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Study of a Girl Readying by Valentine Carmen Prinsep

While Halloween is just around the corner, I want to focus on something more important. Books.-HA! So, says the Librarian. Below is a list of sixteen titles; eight fiction and eight non-fiction that have just been published. All the titles are tied in with the 19th century in one way or another. They are also highly reviewed. Books were gleaned from Library Journal, Kirkus Review, Publisher’s Weekly, Baker and Taylor, and Amazon. Thus, all summaries and reviews are taken directly from these sources. I make a point for the spread to run the gamut of various subgenres. So expect a little romance, some Westerns, Steampunk and the like. Of course, as it is October, I made sure there was nice representation of horror, occult, and crime. As all these titles are being released this month, I have yet to read any of them. At this time, I am unable to recommend one book over another. Lastly, I noted when I purchased a title for the library I work at. My patron demographic is such that many 19th century “flavored” books are not in high demand. “My people” are far more into mysteries, action, suspense, and contemporary romance. I so rarely buy 1800s-esque books, that I like to note which titles actually make it onto the Library shelves. –The books are listed in alphabetically by title, in case you were wondering. . .


Image result for Shupe, JoannaBaron by Joanna Shupe

Railroad tycoon William Sloan knows his fledgling gubernatorial campaign needs his sterling reputation and every single one of his connections to take on the corrupt Tammany Hall political machine. His political aspirations cannot afford the romantic distraction of Ava Jones, who supports her three siblings with the money she earns as the medium Madame Zolikoff. Unlike his sister, Lizzie (the heroine of Magnate), who chafed under society’s strictures, Will doesn’t mind the traditions of New York’s moneyed elite, but Ava’s scorn for the wealthy throws him off balance. He’s intrigued that a young woman with no connections, money, or venerable family name still refuses to be awed by his wealth or impressed by his grand plans. The sexual heat between them burns slowly, but when Will finally gives in, he loses control. Will is starch and pomposity personified, but every minute with Ava, in and out of bed, musses him up and makes him more human. They have nothing in common, but their personalities are highly complementary; Ava’s pragmatism and devotion to her siblings draw out Will’s sense of fair play, honesty, and justice, and it’s increasingly difficult for him to remember why they have to stay in their own social spheres.

Image result for death among the rubiesDeath Among Rubies by R.J. Koreto

A suffragette sleuth solves a baffling murder, to the chagrin of Scotland Yard.While Lady Frances Ffolkes’ avid suitor, Henry Wheaton, the esteemed barrister and amateur portraitist, paints her portrait, British diplomat Sir Calleford Kestrel entertains a diverse assembly of guests at his estate, Kestrel’s Eyrie. Frances and her equally brusque maid, Mallow, will soon join the assembly as guests of Sir Calleford’s daughter, Gwen, and her “great friend” Thomasina. At the end of Sir Calleford’s first appearance, Koreto announces portentously that “no one would ever see Sir Calleford alive again.” Mallow discovers Sir Calleford, slumped in his chair in the study, with an elegant curved dagger in his back. Because of Sir Calleford’s status, Scotland Yard sends two members of the Special Branch. Inspector Eastley is surprised and chagrined to find Frances among the company, but she’s nonplussed at meeting him again. Adding insult to injury, Eastley is forced to use Frances as an interpreter for his interrogation of a suspicious guest, Mme. Aubert. Despite Eastley’s disapproval, Frances continues to probe on her own. An anonymous letter to Thomasina, maligning her relationship with Gwen, accusing her of murder and threatening her, helps provide a focus for Frances. Mallow, meanwhile, advised to keep an ear out for gossip, takes the advice above and beyond, cozying up to friendly Constable Dill.

Image result for Dracula Vs. HitlerDracula Vs. Hitler by Patrick Sheane Duncan

Prof. Abraham van Helsing, now an octogenarian, and his adult daughter, Lucy, are guerillas fighting the Nazi invasion in backwoods Romania during World War II. Their resistance group is largely successful, until a sinister SS agent takes control of operations and begins summarily executing resistance fighters. Van Helsing has only one option left: resurrect Dracula from his lair and recruit the vampire to their cause—because, above all else, Count Dracula loves his homeland. Together with a young John Harker (grandson of Bram Stoker’s original Harker), a brain-addled Scottish explosives expert code-named Renfield, and a band of Romany fugitives, the van Helsings and Dracula shoot, blow up, and shred their way through Nazi strongholds—until the Führer himself gets wind of what is transpiring in Romania.

Image result for Hell Bay book coverHell Bay by Will Thomas

A Victorian mystery that rewrites And Then There Were None with a very different ending.Lord Hargrave hires detective Cyrus Barker and his assistant, Thomas Llewelyn, to provide security for his secret meeting with French Ambassador Michel Gascoigne to discuss a new treaty. The meeting will be disguised as a house party at Hargrave’s home on Godolphin Island in the Isles of Scilly. Barker’s cover will be provided by his lady friend, Philippa Ashleigh, a close friend of Lady Barker. The island has no telephone, only a red flag to run up a pole when help is required. Aside from the two detectives, the Hargraves, their daughter and two sons, and the ambassador, the party includes his lordship’s doctor and his two daughters; Delacroix, the ambassador’s bodyguard; the Honorable Algernon Kerry, an unpleasant old family friend recently returned from South America; Lady Alicia Travers; Colonel and Mrs. Fraser; and some 15 servants. On the first night, Hargrave is shot dead by an expert marksman, the ferry that brought the ambassador is sent away by a faked note, and Delacroix is found stabbed. Although the assassin has many opportunities to kill at will, he seems to be highly selective. A search of the island reveals only that the flag to call for help has been destroyed and the rifle used to kill Hargrave was stolen from his gun cabinet, suggesting an inside connection. Blamed for not protecting Hargrave, Barker and Llewelyn are frozen out but continue to hunt for clues to the killer. The preferred targets, members of the Hargrave family, lead Barker to suspect that the motive may be personal rather than an international conspiracy to stop the treaty.

Image result for House of BlazesHouse of Blazes by Dietrich Kalteis

Kalteis sets his fourth crime novel (after Triggerfish) in 1906 in San Francisco’s Barbary Coast district, “a back alley of vice and corruption,” viewed by many as “a moral cancer on this Paris of the Pacific.” The story pits Levi Hayes, who has returned from doing five years in San Quentin Prison for stealing $30,000 in gold from the San Francisco mint, against the powerful Healey brothers, who he believes saw to it that he was found guilty. Levi wants to return to the House of Blazes, his barroom seized by the Healeys, to recover the gold coins hidden in the cellar walls and to seek revenge on the brothers.

Image result for Hansen, RonThe Kid by Ron Hansen

As an American icon, Billy the Kid looms large in the collective imagination—a horse-stealing, gunslinging outlaw whose life has spawned copious amounts of fiction. Hansen (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) treats us to a detailed yet compellingly readable fictional biography of William Henry McCarty. Charming and deadly, Billy tried to live life on the straight and narrow but was drawn into horse thievery after his beloved mother died. Alternating between stints as a ranch hand and gang member, Billy spent time in jail, honed his sharpshooting skills, and progressed to more serious crimes. At the time of his death, Billy was the New Mexico Territory’s most wanted, and notorious, outlaw.

Image result for news of the world bookNews of the World by Paulette Jiles

In post-Civil War Texas, a 10-year-old girl makes an odyssey back to her aunt and uncle’s home after living with the Kiowa warriors who had killed her parents four years earlier. Johanna Leonberger remembers almost nothing of her first 6 years, when she lived with her parents. Instead, her memory extends only as far as her Kiowa family—she speaks no English and by white standards is uncivilized. Tired of being harassed by the cavalry, the Kiowa sell her back to an Indian agent for “fifteen Hudson’s Bay four-stripe blankets and a set of silver dinnerware.” Enter Capt. Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a 70-year-old veteran of two wars and, in 1870, when the novel takes place, a professional reader—he travels through Texas giving public readings from newspapers to an audience hungry for events of the world. At first reluctant to take her the 400 miles to the town near San Antonio where her aunt and uncle live, he soon realizes his itinerant life makes him the most plausible pers on for the job—and he also knows it’s the right thing to do. He buys a wagon, and they start their journey, much to the reluctance and outrage of the undomesticated Johanna; but a relationship soon begins to develop between the two.

Image result for Waves of MercyWaves of Mercy by Lynn Austin

Eight-time Christy Award–winner Austin tells the tale of two women from different eras tied together by circumstance in this work of historical Christian fiction set in 1897 Holland, Mich. Chicago socialite Anna Nicholson is on vacation with her mother, recovering from an engagement that ended when she disobeyed her fiancé’s wishes to stay away from a particular church. Haunted by a nightmare of a shipwreck and confused by the fact that she understands a few words of Dutch, Anna is also on a mission to discover the truth about her birth mother. Geesje de Longe is one of the original settlers of Holland. She and her family made the dangerous voyage from the Netherlands to America in search of religious freedom when she was seventeen. Fifty years later, she has been asked to record the story of her life, but she is hesitant to share “all the times despaired of God’s love.” –**Purchased for Library**


Image result for The Earth Is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American WestThe Earth is Weeping: The epic stories of the Indian Wars for the American West by Peter Cozzens

Leading historian Cozzens (Shenandoah 1862) builds on his earlier regional works to provide a comprehensive assessment of the wars for control of the American West. In a declared effort to provide historical perspective and balance, this work examines intertribal conflicts along with battles between Native Americans and European settlers, with Cozzens noting that earlier intertribal disputes in the east forced many tribal nations westward onto the Great Plains by the 1860s. Major battles from Minnesota to Northern California to the Southwest are included, including Major Eugene Baker’s unprovoked and tragic attack on chief Heavy Runner’s Piegan Blackfeet village on the Marias River in January 1870. The Marias Massacre resulted in the U.S. Army losing its controlling influence on Indian affairs under President Ulysses S. Grant’s Peace Policy. Recounted are stories of leaders on both sides of the conflicts. This updated account of these 19th-century battles incorporates Native oral history as well as primary documents from army archives. Presenting the battles in chronological order with a single narrative voice, the book offers both historical context and insight.

Image result for freud by elisabeth roudinescoFrued: In his time and ours by Elisabeth Roudinesco and Catherine Porter

Here, French historian Roudinesco (head of research in history, Univ. of Paris VII—Denis Diderot) brings her fresh perspective, in these pages well translated by Porter. Among the 14 chapters are “Disciples and Dissidents,” “Families, Dogs, Objects,” and “Facing Hitler.” With a wealth of research—including an impressive bibliography and detailed family tree—Roudinesco elucidates Freud’s development, creativity, and influence. She clarifies the rational and irrational, the pleasure and reality principles, and drives toward Eros and Thanatos. Freud, who viewed religion as an obstacle to scientific knowledge, used art, myth, and history as evidence for his claims. Like her subject, Roudinesco is a scholar of psychology, biology, and history. She credits Freud’s predecessors Franz Anton Mesmer and Jean-Martin Charcot, pointing out that suggestion in the waking state is an element of psychotherapy. In her view, male psychoanalysts promoted as science a culturally biased interpretation of women.

Image result for Glorious Victorian Homes: 150 Years of Architectural History in British Columbia's CapitalGlorious Victorian Homes: 150 years of architectural history in British Columbia’s capital by Nick Russell 

In the process of modernization, many North American cities have razed their residential neighborhoods to make way for apartment buildings, condominiums, and cookie-cutter cul de sacs. Such is not the case in Victoria, BC, an idyllic city with more than 150 years of architectural history lining its picturesque streets. Take a walk through the city’s charming neighborhoods and discover a continuum of styles, from pioneer log, through Gothic, Edwardian, Arts and Crafts, and Moderne styles, right up to glass and steel. Learn from the sturdy brick, dormer windows, and sweeping verandas the evolution of Victoria’s architecture, culture and economy. With more than 100 photographs of Victoria’s most glorious homes, this collection provides basic information for each phase of the city’s architectural timeline, and delves into the history of the homes, the architects who built them, and the details that make them uniquely Victorian. And if the photographs aren’t enough, author Nick Russell provides street addresses for every residence, so readers can see these gorgeous relics of decades past from their own point of view.

Image result for Murder by Candlelight: The Gruesome Crimes Behind Our Romance With the MacabreMurder by Candlelight: The gruesome crimes behind our romance with the macabre by Michael Knox Beran

Bringing to life the ghastly ambiance of a vanished epoch, Murder by Candlelight presents a terrifying glimpse of the horror beneath the seeming civility of the Romantic era. In the early nineteenth century, a series of murders took place in and around London which shocked the whole of England. The appalling nature of the crimes―a brutal slaying in the gambling netherworld, the slaughter of two entire households, and the first of the modern lust-murders―was magnified not only by the lurid atmosphere of an age in which candlelight gave way to gaslight, but also by the efforts of some of the keenest minds of the period to uncover the gruesomest details of the killings. These slayings all took place against the backdrop of a London in which the splendor of the fashionable world was haunted by the squalor of the slums. Sir Walter Scott, Lord Byron, Thomas De Quincey, Thomas Carlyle, and Percy Bysshe Shelley and others were fascinated by the blood and deviltry of these crimes. In their contemplations of the most notorious murders of their time, they discerned in the act of killing itself a depth of hideousness that we have lost sight of, now living in an age in which murder has been reduced to a problem of social science and skillful detective work. Interweaving these cultural vignettes alongside criminal history, acclaimed author Michael Beran paints a vivid picture of a time when homicide was thought of as the intrusion of the diabolic into ordinary life.

Image result for The Mystery of Spring-heeled Jack: From Victorian Legend to Steampunk HeroThe Mystery of Spring-Heeled Jack: From Victorian legend to Steampunk hero by John Matthews

Spring-Heeled Jack–a tall, thin, bounding figure with bat-like wings, clawed hands, wheels of fire for eyes, and breath of blue flames–first leapt to public attention in Victorian London in 1838, springing over hedges and walls, from dark lanes and dank graveyards, to frighten and sometimes physically attack women. News of this strange and terrifying character quickly spread, but despite numerous sightings through 1904 he was never captured or identified. Exploring the vast urban legend surrounding this enigmatic figure, John Matthews explains how the Victorian fascination with strange phenomena and sinister figures paired with hysterical reports enabled Spring-Heeled Jack to be conjured into existence. Sharing original 19th-century newspaper accounts of Spring-Heeled Jack sightings and encounters, he also examines recent 20th and 21st-century reports, including a 1953 UFO-related sighting from Houston, Texas, and disturbing accounts of the Slender Man, who displays notable similarities with Jack. He traces Spring-Heeled Jack’s origins to earlier mythical beings from folklore, such as fairy creatures and land spirits, and explores the theory that Jack is an alien marooned on Earth whose leaping prowess is attributed to his home planet having far stronger gravity than ours.

Image result for occult parisOccult Paris: The lost magic of the Belle Epoque by Tobias Churton

During Paris’s Belle Époque (1871-1914), many cultural movements and artistic styles flourished–Symbolism, Impressionism, Art Nouveau, the Decadents–all of which profoundly shaped modern culture. Inseparable from this cultural advancement was the explosion of occult activity taking place in the City of Light at the same time. Exploring the magical, artistic, and intellectual world of the Belle Époque, Tobias Churton shows how a wide variety of Theosophists, Rosicrucians, Martinists, Freemasons, Gnostics, and neo-Cathars called fin-de-siècle Paris home. He examines the precise interplay of occultists Joséphin Peladan, Papus, Stanislas de Guaïta, and founder of the modern Gnostic Church Jules Doinel, along with lesser known figures such as Saint-Yves d’Alveydre, Paul Sédir, Charles Barlet, Edmond Bailly, Albert Jounet, Abbé Lacuria, and Lady Caithness. He reveals how the work of many masters of modern culture such as composers Claude Debussy and Erik Satie, writers Arthur Rimbaud and Charles Baudelaire, and painters Georges Seurat and Alphonse Osbert bear signs of immersion in the esoteric circles that were thriving in Paris at the time. The author demonstrates how the creative hermetic ferment that animated the City of Light in the decades leading up to World War I remains an enduring presence and powerful influence today. Where, he asks, would Aleister Crowley and all the magicians of today be without the Parisian source of so much creativity in this field?

Image result for Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man Who Wrote DraculaSomething in the Blood: The untold story of Bram Stoker, the man who wrote Dracula by David J. Skal

Known today almost exclusively as the author of Dracula, Bram Stoker (1847–1912) is thoroughly scrutinized in this sumptuous biography. Drawing on a wealth of research, Skal (Hollywood Gothic: The Tangled Web of Dracula from Novel to Stage to Screen) finds credible influences for Stoker’s classic novel in several key figures in his life: his strong-willed mother, who entertained her sickly young son with terrifying accounts of a cholera epidemic she lived through in the 1830s; Oscar Wilde, whose mother’s salons he frequented and whose onetime love interest, Florence Balcombe, he eventually married; and Henry Irving, the renowned actor whom he served as business manager. As depicted by Skal, Stoker was a tireless workaholic who readily absorbed creative ideas from his experiences. Skal also breaks new critical ground, noting Dracula’s similarities to Drink, a novel by Hall Caine, to whom Stoker dedicated his novel. Skal writes with intimate familiarity about his subject and his habits, and he has organized a remarkable amount of information into an engrossing narrative.

Image result for Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady's Guide to Sex, Marriage, and MannersUnmentionable: The Victorian lady’s guide to sex, marriage, and manners by Therese Oniell

Welcome to a highly irreverent tour of the darker sides of the Victorian age. Popular history writer and blogger Oneill points out that although films and fiction set in this period have great appeal today, they omit significant parts of the less-than-comfortable aspects of the time, including bad hygiene, poor medical knowledge resulting in hack treatments, and restrictions on social interactions. The author’s wicked sense of humor saves the subject from devolving into a dry tome, instead providing laugh-out-loud moments on the most unthinkable and unmentionable subjects. The brilliance of this study is Oneill’s ability to transport readers back in time and have them experience the day-to-day life of women battling the issues of the era. In doing so, this work both educates and amuses in its historical approach of the unseen and unseemly sides of the time.