Archive for February, 2015

“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.

⇒ Con­tin­ue read­ing ““The Third Cir­cle” by Aman­da Quick”

“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.

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

“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.

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