. I very much enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone interested in anything to do with witches, witch trials, life in the 1600s, ect. You can find my review here.
The second book I read for RIPX was actually a reread of “Wicked” by Gregory Maguire. I can’t really explain the relationship I had with this book. I remember reading it in high school and it felt like my first “grown up” book. It was the first book I read with sex in it, anyways. But it was the bandaid I ripped that got me into reading more “grown up” books. Beyond that I genuinely love this book. You might be more familiar with the Broadway musical by the same name and roughly based on it. This is a very rare occurrence, because even though the musical lightened the themes and basically “disney-fied” it, I still love both versions. Both have a place in my heart and I honestly don’t dislike the completely different adaptation.
Peril On the Screen: This is for those of us that like to watch suitably scary, eerie, mysterious gothic fare during this time of year. It may be something on the small screen or large. It might be a television show, like Dark Shadows or Midsomer Murders, or your favorite film
For this part of the RIPX challenge I threw myself a mini Johnny Depp marathon, because honestly when you think “scary, eerie, mysterious gothic fare” who else are you going to watch? I watched “Sleepy Hollow”, “From Hell”, and finally “Sweeney Todd”. Jokingly, I pointed out that it was like a trilogy, where Johnny Depp goes from investigating murders to eventually having enough of it and becoming the psycho murderer himself.
Of the three I think “Sweeney Todd” is still my favorite. They’re all fantastic, of course, but Sweeney Todd was my first Rated R flick. (What’s with this pattern of my first “grown up” stuff being creepy musicals about murderers?) I have a love-hate relationship with “From Hell”, on one hand it’s a pretty okay movie with Johnny Depp and Robbie Coltrane (not playing a giant). It also has the added bonus of being about my favorite serial killer in history (Jack The Ripper). Sadly, it’s just an okay movie, and it’s even less of an okay adaptation of an amazing graphic novel of the same name by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell.
Since I’ve never met Johnny Depp and have in fact met Eddie Campbell, and Eddie Campbell drew me a little Jack the Ripper; novel wins out.
Peril of the Short Story:We are big fans of short stories and the desire for them is perhaps no greater than in Autumn.
I technically read two books that were anthologies of short stories by two authors. The first was “Major Tales and Poems” by Edgar Allan Poe. You can find more about this in my midway recap of the challenge. I fell in love with Poe right around the time I got interested in the Salem witch trials. When you go to read Poe, Poe Delivers. The real surprises were the stories of his detective Dupin, which I found to be some of my favorites of the lot.
Which leads me to the next set of short stories. I finally got around to reading my “Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle book. Originally published in 1812, it is a collection of 12 Holmes stories. Each of the Holmes stories has relatively the same structure; Watson describes the mundane happenings without a case, Holmes bursts in with a case, the person coming to them with it shows up rather suddenly, the case it told, Holmes disappears for a bit comes back, drags Watson to go solve it. The police procedurals of the 1800s, and yet each just as interesting as the last. Of the 12 I read, 2 I had already read, and I would have to say my favorites include “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” and “A Case of Identity”
My RIPX reading will be continuing into November as I just got my hands on “The Library at Mount Char” by Scott Hawkins, and fully intend on buying “The Witches” by Stacy Schiff this month as well. I fully enjoyed this challenge. As I said when I signed up, this is my literary weakness. I’ve never been one for the typical Halloween “Thrillers” or “Slashers” but give me a good Gothic novel or psychological chiller and I’m good to go. I love the symbolism in the genre and the history of it. I can’t wait for it to come back around next year.