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The Quickening: A Ghost Story Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
But Ms. Biella is in no rush. The slow dance that begins the book--character, history, setting--is slyly setting us all up for the change in tempo. By degrees, readers become deliciously aware of the growing repetition of the words 'quick' or 'quicken', plus associated words like 'suddenly', 'stirring', and 'gathering.' Furthermore, the sly author starts adding emotional quickenings--resulting from new images of decay and corruption. By the time we finally see the ghost, we're all quickstepping in synch with the author and her tormented family.
Highly recommended. I do love an author who knows how to dance.
Mari Biella's debut novel, The Quickening, starts quietly. There is something wrong with this family, and something wrong with their home, but the actual source of the 'wrongness' is not revealed for the first third of the book. This makes the palpable dread even more intoxicating: you are nervous, soul-darkened - and you cannot stop reading. This is a haunted house book where you don't often see the ghosts directly, but rather as reflections in the mood of the living characters. When the source of their torment is revealed, your heart will break with the unfairness of the universe. If you are like me, you will also feel a sickening anger at the wife's weakness, vile repulsion to the sucking Spiritualism of the era, and a complete eclipse of the light of reason. In the depths of night, in a house in the middle of nowhere, you stay with the main character, listening and yearning and fearing that a creak of the floorboards will smash your view of the universe. You stay with him, and wonder as he does, Which is worse? That there is something there, or that there might really be nothing?
Mari Biella's voice is breathtaking, pure. The Quickening is told from first person, and written in the style common to learned men at the "twilight years of the nineteenth century." Never once does the style lapse, nor are there any anachronistic appearances of things from the wrong period. To me, Biella's voice and ability to create a dark atmosphere are akin to the skills of Edgar Allen Poe.Read more ›
Let me just say, first of all, that I looooove horror. However, I read very little horror because I’ve found there are so few books out there that are done really well. I’ve ripped through everything by Stephen King, Anne Rice, Clive Barker, Lovecraft, and other classic authors, so I usually either know exactly how a plot is going to play out, or the story just isn’t scary to me.
This book completely surprised me. AND it scared the hell out of me. Hence me being extremely impressed.
The story takes place in the late 19th century (I think 1890 is the year specified) and opens with a rational-minded man, his tortured wife, and their silent daughter returning to their home in the rural English countryside after months spent in Europe. We soon find out that they spent so much time abroad in an attempt to run away from the horrible things that have awaited them at this isolated house they call home. I won’t go into any more detail due to the risk of spoilers, but I will say that I was astonished at how well the author was able to capture the voice of a Victorian gentleman with a scientific turn of mind. The writing style reminded me of a mix of Bram Stoker, Charlotte Bronte, and Henry James in Turn of the Screw. Really, really wonderful prose that carried me along with a mix of spooky urgency and turn-of-the-century delicacy.
What I most loved about this story was the emotional depth of the main characters and the way the dynamic tension between them was teased out, explored, and finally ripped wide open. This was so much more than a ghost story. It did remind me of Stephen King in that I saw how the horror that came knocking at the door (or was to be found already seething inside the house, in this case) was directly linked to the mental turmoil and emotional agony of the characters. This is a very well-written book and I believe I’ll be turning it over in my mind for weeks to come.
But it’s the fact that others have compared Mari Biella’s The Quickening with Ms Hill’s works that provokes my remarks because to me there seems to be a significant difference between the approach of the two writers and the impact of their stories. Ms Biella makes no assumptions about the reader’s susceptibilities. All aspects of her story, the rational and the immanent, are given equal weight. Her characters and their relationships are beautifully, carefully drawn and delineated. She knows them so well and follows their shifts of mood and their changing perceptions with the lightest and yet surest of touches. Her writing is measured, thoughtful. She chooses the words she puts into her first person narrator’s mouth with care and skilfully reproduces the tone and rhythms of the late Victorian era in which the events take place. Most of all, her book’s uniqueness stems from the fact that she manages to close the gap between the rational and the supernatural which sceptics like myself find so difficult to negotiate.
The vast, impossible distance between the quick and the dead is, if not overcome, at least brought into question.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not sure about the pacing, but other than that, I thought the writing style was phenomenal.
It was something that combined paranormal and psychological ideas and blurred... Read more
Love a good ghost story. The Quickening kept me reading, for pleasure, not just to find out what happened. The writing is excellent and the themes of heart vs. head, romantic vs. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Janet V.
I enjoyed this read. I won as a giveaway from LibraryThing.com
I felt this book became easy to the author an effortless writing as if her words just flowed across the pages. Read more
Thoroughly enjoyed this Gothic novel. The author uses language well in her writing; not all authors do this. Read morePublished 4 months ago by peony
I ended up liking the book, but it took a bit of effort to get into it. It was very much written in the style of 19th century authors with heaps of description and mounds of... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
Darkly atmospheric and well developed with a gathering sense of gloom. An unhappy tale of quiet desperation. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Jan
I received a free copy of this book for an honest and impartial review: The Quickening is a haunting psychological thriller set in England. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Redman
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