Friday, July 20, 2018

📘🎥Friday's Film Adaptation🎥📘: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens


Summary:
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times"

The story is set in the late 18th century against the background of the French Revolution. Although Dickens borrowed from Thomas Carlyle's history, The French Revolution, for his sprawling tale of London and revolutionary Paris, the novel offers more drama than accuracy.

The scenes of large-scale mob violence are especially vivid, if superficial in historical understanding. The complex plot involves Sydney Carton's sacrifice of his own life on behalf of his friends Charles Darnay and Lucie Manette. While political events drive the story, Dickens takes a decidedly antipolitical tone, lambasting both aristocratic tyranny and revolutionary excess--the latter memorably caricatured in Madame Defarge, who knits beside the guillotine.

When former aristocrat Charles Darnay learns that an old family servant needs his help, he abandons his safe haven in England and returns to Paris. But once there, the Revolutionary authorities arrest him not for anything he has done, but for his rich family's crimes. Also in danger: his wife, Lucie, their young daughter, and her aged father, who have followed him across the Channel.



Chapter 1
The Period
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

There were a king with a large jaw, and a queen with a plain face, on the throne of England; there were a king with a large jaw, and a queen with a fair face, on the throne of France. In both countries it was clearer than crystal to the lords of the State preserves of loaves and fishes, that things in general were settled for ever.

It was the year of Our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five. Spiritual revelations were conceded to England at that favoured period, as at this. Mrs. Southcott had recently attained her five-and-twentieth blessed birthday, of whom a prophetic private in the Life Guards had heralded the sublime appearance by announcing that arrangements were made for the swallowing up of London and Westminster. Even the Cock-lane ghost had been laid only a round dozen of years, after rapping out its messages, as the spirits of this very year last past (supernaturally deficient in originality) rapped out theirs. Mere messages in the earthly order of events had lately come to the English Crown and People, from a congress of British subjects in America: which, strange to relate, have proved more important to the human race than any communications yet received through any of the chickens of the Cock-lane brood.

France, less favoured on the whole as to matters spiritual than her sister of the shield and trident, rolled with exceeding smoothness down hill, making paper money and spending it. Under the guidance of her Christian pastors, she entertained herself, besides, with such humane achievements as sentencing a youth to have his hands cut off, his tongue torn out with pincers, and his body burned alive, because he had not kneeled down in the rain to do honour to a dirty procession of monks which passed within his view, at a distance of some fifty or sixty yards. It is likely enough that, rooted in the woods of France and Norway, there were growing trees, when that suffer was put to death, already marked by the Woodman, Fate, to come down and be sawn into boards, to make a certain movable framework with a sack and a knife in it, terrible in history. It is likely enough that in the rough outhouses of some tillers of the heavy lands adjacent to paris, there were sheltered from the weather that very day, rude carts, bespattered with rustic mire, snuffed about by pigs, and roosted in by poultry, which the Farmer, Death, had already set apart to be his tumbrils of the Revolution. But that Woodman and that Farmer, though they work unceasingly, work silently, and no one heard them as they went about with muffled tread: the rather, forasmuch as to entertain any suspicion that they were awake, was to be atheistical and traitorous.

In England, there was scarcely an amount of order and protection to justify much national boasting. Daring burglaries by armed men, and highway robberies, took place in the capital itself every night; families were publicly cautioned not to go out of town without removing their furniture to upholsterers' warehouses for security; the highwayman in the dark was a City tradesman in the light, and, being recognised and challenged by his fellow-tradesman whom he stopped in his character of "the Captain," gallently shot him through the head and rode away; the mail was waylaid by seven robbers, and the guard shot three dead, and then got shot dead himself by the other four, "in consequence of the failure of his ammunition": after which the mail was robbed in peace; that magnificent potentate, the lord Mayor of london, was made to stand and deliver on Turnham Green by one highwayman, who despoiled the illustrious creature in sight of all his retinue; prisoners in London gaols fought battles with their turnkeys, and the majesty of the law fired blunderbusses in among them, loaded with rounds of shot and ball; thieves snipped off diamond crosses from the necks of noble lords at Court drawing-rooms; musketeers went into St. Gile's, to search for contraband goods, and the mob fired on the musketeers, and the musketeers fired on the mob, and nobody thought any of these occurrences much out of the common way. In the midst of them, the hangman, ever busy and ever worse than useless, was in constant requisition; now, stringing up long rows of miscellaneous criminals; now, hanging a housebreaker on Saturday who had been taken on Tuesday; now, burning people in the hand at Newgate by the dozen, and now, burning pamphlets at the door of Westminster Hall; to-day, taking the life of an atrocious murderer, and to-morrow of a wretched pilferer who had robbed a farmer's boy of sixpence.

All these things, and a thousand like them, came to pass in and close upon the dear old year one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five. Environed by them, while the Woodman and the Farmer worked unheeded, those two of the large jaws, and those other two of the plain and the fair faces, trod with stir enough, and carried their divine rights with a high hand. Thus did the year one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five conduct their Greatnesses, and myriads of small creatures—the creatures of this chronicle among the rest—along the roads that lay before them.

Chapter II
The Mail
It was the Dover road that lay, on a Friday night late in November, before the first of the persons with whom this history has business. The Dover road lay, as to him, beyond the Dover mail, as it lumbered up Shooter's Hill. He walked up hill in the mire by the side of the mail, as the rest of the passengers did; not because they had the least relish for walking exercise, under the circumstances, but because the hill, and the harness, and the mud, and the mail, were all so heavy, that the horses had three times already come to a stop, besides once drawing the coach across the road, with the mutinous intent of taking it back to Blackheath. Reins and whip and coachman and guard, however, in combination, had read that article of war which forbade a purpose otherwise strongly in favour of the argument, that some brute animals are endued with Reason; and the team had capitulated and returned to their duty.

With drooping heads and tremulous tails, they mashed their way through the thick mud, floundering and stumbling between whiles, as if they were falling to pieces at the larger joints. As often as the driver rested them and brought them to a stand, with a wary "Wo-ho! so-ho- then!" the near leader violently shook his head and everything upon it--like an unusually emphatic horse, denying that the coach could be got up the hill. Whenever the leader made this rattle, the passenger started, as a nervous passenger might, and was disturbed in mind.

There was a steaming mist in all the hollows, and it had roamed in its forlornness up the hill, like an evil spirit, seeking rest and finding none. A clammy and intensely cold mist, it made its slow way through the air in ripples that visibly followed and overspread one another, as the waves of an unwholesome sea might do. It was dense enough to shut out everything from the light of the coach-lamps but these its own workings, and a few yards of road; and the reek of the labouring horses steamed into it, as if they had made it all.

Two other passengers, besides the one, were plodding up the hill by the side of the mail. All three were wrapped to the cheekbones and over the ears, and wore jack-boots. Not one of the three could have said, from anything he saw, what either of the other two was like; and each was hidden under almost as many wrappers from the eyes of the mind, as from the eyes of the body, of his two companions. In those days, travellers were very shy of being confidential on a short notice, for anybody on the road might be a robber or in league with robbers. As to the latter, when every posting-house and ale-house could produce somebody in "the Captain's" pay, ranging from the landlord to the lowest stable non-descript, it was the likeliest thing upon the cards. So the guard of the Dover mail thought to himself, that Friday night in November, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five, lumbering up Shooter's Hill, as he stood on his own particular perch behind the mail, beating his feet, and keeping an eye and a hand on the arm-chest before him, where a loaded blunderbuss lay at the top of six or eight loaded horse-pistols, deposited on a substratum of cutlass.

The Dover mail was in its usual genial position that the guard suspected the passengers, the passengers suspected one another and the guard, they all suspected everybody else, and the coachman was sure of nothing but the horses; as to which cattle he could with a clear conscience have taken his oath on the two Testaments that they were not fit for the journey.

"Wo-ho!" said the coachman. "So, then! One more pull and you're at the top and be damned to you, for I have had trouble enough to get you to it!--Joe!"

"Halloa!" the guard replied.

"What o'clock do you make it, Joe?"

"Ten minutes, good, past eleven."

"My blood!" ejaculated the vexed coachman, "and not atop of Shooter's yet! Tst! Yah! Get on with you! "

The emphatic horse, cut short by the whip in a most decided negative, made a decided scramble for it, and the three other horses followed suit. Once more, the Dover mail struggled on, with the jack-boots of its passengers squashing along by its side. They had stopped when the coach stopped, and they kept close company with it. If any one of the three had had the hardihood to propose to another to walk on a little ahead into the mist and darkness, he would have put himself in a fair way of getting shot instantly as a highwayman.

The last burst carried the mail to the summit of the hill. The horses stopped to breathe again, and the guard got down to skid the wheel for the descent, and open the coach-door to let the passengers in.

"Tst! Joe!" cried the coachman in a warning voice, looking down from his box.

"What do you say, Tom?"

They both listened.

"I say a horse at a canter coming up, Joe."

"_I_ say a horse at a gallop, Tom," returned the guard, leaving his hold of the door, and mounting nimbly to his place. "Gentlemen! In the kings name, all of you!"

With this hurried adjuration, he cocked his blunderbuss, and stood on the offensive.

The passenger booked by this history, was on the coach-step, getting in; the two other passengers were close behind him, and about to follow. He remained on the step, half in the coach and half out of; they re-mained in the road below him. They all looked from the coachman to the guard, and from the guard to the coachman, and listened. The coachman looked back and the guard looked back, and even the emphatic leader pricked up his ears and looked back, without contradicting.

The stillness consequent on the cessation of the rumbling and and labouring of the coach, added to the stillness of the night, made it very quiet indeed. The panting of the horses communicated a tremulous motion to the coach, as if it were in a state of agitation. The hearts of the passengers beat loud enough perhaps to be heard; but at any rate, the quiet pause was audibly expressive of people out of breath, and holding the breath, and having the pulses quickened by expectation.

The sound of a horse at a gallop came fast and furiously up the hill.

"So-ho!" the guard sang out, as loud as he could roar. "Yo there! Stand! I shall fire!"

The pace was suddenly checked, and, with much splashing and floundering, a man's voice called from the mist, "Is that the Dover mail?"

"Never you mind what it is!" the guard retorted. "What are you?"

"IS that the Dover mail?"

"Why do you want to know?"

"I want a passenger, if it is."

"What passenger?"

"Mr. Jarvis Lorry."

Our booked passenger showed in a moment that it was his name. The guard, the coachman, and the two other passengers eyed him distrustfully.

"Keep where you are," the guard called to the voice in the mist, "because, if I should make a mistake, it could never be set right in your lifetime. Gentleman of the name of Lorry answer straight."

"What is the matter?" asked the passenger, then, with mildly quavering speech. "Who wants me? Is it Jerry?"

("I don't like Jerry's voice, if it is Jerry," growled the guard to himself. "He's hoarser than suits me, is Jerry.")

"Yes, Mr. Lorry."

"What is the matter?"

"A despatch sent after you from over yonder. T. and Co."

"I know this messenger, guard," said Mr. Lorry, getting down into the road--assisted from behind more swiftly than politely by the other two passengers, who immediately scrambled into the coach, shut the door, and pulled up the window. "He may come close; there's nothing wrong."

"I hope there ain't, but I can't make so 'Nation sure of that," said the guard, in gruff soliloquy. "Hallo you!"

"Well! And hallo you!" said Jerry, more hoarsely than before.

"Come on at a footpace! d'ye mind me? And if you've got holsters to that saddle o' yourn, don't let me see your hand go nigh 'em. For I'm a devil at a quick mistake, and when I make one it takes the form of Lead. So now let's look at you."

The figures of a horse and rider came slowly through the eddying mist, and came to the side of the mail, where the passenger stood. The rider stooped, and, casting up his eyes at the guard, handed the passenger a small folded paper. The rider's horse was blown, and both horse and rider were covered with mud, from the hoofs of the horse to the hat of the man.

"Guard!" said the passenger, in a tone of quiet business confidence.

The watchful guard, with his right hand at the stock of his raised blunderbuss, his left at the barrel, and his eye on the horseman, answered curtly, "Sir."

"There is nothing to apprehend. I belong to Tellson's Bank. You must know Tellson's Bank in London. I am going to Paris on business. A crown to drink. I may read this?"

"If so be as you're quick, sir."

He opened it in the light of the coach-lamp on that side, and read--first to himself and then aloud: "`Wait at Dover for Mam'selle.' It's not long, you see, guard. Jerry, say that my answer was, RECALLED TO LIFE."

Jerry started in his saddle. "That's a Blazing strange answer, too," said he, at his hoarsest.

"Take that message back, and they will know that I received this, as well as if I wrote. Make the best of your way. Good night."

With those words the passenger opened the coach-door and got in; not at all assisted by his fellow-passengers, who had expeditiously secreted their watches and purses in their boots, and were now making a general pretence of being asleep. With no more definite purpose than to escape the hazard of originating any other kind of action.

The coach lumbered on again, with heavier wreaths of mist closing round it as it began the descent. The guard soon replaced his blunderbuss in his arm-chest, and, having looked to the rest of its contents, and having looked to the supplementary pistols that he wore in his belt, looked to a smaller chest beneath his seat, in which there were a few smith's tools, a couple of torches, and a tinder-box. For he was furnished with that completeness that if the coach-lamps had been blown and stormed out, which did occasionally happen, he had only to shut himself up inside, keep the flint and steel sparks well off the straw, and get a light with tolerable safety and ease (if he were lucky) in five minutes.

"Tom!" softly over the coach roof.

"Hallo, Joe."

"Did you hear the message?"

"I did, Joe."

"What did you make of it, Tom?"

"Nothing at all, Joe."

"That's a coincidence, too," the guard mused, "for I made the same of it myself."

Jerry, left alone in the mist and darkness, dismounted meanwhile, not only to ease his spent horse, but to wipe the mud from his face, and shake the wet out of his hat-brim, which might be capable of holding about half a gallon. After standing with the bridle over his heavily-splashed arm, until the wheels of the mail were no longer within hearing and the night was quite still again, he turned to walk down the hill.

"After that there gallop from Temple Bar, old lady, I won't trust your fore-legs till I get you on the level," said this hoarse messenger, glancing at his mare. "`Recalled to life.' That's a Blazing strange message. Much of that wouldn't do for you, Jerry! I say, Jerry! You'd be in a Blazing bad way, if recalling to life was to come into fashion, Jerry!"


Charles Dickens' classic story of two men in love with the same woman during the French Revolution.

Release Date: December 27, 1935
Release Time: 123 minues

Cast:
Ronald Colman as Sydney Carton
Elizabeth Allan as Lucie Manette
Edna May Oliver as Miss Pross
Reginald Owen as Stryver
Basil Rathbone as Marquis de St. Evremonde
Blanche Yurka as Madame Therese Defarge
Henry B. Walthall as Dr. Manette
Donald Woods as Charles Darnay
Walter Catlett as Barsad
Claude Gillingwater as Jarvis Lorry
H. B. Warner as Gabelle
Fritz Leiber as Gaspard
Lucille La Verne as The Vengeance
Mitchell Lewis as Ernest Defarge
Isabel Jewell as the Seamstress
Tully Marshall as a Woodcutter
Fay Chaldecott as Lucie Darnay
Billy Bevan as Jerry Cruncher
Eily Malyon as Mrs. Cruncher
Donald Haines as Jerry Cruncher, Jr.
E. E. Clive as Judge in Old Bailey
Robert Warwick as Judge at tribunal
Lawrence Grant as a Prosecutor
Ralf Harolde as a Prosecutor
John Davidson as Morveau
Tom Ricketts as Tellson, Jr.
Barlowe Borland as Jacques

Awards:
1935 Academy Awards
Best Editing - Conrad A Nervig - Nominated
Best Picture - Nominated



Author Bio:
One of the grand masters of Victorian literature, Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, in Landport, Portsea, England. He died in Kent on June 9, 1870. The second of eight children of a family continually plagued by debt, the young Dickens came to know not only hunger and privation,but also the horror of the infamous debtors' prison and the evils of child labor. A turn of fortune in the shape of a legacy brought release from the nightmare of prison and "slave" factories and afforded Dickens the opportunity of two years' formal schooling at Wellington House Academy. He worked as an attorney's clerk and newspaper reporter until his Sketches by Boz (1836) and The Pickwick Papers (1837) brought him the amazing and instant success that was to be his for the remainder of his life. In later years, the pressure of serial writing, editorial duties, lectures, and social commitments led to his separation from Catherine Hogarth after twenty-three years of marriage. It also hastened his death at the age of fifty-eight, when he was characteristically engaged in a multitude of work.


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Release Tour: Wednesday by Victoria Danann

Title: Wednesday
Author: Victoria Danann
Series: Witches of Wimberley #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Fantasy
Release Date: July 18, 2018
Summary:
All things magical and mundane happen for a reason. But when romance is involved, that reason may wear a more confusing disguise than usual.

New York Times bestselling author, Victoria Danann, adds some more night magic to the captivating Witches series.

Wednesday's not just a witch. She's a modern woman who doesn't like being told what to do. It's her turn for the spring rites, but she stuns the entire colony by saying no. She further befuddles everyone by refusing to give her reasons. Hoping she'll change her mind, they recruit her friends to apply pressure and proceed with plans as usual.

The warlock, Rally, met Wednesday at a witches' gathering in Aspen. They barely spoke the entire weekend and he didn't think much of it until afterward, when he found himself waking during the night with her on his mind. He could track her down, but to what end? He certainly had no interest in a relationship lasting longer than forty minutes, but it had been months since the brief encounter and he was still being caught by friends, musing about Wednesday instead of listening.

Then one day it came to him that she must have cast some kind of spell. That was all the reason he needed to track her down.

Perhaps he expected to travel a great distance to find a compliant, cooperative, submissive female with inferior magics. One thing was certain. He was not prepared for an aloof witch who couldn't manage to care enough about the accusation to even pretend indignation. When she laughed in his face, said, "Think what you want," and walked away, he was left standing with an open mouth and the ancient hunter's impulse to chase, the essential masculine principle, blooming to life. In his pants.

Find out why readers call this series magical, enchanting, and witching good fun.


“Earth to Rally,” Aodh snapped his fingers in front of Rally’s face. They sat in a dive bar in Key West hoping the party occupying the table next to the oscillating fan would leave so they could grab it. “Even if you were looking at that little blonde who keeps finding reasons to twitch her butt back and forth, you’ve been out of your body long enough to fantasize all the way to great grandchildren.”

The glaze over Rally’s near-yellow eyes cleared as he focused on Aodh. “Hmmm? No. I wasn’t out of body. I wouldn’t do that in the middle of a bar.”

“It was a figure of speech. Geez. What is the matter with you? What do you think is the matter with Rally?” Aodh directed the question to Jean Mar.

“Maybe he’s just out of it because it’s too humid for humans in this place,” said Jean Mar. “Why are we here?”

“Because,” Aodh said, “we’re doing a twenty city bachelor party tour before Rally’s ensnared in the witches’ web.” He chuckled. “For good.” Aodh turned his baseball cap backwards. “Say goodbye to happy days.”

Rally had gotten one of the witches’ invitations to join them for a weekend in Wimberley. He knew about the weekends and their purpose, but had never heard of a warlock being targeted. “You talk too much, Aodh.”

Aodh laughed. “Since when? You know I’m kidding. And there’s a good chance you’re not the one. Or ones.” Aodh turned to Jean Mar. “How many do they ensnare every year?”

“One or two. I think. But watch your words if you don’t want to end up on the auction block.” Jean Mar seemed to be serious about the admonishment, which irritated Aodh. They were supposed to be having fun, preferably at Rally’s expense.

Rally looked at Jean Mar. “It’s not an auction block.”

“Oh, I know,” Jean Mar said. “Supposedly the men who get picked rave about how they wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“But they’re not us. Right?” Aodh added.

“Yeah,” Rally smiled. “But I’m not a man. Not if you mean it in the purely human sense. The sham of bachelor party just went away as your reason to exist today.”

“You’re not going?” Jean Mar’s question sounded like he might be shocked or might be scandalized.

Rally nodded. “Oh, I’m going to the witches’ little farce, but not because I have to and not because I have any intention of being… what did you say? Ensnared?”

Jean Mar looked doubtful. “Then why are you going?”

Rally’s eyes slid to Jean Mar. “For the food.”

Aodh laughed.

Jean Mar shook his head. “Underestimate them at your peril.”

“They’re. Female,” Rally said as if that explained everything in the universe.

“They are,” agreed Jean Mar. He was nodding, but also not joking around. He looked over his shoulder like he was concerned the wrong person would overhear then toward Rally and spoke in a low voice. “They’re also powerful. Like us.”

Rally and Aodh stared at him for a full five beats before bursting into laughter. When that ran its course, Aodh said, “You didn’t hear me right. I said they’re female.”

“Look.” Jean Mar eyes ping ponged between his friends. “We’re not talking about who can lift the biggest shovel of horse shit. I know you’re old. Older than I am. But if you think it follows that they’re magically inferior because they’re women? Well. You’re wrong.”

Rally started to say something, but Aodh held up his hand in a gesture of, ‘Hold on. I’ve got this’.

“When and how did you become an authority on magical equality?” Aodh asked.

Jean Mar slouched back in his chair, took a drink of something spicy with rum, and looked around the room shaking his head. “You don’t really want to know what I think.”

“Sure,” Rally said. “We do.”

“Alright. In a head to head contest, which to my knowledge has never been done, but if it was? They might win.”

Again Aodh and Rally burst into laughter.

“Okay. Tell yourselves whatever you need to.” Then Jean Mar directed a warning to Rally. “Walk into Wimberley full of piss and pride, thinking you’re a god. See what happens.”

Rally sighed deeply then turned up a bottle of Mike’s Hard Lemonade before surprising both his friends by saying. “I’ve already been there.”
“What?!” Jean Mar and Aodh said in unison. “When?!?”


Willem #1
Summary:
Romance that is destiny laced, fantasy infused, and dressed in a little night magic.

If he leaves, he can never come back. But is he dumb enough to get in his car and drive away anyhow?

New York Times bestselling author, Victoria Danann, begins a sizzling new series about an enclave of modern day witches who are sexy, philanthropic and living in the Texas Hill Country. They're selfless to a fault when it comes to generosity, but when it comes to the men they choose for themselves, they don't settle for anything less than the best. 

"Enchanted from the very first page. I couldn't put it down!"- Night Owl Reviews 5* TOP PICK

While waiting for what would probably be his last acting audition ever, the guy standing in line behind Willem gave him a card with a phone number on it and said, "You're a good looking guy. If you're definitely quitting, try the witches."

Willem took the card for the sake of being polite. He planned to throw it away, but didn't. Crazy as it sounded, it seemed like the card was bugging him. It even kept him awake when he put it in the refrigerator.

He called the number, entered the competition and won. Winning meant getting everything he'd never even dared to dream about.

Witch Wants Forever #2
Summary:
YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'VE GOT TILL IT'S GONE.

Only one thing could be worse than never finding the love of your life...finding her and forgetting.

From New York Times bestselling author, Victoria Danann, "mistress of modern romantic fantasy".

"...illustrated that love is the strongest magic of all."

Rachel can't imagine life without Dashiell Fonteneau. They were the kind of couple who believed they were destined to find each other eons before they were born.Married people, but forever lovers.

When Dash goes to Denver on a business trip that was supposed to last for three days and doesn't come home, Rachel finds herself in conflict with the colony at Wimberley over what to do.

The entire community is in complete agreement when they decide magic can't be used to bring him back. They say she'll have to learn to live without him.

"I was tense the entire time I was reading this book. It keep me riveted. I couldn't put it down."


READERS ARE SAYING: It's the perfect blend of angst, humor, and a little night magic.

Author Bio:
Victoria Danann is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty romances. For the past four years in a row, Victoria's Knights of Black Swan series have won prestigious Reviewers' Choice Awards for both BEST PARANORMAL ROMANCE SERIES and PARANORMAL ROMANCE NOVEL OF THE YEAR. This past year three of her series and three of her novels were nominated. Two of her series took the top two places and two of her books took first and second place in the PNR Novel of the Year category.

In addition to vampire hunting knights, Victoria writes other paranormal romance, scifi, fantasy, and contemporary romance.

Victoria is co-host of the popular ROMANCE BETWEEN THE PAGES podcast.


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EMAIL: vdanann@gmail.com



Wednesday #3

Series

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Blogger Review: Balefire by Jordan L Hawk

Summary:
Whyborne’s Endicott relatives have returned to collect on the promise he made to help them take back their ancestral manor from an evil cult. In exchange, they’ll give him the key to deciphering the Wisborg Codex, which Whyborne needs to learn how to stop the masters.

To that end, Whyborne, his husband Griffin, and their friends Iskander and Christine travel to a small island off the coast of Cornwall. But when they arrive at Balefire Manor, Whyborne must not only face the evil within the ancient mansion, but the painful truth about his own destiny.


It's time for Whyborne to make good on his promise to help his Endicott relatives recover the family manor and once that is done he will recieve the key that will help him decipher the Wisborg Codex so he can defeat the masters.  With Griffin, Iskander and Christine at his side, Whyborne makes the trip but what he learns on this mission may not be what he expected.  No one knows what the future holds but destiny on the other hand may already be written but will it bring happiness or heartache?

I really don't know what I can say about Balefire that I haven't already said in reviews for the other entries in the Whyborne & Griffin series, but I'll try.  I really love how both boys have grown throughout their journey.  Whyborne has become more confident without losing his quietness, I hate to use the word "innocence" because he has seen so much evil but he still retains that part of him that borders on naivete.  As for Griffin, well he has always been the more outspoken of the two but he has become more accepting of Whyborne's powers and embraced his own gift. 

As for Christine and Kander, well they just keep on trucking with their friendship to the boys, love for each other, determination to help good prevail over evil, and all the while doing it with wit and wisdom.  I can't imagine anyone not loving Christine's pluckiness but one scene that really stood out for me was even in the face of possible death she was livid over Whyborne's reckless destruction of an archeological find.  I don't think her outrage even lasted a full page but it stood out and was a perfect example of what makes Christine tick and why she has become a fan favorite.  She may be a secondary character with sidekick aspects but there is nothing secondary or sidekicky about her.

Heliabel is along for the journey as the ketoi "ambassador" which I thought was a delightful touch.  She's been around the whole series but I don't think we've ever seen this much of her in one entry.  Watching her step into a motherly role to everyone was lovely, especially Christine.  Now, their talks may not be something we seen on page all the time but you just know they were emotional, straight to the point, and exactly what they both needed.  I'll admit I missed Persephone and Miss Parkhurst but it was only right that they stayed in Widdershins to "hold the fort" as it were.

Balefire is a brilliant entry in Whyborne & Griffin series and the idea that there will be only one more breaks my heart but I know that Jordan L Hawk will bring it to a conclusion we'll never forget.  So if you haven't started Whyborne & Griffin's journey than there's no better time to start and if you are a W&G follower than you certainly don't want to miss this one.

RATING: 


Chapter 1
Griffin
There were monsters in the woods.

I stood in the heart of the Draakenwood, before the twisted tree, in what had once been the seat of Theron Blackbyrne’s power. The place where Nyarlathotep, the Man in the Woods, had taught magic to generations of ambitious sorcerers in exchange for absolute loyalty.

The Draakenwood belonged to him no more. Widdershins had taken it, and the monsters now floating through the boughs and burrowing beneath the soil answered to no creature of the Outside.

The umbrae had placed the entrance to their burrow in the collapsed basement that once underlay Blackbyrne’s manor. Newly churned soil, heaps of stones, and other detritus showed evidence of their digging. The murmur of their conversation thrummed in my skull, like voices halfheard from another room. A worker slithered past, and I stretched out a hand to touch its gelid form.

“How are you settling in?” I asked.

If anyone had told me even as recently as two years ago, that I would stand unafraid among the creatures that haunted my worst nightmares, I would have called them mad. If they’d told me I would willingly invite the umbrae into the forest immediately outside of a populous town, my reaction would have been one of unmitigated horror.

Now, the Queen of Shadows regarded me through a single burning eye with a tripartite pupil.

She coiled in the main entrance of the new nest, her segmented body just small enough to fit inside a freight car. Someday she would be as vast as her mother in Alaska, as long as the train that had brought her here.

Her voice replied in my mind. “This is a good place, Brother. We burrow into the tunnels already here, expand them. Some are blocked; we will excavate them and learn where they might lead. The first gardens are already planted. The first nursery will be ready soon.”

“That’s good,” I said. “I’m glad to hear it.”

“Your brother-by-blood did not come with you today?”

“No.” Jack had accompanied the new queen, her attendant soldiers, and her workers on the long trip from the Alaskan wilderness. The bribes to get the cargo crates they hid in from Hoarfrost to a Whyborne Railroad train in San Francisco had been enormous, but Niles bankrolled the project and put Jack in his pay during the transfer. “Jack is working with me now. I’ve hired him on to assist with my detective agency.”

Money and detectives meant nothing to the umbrae. But they understood family very well indeed, so I let her feel my joy at seeing Jack again, along with my hopes for working with him in the future.

Pressure spiked in my head, and the taste of blood began to seep into my mouth. Human minds weren’t meant to communicate with the umbrae. “He will remain here with us,” she said. “This is good.”

“Widdershins knows its own,” I said ruefully. “And the Draakenwood belongs to Widdershins now. Somehow.” I wasn’t entirely clear on what the maelstrom had done to expand its influence after defeating Stanford and breaking the hold of the Man in the Woods.

A worker—perhaps the one I’d touched before—ventured toward me. This time its gelatinous body glided over my feet, picking away leaf detritus from my shoes, in much the same way as it would have cleaned any debris from the Queen of Shadows.

“All the children recognize you as one of ours.” The Queen of Shadows touched me with one of her feelers, slick and cool against my face.

I should have been horrified by the thought. Or wondered what was wrong with me, that my  adoptive human mother had rejected me, but the Mother of Shadows and all her spawn claimed me as one of their own.

This was the second of her daughters I’d met. The first little queen had hatched prematurely, thanks to the Endicotts, and would never have a warren of her own. The queen before me was her younger sister, laid and hatched later. We’d never set eyes on one another before last week, but that meant nothing to a species which communed directly from mind-to-mind.

The tang of blood grew stronger in the back of my throat. Though I had been changed by my encounters with the umbrae, I could still only remain in telepathic contact for a short time. “I’m glad you’re settling in. I’ll come back soon.”

“You can always use the Occultum Lapidem,” she reminded me. “It will be easier to speak to me through it, than with our mother so far away.”

“I know. Thank you.” I stood up and dusted myself off. “I’ll call upon you if I have any need, trust me.”

“You will have need.” She paused. “When the masters return, we will all have need of one another.”

It was why we had brought her here, to the Draakenwood. And yet, her words threatened to peel back the thin veneer covering my fear. The masters were coming, unless we discovered some method of stopping their arrival. Even if we fought them and triumphed, the thought of what we might lose in the process filled me with dread. The people I loved most in the world would be the first to fight, and I couldn’t allow myself to consider the prospect all of us might not survive.

“You’re right,” I agreed as I turned away. “We most assuredly will.”

Chapter 2
Whyborne
“Done?” I asked my husband as he emerged from the pit where the entrance to the umbrae’s tunnels lay.

Summer had come to Widdershins, which meant my wait had been at least superficially pleasant. The roots of the gargantuan tree overlooking the ruins of Blackbyrne’s house offered a relatively comfortable seat, and a nearby sapling a convenient place to hang my coat and hat. Fireflies danced amidst the dense green foliage, like a thousand fairies tempting incautious mortals to join their revels. Night birds called to one another: whip-poor-wills whistled madly, occasionally falling silent at the hoot of an owl.

The scene would have been perfect, if it hadn’t also been where I’d murdered my brother.

Murdered was perhaps too strong a word. Persephone and I shoved him through a rip in the veil and into the Outside, where he had presumably perished. Though Stanford had a better chance at survival than most, having grafted something of the Outside onto his own body, Nyarlathotep showed no mercy toward those who had failed him.

Griffin approached my perch, dusting off the knees of his trousers as he did so. “Yes. I think the umbrae will flourish here.” The light of my lantern revealed his smile. “I’d never have thought I’d sleep sounder knowing there are monsters in the woods, but there you have it.”

I summoned a chuckle, though I didn’t really feel like laughing. “Agreed.”

Griffin cocked his head. “Is something wrong, my dear?”

“Oh, nothing.” Or everything. I’d settled dangerous creatures beneath the woods adjoining a busy town. There was a very long list of people who wanted me dead. The end of the world was coming, and I didn’t know how to stop it. “I’m fine. It’s a beautiful evening, isn’t it?”

I glanced reflexively at the gigantic trunk of the tree as I spoke. The very spot where we’d tossed Stanford out of our world.

Griffin, of course, noticed immediately. “I’m sorry. I didn’t think. Naturally you have bad memories of this place.” He put a hand to my shoulder. His wedding ring flashed in the lantern light, the white pearl glowing like the fireflies. “I should never have asked you to come with me.”

“I imagine you have bad memories as well,” I protested. “After all, Stanford kidnapped you, locked you in a cage, and threatened to kill you.”

“True, though the umbrae have at least done such extensive remodeling of their new home, I couldn’t even tell you where the cages were.”

I had no such troubles recalling where Stanford had strangled me, demanding Father choose between us. Or where I’d stabbed him with Griffin’s old sword cane.

Or had my last glimpse of his face, distorted in pain and terror as he vanished from our world forever.

Stanford had tried to kill me first, of course. He meant to seize the fragments of the maelstrom within my flesh and that of my twin sister, and use its power to serve the masters. He would have hurt my town, hurt all the people the maelstrom had collected, and reduced Widdershins to nothing more than a tool to welcome the masters back into the world so they could enslave everyone. We hadn’t exactly been close.

“It isn’t that I feel guilty about killing Stanford,” I said.

“Nor should you.” Griffin sat beside me, slipping his arm from my shoulder to around my waist. I leaned into him gratefully. “For heaven’s sake, Ival, not even Niles blames you. Stanford murdered your older sister, he meant to kill Persephone, and intended to sacrifice the rest of us to Nyarlathotep. Not to mention the fact he murdered the heads of the old families, and worked with Bradley Osborne to take over your body, and—”

“I know; I know.” I held up a hand. “Stanford was a terrible person. We loathed one another since childhood. He left Persephone and me no choice but to put an end to him. Believe me, I’m well aware of all of this.”

“And yet you still wish things had been different,” Griffin suggested.

“Of course I do.” I stared down at my hands. My wedding ring bore a black pearl in contrast to Griffin’s white, its surface rich with hidden colors. “Why couldn’t he have just stayed in the blasted asylum? Why couldn’t he have left us alone?”

I’d thought the same thing many times throughout childhood. Bullying me had been Stanford’s favorite sport. If he had just let me be, how different things would have been for us all.

“It’s his fault, not yours.” Griffin’s hand stroked my arm soothingly. “You bear no blame in this.”

“I know. I’m not blaming myself. I’m not—not remorseful, or guilty, or…” I let out a long sigh. “I don’t know what I feel.”

“Family is difficult, sometimes.”

Heaven knew, Griffin understood that. He had a better relationship with the Mother of Shadows than with the human woman who had raised him.

He pressed a kiss into my cheek. “Sitting here won’t help things. Let me take you home.”

I nodded. We rose to our feet, and I put my coat and hat back on. Two soldier umbrae detached themselves from the upper boughs of the great tree, one gliding ahead of us down the path, the other behind. An escort, courtesy of the Queen of Shadows, as Griffin called her to distinguish her from the Mother of Shadows in Alaska. The umbrae served as guides as well; I was no woodsman, and the dense forest remained as confusing to me now as it had the first time I’d set foot in it.

Still, with the help of the umbrae, we navigated the Draakenwood quickly enough. The easiest path out was through the graveyard, and I tried not to look too closely at the mausoleums as we passed. Miss Lester had restored the damage Stanford did to the cemetery when he raised the dead  of the old families against us, but I’d never forget the sight of Guinevere’s corpse lurching toward me, trailing her winding sheet behind.

We’d parked the motor car at the gates. The police, under Chief Tilton, were familiar with our vehicle and knew to let us be. I supposed there were some benefits to my new status.

When we arrived home, it was to find a note wedged into the crack of our front door. Griffin and I exchanged a glance, and he pulled it loose. For a moment, I indulged in the optimistic thought that a potential client had come seeking his abilities as a detective. His business had taken a sharp uptick since February, especially among the old families. The decision to hire Jack to take on some of the simpler investigations had come from necessity rather than simple familial loyalty.

“It’s addressed to you,” he said.

Drat it. I took it from him and unfolded the paper. The stationery bore the imprint of the Widdershins Arms Hotel. Written in an elegant hand, it read:

Dr. Whyborne,
Please join me for a late dinner at the Widdershins Arms at your earliest convenience.
It’s time.
Sincerely,
Rupert Endicot







 

Author Bio:
Jordan L. Hawk grew up in the wilds of North Carolina, where she was raised on stories of haints and mountain magic by her bootlegging granny and single mother. After using a silver knife in the light of a full moon to summon her true love, she turned her talents to spinning tales. She weaves together couples who need to fall in love, then throws in some evil sorcerers and undead just to make sure they want it bad enough. In Jordan’s world, love might conquer all, but it just as easily could end up in the grave.


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Balefire #2
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