A Cottage on Dartmoor

This is a long overlooked British silent film, directed by Anthony Asquith in the early days of his career. I’m posting my review of it here because the cottage reminds me of Orlan’s at the end of the novel–one large room below, and a partial loft above. The story is not at all similar.

A man breaks out of Dartmoor prison and runs across the darkened moors to the title cottage, where a woman is putting her baby to bed in the loft. He breaks in just before she comes downstairs. When she sees him, she is naturally alarmed… but they call each other by their first names.

Most of the rest of the movie is a flashback to when the escaped prisoner was a barber and the woman a manicurist at a posh hotel barber’s shop; he is smitten with her in a shy-but-slightly-creepy way and believes she returns his affections due to a misunderstanding about some flowers he sent her. When she falls in love with one of their regular customers, he goes into full-blown jealous stalker mode and follows the couple on a date to the movies (They’re in a silent movie, but they’re going to see a talky).

The scene in the theater is one of the movie’s high points: we never see what the audience is watching, but we observe all their reactions. I guessed that the short before the main feature was a Harrold Lloyd comedy from the way a boy in the audience reacts to Lloydish-looking man in glasses sitting near him. At one point, the scene features enough quick cuts to keep the shortest of modern attention spans happy. And while nearly everyone else is the theater is enthralled by the movie–and the manicurist and her boyfriend are cuddling up during the suspenseful parts–Stalker-guy is seated in the row immediately behind them and never takes his eyes off them.

The next day, the boyfriend comes into the barber shop for his usual shave and manicure. While the couple flirts as she works on his nails, guess who is holding a straight razor near his throat? This scene is a forerunner the sort of suspense work we’ll later see from Alfred Hitchcock. And since the man holding the razor escaped from prison at the beginning of the movie, the tension of the moment increases only toward dread.

The movie is worth seeing just for these two sequences alone.

Another excerpt from “Maiden In Light”

Laurel follows her uncle one night to discover what goes on during the wizard’s secret vigils:
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After sunset on Midsummer eve, as twilight deepened, Laurel hid and waited impatiently in the shadowed thickets of the chapel garden.

From her first days at the castle, she’d watched Lord Redmantyl go out on the nights of Equinox and Solstice, on May Night, Maryemas, Candlemas, and All Hallows, and she wondered each time where he went. The wizard would never tell. If she looked out of her dressing-room window in the late hours, she sometimes saw strange, glowing lights out on Greenwaters Island—the unnatural color of wizard-fire. Something spectacular was happening and she was eager to discover what it was. Her uncle’s promises that she would understand when she was a wizard herself did not satisfy. She sensed a tantalizing, ominous truth behind this mystery. Her training told her that she was being prepared for great vigilance. Each exercise indicated a magical purpose which required enormous power uncontaminated by external influences. She was armed as a knight errant for battle, but against whom? What foe did she defend herself against? Wizard’s Keep was the key.

She couldn’t wait until she became a wizard; she must know now.
Continue reading “Another excerpt from “Maiden In Light””

New Amazon review

“Kathryn Ramage effortlessly transports you to the Northlands, an alternate Earthly reality of magick and wizards. Once again, she delivers an unusual, unexpected — but very satisfying — take on the journey of becoming a wizard. Her world is vivid and believable, and the story very much character-driven; I didn’t want to leave, and I fell absolutely in love with Laurel — this is a perfect fantasy read for long weekend.”
Escape for a Weekend to the Northlands…, by Molly Kiely, June 23, 2011

Maiden in Light in “our” New York

Not the New York in the book. But, yay! Anyway.

Wapshott goes retail in NYC!

“The address has now been confirmed: Word Up will be at 4157 Broadway, at 175 Street, across the street from the United Palace Theater, on the same block as Malecon, diagonal from El Floridita, across the street from La Rosa, down the road from Manolo . . . my mouth is watering thinking of the month ahead.”
Address has been confirmed – please and thanks for spreading the word (up)!, WordUp blog, June 8, 2011

New Maiden in Light review

Maiden in Light is beautifully written, vivid descriptive passages alternating with well-paced action, poetry intermingling with natural dialogue. Laurel herself is a likeable heroine, strong yet with understandable human failings, impulsive yet given to procrastination, and playful while capable of being ruthless; her story is reminiscent of the Romantic literary legend of Lorelei, a nymph inhabiting a rock above the river Rhine, who siren-like attracts the attention of would-be lovers, though her fate is somewhat different from Laurel’s. How the youngster gets to grips with the distractions that life throws at her while attempting to be single-minded about her calling and its associated responsibilities makes for engrossing reading, repaying the investment the reader pays in empathising with her character.”
GoodReads, by Ed Pendragon, May 24, 2011

Another excerpt from The Wizard’s Son

A traveling troupe of actors performs their own interpretation of a very old and highly symbolic play
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After dinner, Redmantyl brought Orlan downstairs. “You’re going to see a play tonight, Little One,” he said.

A stage had been set on the courtyard above the Plaza. Torches blazed on the walls and huge squares of black canvas hung across the southern side. There were few props—painted chairs, a baptismal font, an odd pile of lumber and canvas with a platform at the top, and a large, sheet-draped object at one corner—but Orlan looked around, wondering, as his father took him across. They sat on the Plaza just below the steps. All the servants, the off-duty guards, and the more prominent citizens of Lyges sat behind them, on benches and cushions. Orlan saw none of the thespians who had been rushing about all day.

“It’ll be starting soon?” He looked up at his father.

“At any moment,” Redmantyl answered softly. “Hush.” And as Orlan began to squirm with impatience, a young maid in plain dress—Anyse—walked out from the Bottom Hall and curtsied pertly.

“Our noble patron, Lord Redmantyl, his household, and welcome guests from Lyges,” her voice rang out clearly. “We the members of Redmantyl’s most kindly sustained thespian troupe thank you all for your favor and bid you attend the tale we perform tonight. `Tis a sad but worthy story of a man of pride and temper and of his grievous sins. With no more apology nor delay, we humbly present our tale of times long passed and people long dead, of Oedipus, the tragic King.” She bobbed again and exited.
Continue reading “Another excerpt from The Wizard’s Son”

Excerpt from “Maiden In Light”

Laurel attempts to bring out her timid cousin Igren’s latent magical abilities.
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“Igren, will you have another lesson?”

“If you wish.” The girl rose from the coucherie by her dressing-room windows, where she’d been watching the rain, and came to Laurel. “What shall we do?”

“We must test the nature of your ability. You may command best within the mental medium.”

“The- What-?”

“Some magic has no influence in the material world,” Laurel explained, simplifying the lengthy and tortuous passages she’d gathered from a dozen sources on the subject in her quest to discover an answer for Igren’s talents. “A mental magician exerts her will only in the mental energies of other people and living creatures. She senses them—she reads the thoughts which pass through another mind and she can disrupt them and command their actions.”

“Another of your books,” said Igren, with a smile. “What does it mean?”

“Such magicians cannot cast spells and so are not counted as true wizards, but they are no less magical.”
Continue reading “Excerpt from “Maiden In Light””

Ed Pendragon review of The Wizard’s Son

“On the face of it, this narrative strand of applied magics is almost incidental to the human tale of a troubled young man who wants to know the truth about his origins, wants to experience and experiment with life while resisting parental constraints, and acts at times as willfully as any spoilt brat. Knowing that this novel is part of a series and that there is more to be revealed makes it easier to complete this heavy-on-details story of what can be an unsympathetic protagonist.”
The Wizard’s Son, review by Ed Pendragon, LibraryThing, May 15, 2011