Friday, September 21, 2012

The Blackened Cottage

The Blackened Cottage is a beautifully conceived and executed gothic novel by A. E. Richards.
Richards has managed to interweave all of the excruciatingly bleak, painful, and horrific elements of the classic gothic novel into her new book. The heroine, Lisabeth Cutteridge has been moved by her father to a gloomy cottage in the woods, far from civilization. Lisabeth is lonely and terrified by her father's descent into madness. Because her mother has disappeared from their lives, Lisabeth is bound to her father, despite his madness, in order to care for her young brother, Eddie. An odd disfigured girl named Bethan is her only friend, a true friend who comes to her rescue after Charles Cutteridge sends Eddie to London to boarding school and imprisons Lisabeth to force her marriage to a repulsive Frenchman, Jean Bernard. Lisabeth runs away through the woods, escaping not only her father but also a madwoman living in the woods who believes Lisabeth to be her long dead daughter. Lisabeth catches the eye of a psychopath whose intentions for her are deadly dark but manages to escape to London with the help of an itinerant preacher and his servant, Jojo. The atmosphere created in the book is gloomy and horrific. Our emotional and imperiled heroine suffers from nightmares and a past she cannot remember and encounters madness and evil at every turn in her quest for escape and peace. Will Lisabeth ever find the true escape that she craves or will she spend the rest of her life running from both real and imagined horrors until her life ends in tragedy?

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