The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
from “October” by Robert Frost
THE PENGUIN BOOK OF WITCHES
Edited by Katherine Howe
Carefully and thoroughly researched, Howe brings together primary source documents and accounts of witchcraft in England and colonial America. It is fascinating to read trial transcripts and witness statements, all done with the utmost seriousness and official tone, that try to make sense of terrifying events around them.
Selections include Daemonologie (1597) by King James I, A Tryal of Witches (1662) in Bury St. Edmunds, and numerous accounts from Salem including the Examinations of Sarah Good, Sarah Osburn and Tituba (1692).
This description from Reginald Scot’s The Discouerie of Witchcraft (1584) sheds some light on why only the disenfranchised seemed to be accused of being witches.
One sort of such as are said to be witches are women which be commonly old, lame, bleary-eyed, pale, foul, and full of wrinkles; poor, sullen, superstitious, and papists; or such as know no religion, in whose drowsy minds the Devil hath bought a fine seat. … These miserable wretches are so odious unto all their neighbors and so feared, as few dare offend them or deny them anything they ask.
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Penguin Classics (September 30, 2014)
Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5 x 0.6 inches
Thank you to Andrea at Penguin for the review copy.
By Edward Carey
In the first of a series aimed at young adults, Carey introduces the vastly incapable Iremonger family who lives among piles of trash. The hero, Clod, is able to hear each of these objects speak and finds living among the heaps decidedly distracting. Additionally, each member of the family has their own object, given at birth and connected to them for life.
Drawing on the style of the Series of Unfortunate Events and The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, Carey presents a grey existence for children and adults alike in this skewed view of London’s environs.
It was a wonderful danger. How I should have loved to wade further, to be out of my depth, to feel the heap deep beneath me, cold and enormous. Out in the heaps, there were such things, things from far beyond our home, things from other lives. So we sifted and found for the family and brought things back, lugged bits and pieces over to the Iremonger walls, and took them inside for salvage. Woe betide the Iremonder child that came back clean from a morning or afternoon spent out in the heaps. Out clothes were most carefully inspected at the end of a sifting day, our gloves must be black, our shirts thick with grime, our top hats dented or ripped, but not missing, our knees bruised and bloody, and our snot full of dirt. ~Pg. 37
The storytelling is a bit haphazard and there are some small inconsistencies in the world-building. Younger readers might find it a frustrating book. Save it for teens or advanced readers.
Series: The Iremonger Trilogy
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Overlook Juvenile (October 15, 2014)
Thank you to Overlook Press for the review copy.
HOW TO SPEAK BRIT
By Christopher J. Moore
In glossary style, the author of In Other Words pulls together a handful of peculiar British words and phrases that are rather unused in America.
As an ardent Anglophile myself, I was hard-pressed to find any entries that were unknown to me. The second half of the book is more likely to contain a phrase or two that is particularly colloquial.
Load of cobblers (noun phrase): Colorful slang meaning a lot of rubbish or nonsense. Definitely not suitable for use in polite company.
Naff (adjective): Uncool or lacking style in a way that is uniquely British and frequently eccentric.
Moore also adds context for how these might be used in Britain as well as the probable etymology.
One that was not included, that I wish had been, is scrumpy or scrumping. It’s a fabulous word that I learned while visiting the UK. To go scrumping is to steal apples off someone elses trees in order to use them to make cider.
And cider that is especially potent or unrefined is referred to as scrumpy. It’s such a fine word. Try saying it in your best British accent. Now I need a good tart and scrumpy cider.
Thanks to Gotham Books for the review copy.
Hardcover: 128 pages
Publisher: Gotham (September 11, 2014)
Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
THE PAYING GUESTS
By Sarah Waters
Just after WWI, a mother and daughter are forced by financial circumstance to take on boarders. The Barbers, a young married couple, rent the upstairs rooms and they are suddenly expected to have overlapping lives.
Something Waters does do incredibly well is build up unnamed tension. Something’s not right but the reader isn’t sure what that something is. Additionally, her characters are extremely well-drawn, each with an unmistakable personality. The trouble is, it takes far too long for anything to actually happen.
She had found a spot on the rail where the paint was chipped, exposing several older colours, right down to the pale raw wood beneath. Running her fingers over the flaw, she said, “You don’t think about all these colours when everything’s going all right; you’d go mad if you did. You just think about the colour on the top. But those colours are there all the same. All the quarrels, and the bits of unkindness. ~Pg. 95
It is these bits of insight that are a strength to the novel. Unfortunately they don’t push along any action.
Thanks to Riverhead (Penguin) for a review copy.
Hardcover: 576 pages
Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover (September 16, 2014)
Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1.9 inches