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Wylding Hall Hardcover – July 1, 2015
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''Real enchantment is always sought by our sad, starved world and rarely found. Elizabeth Hand's work possesses it in every word.'' --Francesca Lia Block, award-winning author, praise for the author --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.
About the Author
Elizabeth Hand flunked out of college a couple of years after seeing Patti Smith perform and became involved in the nascent punk scenes in DC and New York. From 1979 to 1986 she worked at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air & Space Museum. She was eventually readmitted to university to study cultural anthropology and received her BA. She is the author of many novels, including Winterlong, Waking the Moon, Glimmering, Mortal Love, Illyria, and Radiant Days, as well as three collections of stories, including the recent Saffron and Brimstone. Her fiction has received the Nebula, World Fantasy, Mythopeoic, Tiptree, and International Horror Guild Awards, and her novels have been chosen as notable books by both the New York Times and the Washington Post. She has also been awarded a Maine Arts Commission Fellowship. A regular contributor to the Washington Post Book World and the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, she lives with her family on the coast of Maine.
--This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.
Top customer reviews
Wylding Hall is also a place: a rambling old English country mansion that was erected in Norman times, and was added to during various historical eras. The band members were sent there by their manager to record the album. The building has secret rooms, secret passageways, doors that sometimes open, and sometimes remain locked. There is a room filled with horror; there are staircases that seem to lead to infinity. And all about the site there are mysterious wrens, flowers that bloom out of season, and a strange mound that somehow allows one to see for miles in all directions when climbed.
Ms. Hand starts out with a “dramatis personae,” in which we find out that one of the band members is dead, and from the testimony of the surviving members 40 years on, we learn what happened.
Despite the conversational format, Ms. Hand’s usual (and incredible) sense of place and time (in some sense she has never left the 1970s—a decade that in one way or another appears in virtually all her work) comes through marvelously, and the oral history scheme adds an extra dimension. The characters, from their fictional universe, describe the events to the transcriber who is learning the intricate details of a story the basics of which everyone in the fictional universe knows. But we do not. And that’s where the suspense comes in: the characters keep making reference to events known to them, and while we in the “real world” have no idea what they might be, and are eager to find out, those in fictional universe do, and are eager simply for more details.
All in all, this is a lovely return by Ms. Hand to the magical gothic style of “Waking the Moon.”
Notes and asides: Seventies era sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Wrens. Ms. hand supplies a mini-autobiography with illustrations at the end of the Kindle edition.
The author does a wonderful job of making everything seem real; I even went looking for a website that was referenced in one section. Very nicely done!
Hand knows precisely how to channel the feel of the “interview” books for acid-folk musicians, from details of band and musical politics to conflicting reminisces of the same situation. However, this isn’t just a tale about imaginary musicians and their imaginary album. This is Elizabeth Hand we’re reading. She’s always brought a wonderfully subtle undercurrent of menace to her stories. The eponymous Wylding Hall is a perfect example.
In the early 1970s the young members of British acid-folk group Windhollow Faire are dispatched to work on new songs at a centuries-old country house for the summer. Most are still teenagers and their manager would like them to get enough material together for a second album, sans distractions such as pretty girls, pretty boys, and drugs.
The recollections of the living band members, friends, and lovers reveal quickly that the charismatic frontman Julian Blake, died that summer. A dead musician is no surprise - overdoses and suicides shuffle off more than a few. It quickly becomes clear that something else happened to Julian. The needed album was finished and the album cover features “the girl” who is a figure of controversy. Who is she? Why does nobody seem to know anything about her, not even her name?
The story that is revealed is a fascinating mystery that will hook anyone, and when the photography session that produced the legendary album cover is finally described it will creep you out. I’d wish the photographs actually existed so I could have a particular three in a triptych in my house, but that would probably give me some very bad dreams. Or very good ones. This is one to read again … and again.