Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

“The Third Circle” by Amanda Quick

Leona Hewitt has secretly made her way into Lord Delbridge’s private museum to retrieve a relic stolen from her family. But someone else is in the dimly lit gallery on the same errand: a tall, black cloaked man whose very voice is enough to cause her to fall into a trance.

Thaddeus Ware, a mesmerist with psychic gifts, is accustomed to fearful reactions from others—women, in particular. After all, a man who can control the minds of others could rob a lady of her virtue—completely unbeknownst to her. But Leona shows no trace of hysteria in his presence. A gifted crystal worker, she exerts a rather hypnotic power over the hypnotist himself. And she is determined to keep the coveted crystal they manage to recover by giving him the slip at a run-down London inn.

Thaddeus, on assignment for the Arcane Society, knows the menace Leona is courting by absconding with the crystal. A source of remarkable energy, it holds the potential for great destruction. Lord Delbridge has already killed to acquire the crystal, his key to membership in the elite, shadowy group known as the Third Circle. And, with the help of a ruthless hunter of preternatural skill — dubbed the Midnight Monster by the press — Delbridge intends to find Leona. With the stolen crystal in their possession, the danger is only beginning.

Two very driven individuals, both with agendas that set them against each other, both with passions that draw them together.

Thaddeus can command virtually anyone by his power of psychic mesmerism, which isolates him from virtually any human contact, only to discover Leona, whose own psychic gifts allowed her to break his command. She interfered with his mission to recover the lost aurora stone, eventually losing to her wiles, but she also saved his life and his sanity through her gift of crystal manipulation.

Leona has gone to great lengths to recover her family’s lost heirloom, a fabled crystal owned by her famous ancestress, the fabled Sybil the Virgin Sorceress, only to encounter Thaddeus on the same quest. His insistence taking possession of the aurora stone was only the latest potential setback she encountered, but without his aid, she would have died a torturous death many times over.

Against them both are Lord Delbridge, a member of the secretive Arcane Society of psychic researchers and practitioners, of whom Thadeus is also a member, a psychic hunter of sorts, employed in investigations involving other members of the Society. Delbridge also employs a sinister scientist and alchemist and a psychic and psychotic murderer. Behind them is the occult group of the Third Circle, who plan to use both the aurora stone and Leona in aiding them unlock the secrets of her ancestress Sybil, and are more than willing to kidnap and murder to gain their objectives.

As this is a romance novel, and a formulaic one, at that, Thaddeus and Leona pair up to counter all threats and discover true love in the process.


 Notes

  • Synchronicity Time: Just a few days after I finished the previous Amanda Quick novels, I was at the local library, in their connected coffee shop. The library disposes of unwanted or overstock books through sales through the coffee shop, and I walked past the display and just happened to notice this novel by Amanda Quick. Knowing full well my propensity for synchronicity, I examined the contents and discovered another mesmerist as a primary character. Of course, I had to purchase it to add to the Collection.
  • Amanda Quick is the pseudonym of Jayne Ann Krentz, a popular New York Times bestselling author of period, paranormal and period paranormal romances. More information on the book can be found at her website, here.

“Slightly Shady”, “Don’t Look Back” and “Late for the Wedding” by Amanda Quick

As if a head for business and a nose for trouble aren’t enough to distinguish fiercely independent Lavinia Lake from the other women of London’s fashionable Claremont Lane, there is one more feature to set her apart. Lavinia is also well versed in the practice of mesmerism, an extraordinary gift that far surpasses mere charm and physical appeal. Nobody knows this better than the usually coolheaded Tobias March, who seems to have fallen hopelessly under her spell. Fortunately for all, however, Lavinia uses her powers for good. And ever since a tragedy involving one of her subjects, she has even retired them in favor of her work with Lake and March, a joint venture providing “discreet private inquiries for individuals of quality.”

Mrs. Lake and Mr. March have a rocky first encounter: he is systematically rampaging through the tiny shop Mrs. Lake and her niece operate, all in an attempt to force them to leave and thus remove them from impending danger. Nevertheless, they find reasons to continue their relationship, despite the friction of their equally strong personalities. As these are romance novels, their relationship also continues to be fraught with unresolved passion.

Part of that passion and that friction is due to the fact that Mrs. Lake is a talented mesmerist, although Mr. March is quite hesitant to allow himself to be placed under her magnetic influence for medicinal purposes, even though he is quickly falling under her captivating spell as much as she is falling under his. However, in her new occupation performing private inquiries, Mrs. Lake finds his company and her mesmeric powers advantageous, and not always in the expected manner.

“Slightly Shady”

Mrs. Lake does not want to return to her mesmerism practice upon returning to London after her encounter with Mr. March, after a tragedy involving a former patient and the repercussions from the patient’s husband. Instead, she is drawn into Mr. March’s inquiry into the existence and location of a diary that relates the doings of one of the principal leaders of an international criminal organization, a part of the impending danger that threatened Mrs. Lake earlier. That leads to a complicated investigation also involving a death threat against a prominent lady of society, missing prostitutes and murder. Only upon the final confrontation with the murderer does she resort to her talent for mesmerism, using her pendant as a focus to entrance the murderer to induce them to gloat about their past crimes, as well as distract them from killing Mrs. Lake.

“Don’t Look Back”

Mrs. Lake encounters Doctor Howard Hudson, an old friend of her parents, both of whom were experienced mesmerists, himself a professional mesmerist as well. He is in London to further his research into mesmerism, specifically, in search of the fabled Blue Medusa, an amulet legendarily reputed to give the wearer powerful mesmeric abilities. With him is his new wife Celeste, who has her own interests and her own plans involving the Blue Medusa. However, when Celeste is found murdered and the Blue Medusa is discovered missing, Mrs. Lake and Mr. March are charged with investigating both crimes, only to find a web of murder and mesmerism behind the theft and the crimes that follow. Complicating matters is the presence of Lord Pelling, the man whose wife committed suicide under Mrs. Lake’s care, in London unexpectedly.

Mesmerism is a central element of the novel here. Without giving too much away, it appears throughout the novel in a multitude of circumstances and by a number of individuals including Mrs Hudson, including, as it does in all of these novels, with Mrs. Lake using her mesmeric talents in confronting the murder.

Notes

Mrs. Lake investigates a mesmerist undercover by complaining of “feminine discomforts”. The device the mesmerist tries to employ in relief while she is ostensibly mesmerized is essentially a mechanical dildo: whether this device as described was authentic is not known but it certainly would be typical of the period.

“Late for the Wedding”

Mrs. Lake and Mr. March are by now well known by certain very prominent individuals and are significantly an item such that they are invited to a weekend outing at a noble’s estate. However, the appearance of the wife of an old friend turned enemy seeking the aid of Mr. March and an “accident” at the outing involve them both in a murder mystery involving the infamous Memento-Mori Man, a famous killer for hire thought retired long ago, or, possibly, someone emulating his work. As in the first novel of the series, the story underplays Mrs. Lake’s mesmeric talents until the very end where she employs them to distract the murder until aid arrives.


Notes

  • Amanda Quick is the pseudonym of Jayne Ann Krentz, a popular New York Times bestselling author of period, paranormal and period paranormal romances.

“The Witch Hypnotizer” by Zena A. Maher (1892)

Such a promising title.

Such a profound disappointment.

To put this bluntly, this is a Biblical tract, not a story. Each chapter is wholly or in part a morality play in miniature, complete with such nameless stock characters such as the man who drinks too much, the gambler, the unfaithful husband, the false witness, the beset-upon Chinaman (yes, this work is reflective of the period and therefore there are definite strains of racism and misogyny within) and the “fallen woman”. There is little dialog and very few attempts at character description or characterization. Each story involves the Witch Hypnotizer as she wanders through the town, encountering individuals with problems or moral flaws. Then comes several Bible verses, single verses carefully selected and disjointly assembled, then comes the demonstration of the reformation of the particular individual and the resolution of the existing problem or situation. End of lesson.

The unnamed protagonist, the Witch Hypnotizer, is equally obscure and occluded: no physical description of her is ever given, but there is a description of her power:

It was nothing tangible, but an indescribable something which gave her influence over other minds, to bend them to her will.

She is also completely certain of her mission of the spiritual and social reformation of others according to the mores of the day, including the proper place of women (in the home and without the vote). By her certainty, does not feel the need to seek informed consent. Furthermore, there is never any kind of demonstration that the Witch Hypnotizer actually performs any kind of act to induce the reformation. (That, apparently, is left up to the imagination of the reader.)


This work was found at Project Gutenberg, in a variety of electronic forms, here. There is very little to recommend it.

30 Days of Hypnosis: Day 12

What’s your favorite pop culture reference about hypnosis?

Whew! So many possibilities.

The first one that comes to mind is “The Hypnotic Eye”. A movie about a sinister stage hypnotist who entrances his lovely subjects certainly plays to many of the public misconceptions regarding hypnosis, plus the producers had a professional stage hypnotist instruct the actor how to perform on camera as well as hypnotizing the actresses to go in to a trance on cue. Regrettably, it suffers from low public knowledge so it barely registers as a pop culture icon.

Another one that comes to mind is the classic spiral motif that so represents hypnosis in popular culture. That and the spooky, swirly music that seems to always accompany it in any advertisement or television episode scene transition. The same also goes for dangling crystals and staring eyes.

But I guess my favorite has to be “Trilby”. No other work so influenced the pop culture regarding hypnosis throughout its history. It is one of the few culture icons that directly influenced the English language, with the addition of “Svengali” as a term for a manipulative mentor.

30 Days of Hypnosis: Day 2

What was it like the first time you were tranced or tranced someone?

Actually, I should amend that to the first two times I was tranced. This is a story I often tell to persuade people that hypnosis is real.

In 1984, I attended a convention in Cleveland, Ohio. I primarily wanted to meet Marion Zimmer Bradley, the writer and creator of the Darkover novels and stories, but the real treat was in meeting Katherine Kurtz. I knew Katherine from her Deryni novels, a series of novels set in a medieval fantasy setting much like medieval Europe, where the magic is primarily used by the Deryni. The Deryni are a mutation from humanity which grants them psychic powers, including telepathy and telekinesis, plus what can only be described as magic. One of the telepathic talents used was the ability to induce a hypnotic trance state in unsuspecting or unwarded subjects. It should come as no surprise, then, that Katherine was trained as an Ericksonian hypnotist, and she regularly wrote that into her stories.

On the final day of the convention, Katherine and a few others participated in a panel on hypnosis, and as part of it, she did a group induction and two guided imagery sessions for the audience. I participated wholeheartedly and that is a memory I still treasure.

Which leads to the second time I was ever hypnotized.

A good friend of mine just finished training as a hypnotist, and I invited him to come to the monthly meeting of the local Doctor Who fan club, where performed a demonstration of hypnosis for the members of the club. (I should point out that we would watch a Doctor Who episode at every meeting: this time it was ‘Masque of Mandragora’, which has one of the most evocative hypnosis inductions ever.) After the meeting was over, I volunteered to do a more personal demonstration for another of the club members. He gave me the traditional post-hypnotic amnesia suggestion and brought me out of trance.

And that’s when I went into a fugue state.

I couldn’t think, I couldn’t speak: I could only mouth words that I didn’t know how to say. It only last for maybe 15 seconds before I was put back into trance and then the suggestion was removed.

I didn’t understand then but I believe I understand now what happened: my subconscious understood the suggestion to forget being hypnotized to mean forget ever being hypnotized, and my previous experience was something I definitely wanted to remember, so the two impulses were in conflict and my mind was frozen.

And those were the first two times I was ever tranced.

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