Posts Tagged ‘mesmerism’

“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 Harvest of Time” by Alastair Reynolds (2013) — Doctor Who

Synopsis

Mysterious events involving disappearing oil rigs and a secret Defense Ministry project attract UNIT’s attention, especially when the Master’s involvement becomes apparent. The Master is being used as a consultant by a Ministry of Defense communications project but in reality he is using them to broadcast a tachyon rescue signal to his past and future selves. However, the rapacious alien race of the Sild intercept the signal and use it to pluck various incarnations of the Master out of time, starting to erase him from existence. Then the alien invasion begins, whose object is to capture the Master himself as the Master Stroke of their Master Plan of creating the Master Computer, built of all the incarnations of the Master they were collecting. 1 They don’t find him, thanks to the interference of the Doctor who came to rescue him, which only leads to the aliens capturing him anyway in the far-flung future. But that is exactly what the Master wants, because the Master is in control of the computer, not the Sild, as they discover.

⇒ Continue reading ““The Harvest of Time” by Alastair Reynolds (2013) — Doctor Who”

“The Devil’s Night” — David Jacobs

[amtap book:isbn=0425178609]

They only come out at night

Cloth tearing, she spread-eagled her arms and legs, tautening the leathery folds of swelling batwings. The wings were part of arms, growing out of the shoulders, attached to the long thinning skeletal arms and legs with scalloped leathery black bat membranes.

Batwings beat the air frantically, trying to stop or at least slow the fall.

Among the Undead, only the most powerful vampires can muster the occult force needed for shapeshifting, to become a giant bat, a wolf, or mist that can drift through solid walls.

Such a queen vampire was Marya Zaleska.

Countess Marya Zaleska, Dracula's Daughter.

The Universal Monsters: Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, the Wolfman, Dracula's Daughter. All returning, just as they returned in so many Universal horror movies, this time in fictional form.

⇒ Continue reading ““The Devil’s Night” — David Jacobs”

“The Brides of Fu Manchu” (1966)

[http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060188/]

The master of evil takes a harem of horror!

Would-be world conqueror Fu Manchu returns, holding the beautiful daughters (are there ever any others?) of important scientists in order to blackmail their fathers. With their help, he is able to construct a device capable of transmitting destructive energy from his mountain stronghold anywhere in the world. However, his eternal foe, Sir Dennis Nayland Smith, is always ready to contest the sinister Mandarin's plot.


[youtube AZzHmLFcU-I]

The hypnotic action starts immediately: scientist Otto Lentz is brought before Fu Manchu and his sinister daughter Lin Tang (played by Tsai Chin: it is obvious that she is supposed to be Fah Lo Suee.) in a throne room lined with the placid forms of a multinational group of young women, all the "brides" of Fu Manchu. There, he is ordered to cooperate. When he refuses, his beautiful daughter Marie is brought forth, looking equally as placid, is if drugged. She is led before Lin Tang, who takes the girl's head in her hands and closes the girl's eyes with her thumbs. When released, Marie opens her eyes to stare directly in the eyes of her captor. Just that easily, Marie is under the control of Lin Tang and Fu Manchu. At their direction, she sends another of the "brides" to her death, and her father is blackmailed with the threat of awakening her with the full knowledge of her action. Only then does the audience get an idea of what the sinister Mandarin's plot is: the scientists have all been working on parts of a device that will transmit destructive radio waves to anywhere in the world. With it, he plans to destroy an upcoming arms conference, sowing disorder and chaos in the West.

Sir Dennis Nayland Smith, however, is always there to oppose the sinister Mandarin, and through his investigation into the disappearances of the "brides" is trying to prevent the next disappearance. To that end, he employs the help of Franz Bauer, Marie's fiancee, and arranges for him to be taken in place of the next scientist on Fu Manchu's list. Lacking the aid of the scientist, and with Nayland Smith closing in on both the London hideout and Fu Manchu's hidden lair, the final assault on the conference goes terribly awry, as the transmitter is overloaded and the entire installation destroyed. Befitting their status, Fu Manchu and Lin Tang escape through a secret passage and survive the destruction, in order to return in the next movie.

There are three other hypnotic scenes: the first, when Lin Tang enters the dining room with all of the "brides" to take Otto Lentz away; the second, when another of the "brides" is brought before Fu Manchu; and the last is during the riot when the "brides" attempt to escape. There is also a brief moment at the end of the movie, after all of the "brides" were rescued and Fu Manchu's lair destroyed, when they all pause, turn and stare blankly back at the ruin, as if hearing the voice of Fu Manchu commanding them one last time.

  • In the first, Lentz and Marie are saying goodbye when Lin Tang enters the room: at that moment, all of the girls stand and are entranced. Marie, even, is completely oblivious to her father, seeing and hearing only Ling Tang.
  • In the second, the bride is terrified by the sight of a pit full of snakes, then, in her terrified state, is mesmerized by Fu Manchu himself.
  • In the last, during the riot as the "brides" are battling the guards. Into that chaos strides Lin Tang, who takes one of the women by the shoulders and stares into her eyes, entrancing her. However, another of the "brides" sees that and knocks Lin Tang unconscious. Not so when the imperious Fu Manchu enters, as which point every one of the "brides" falls back into their placid trance state.

[youtube TW8d3cQNo-I]

The above clip is actually from two different movies of this series: the first half is from the third movie, "The Vengeance of Fu Manchu", while the second half, starting at about 0:53, is from this movie, and is a longer and better version of the scene shown previously. It also speaks of Marie being "prepared" which tends to confirm that she is somehow drugged. Just ignore the random clip inserted somehow in the middle.

Commentary: The second of five Fu Manchu movies starring Christopher Lee in the title role. "The Brides of Fu Manchu", a sequel to "The Face of Fu Manchu" of the previous year. It has nothing to do with the novel "The Bride of Fu Manchu", which is about

It should be noted that this is the first time that Fah Lo Suee (or whatever she is named in the movies) was played by a true Asian actress: before this, the character was always portrayed by a Western actress, including Myrna Loy.

Recommendation: For sheer historical value, I would recommend the movie, if it can be found. Christopher Lee has a certain amount of sedate fun in this movie, which I believe is the best of the five of this series, and possibly of all the later Fu Manchu movies, which is not really saying much.

Note: For years, I thought these were Hammer films, what with Christopher Lee starring in them: the look was so similar to the Hammer style it was pretty easy to confuse the two, as director Don Sharp also directed such Hammer classics as "Rasputin: The Mad Monk" and "The Kiss of the Vampire" , as well as a number of "Avengers" TV episodes and an episode of the "Hammer House of Horror" anthology TV series. The "Avengers" connection also carries over to his Director oh Photography, Ernest Steward who also worked the series.

Trivia: If you watch carefully, you will see a somewhat familiar face: one of the guards, Feng, was played by Burt Kwouk, who is famous for playing Cato on the Peter Sellers "Pink Panther" movies. Kwouk has a very long acting  resumé, including other Fu Manchu films, and is still working today.

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