Title: She Walks In Darkness
Author: Evengeline Walton
Publisher: Tachyon Publications
Release Date: September, 2013
Acquired: ARC from NetGalley
Pages: 192 Pages
Read Dates: October 31-November 3, 2013
A gorgeous Tuscan villa harboring a terrible secret houses this original harrowing adventure of ancient mystery and modern intrigue.
Archaeologist Richard Keyes and his resourceful young bride, Barbara, are expecting a blissful honeymoon in a welcoming new country. But from the moment they arrive in their secluded new home, circumstances conspire against them. A car crash leaves Richard lying unconscious in a bed surrounded by frescoes of a benevolent goddess, while a far more sinister deity in the courtyard seems to gain power in the night.
Meanwhile, in Barbara’s hour of need, a beautiful, young Tuscan appears, and she is drawn to his seductive charms. A conflict has been reawakened after generations of sacrifice, betrayal, and madness, and the key to the mystery lies in the catacombs under the villa.
This first publication of newly discovered novel from classic fantasist Evangeline Walton (The Mabinogoion series) is sure to please fans of all genres.
I really wanted to like this book, but I just couldn’t. When I read the description, I imagined a cross between Jane Eyre and Rebecca. What I got was an extremely irritating female lead. Barbara, Barby, Barbs is both paranoid and flighty. She seems to be afraid of her own shadow and on the verge of hysterics through most of the book. I literally wanted to reach into the book and slap her.
Barbara and her husband, Richard, are newlyweds and on their honeymoon. This supposed “honeymoon” is a trip to a sprawling Tuscan villa which is actually part of Richard’s job as an archeologist. The plan is to spend a month or so at this secluded villa while Richard excavates the tunnels beneath the villa. Romantic, huh?
Within minutes of their arrival, Richard, has an accident that leaves him concussed and unconscious. Barbara’s paranoia immediately kicks in and she locks herself and Richard in their bedroom. Who does that? Come to find out there is someone in the house and it proves all of her worst paranoid fantasies true. So, apparently she is clairvoyant as well. Irritating!
Then Floriano, a local Italian, shows up randomly at the villa. Barbara imagines him to be her savior. Then her internal monologue turns to how pretty he is. Soon Floriano comes on to her and this newly married women actually entertains the idea of an affair while her husband is lying in bed unconscious! Unbelievable!
I won’t give anymore away because there are some twists and turns that keep the plot from being too predictable. Unfortunately, by the time the plot picked up, I was so frustrated with the book, my opinion was irrevocably negative.
I hated the characters. Barbara was paranoid and flighty, not to mention her complete lack of a backbone. Richard was a typical 1950’s husband who easily dismissed his wife and her ideas. Most of the male characters were misogynistic and the females were good little wives. I realize this was written in the 60’s, but the plot really provided the platform for Walton to make Barbara more than a stereotype. For some reason Walton just didn’t take Barbara in that direction.
I’m giving this book 2.5 out of 5 stars only because the historical information was pretty good. There was a good bit about Etruscan history, which I don’t think I’ve ever read anything about. Also, the plot did pick up a little toward the end.
I have never read anything else by Evangeline Walton. She apparently has a really good reputation in the Fantasy genre. Can anyone tell me if she had any strong lead female characters in her work? Were these stereotypical male/female characters her norm?
I’d like to give a shout out to Netgalley and Tachyon Publications for giving me the opportunity to read and review this ARC.