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This was a strange one Don t read this book if you Like historical accuracy This book was set in the past no clue when it was supposed to be , but everyone talked and acted modern Want to read a gothic There are elements here, certainly, but I would call this a dark fantasy instead Like clear, sensical plots This was jumbled Like consistent characters with clear motivations the protagonist in this book makes some bizarre, irrational decisions Don t like horror I wouldn t call This was a strange one Don t read this book if you Like historical accuracy This book was set in the past no clue when it was supposed to be , but everyone talked and acted modern Want to read a gothic There are elements here, certainly, but I would call this a dark fantasy instead Like clear, sensical plots This was jumbled Like consistent characters with clear motivations the protagonist in this book makes some bizarre, irrational decisions Don t like horror I wouldn t call this a scary novel, but there are definitely some gross parts Like realistic emotions Despite being confronted with horrible monsters and dead people, the protagonist is neverthan mildly annoyed never gibbering in terror It s strange.Despite all these things, I did like the book, and gave it a generous 3 stars It is really strange, and reminds me a bit of Tanith Lee though not as dreamy or Neil Gaiman though not as polished or emotionally deep I enjoyed the monsters gods in the alternate world yay tentacles , as well as the descriptions of the changing house This was one of those oh I wish there were a 4.5 rating books When I started, I thought it would be Rebecca or Jane Eyre esque genteel widowed governess in a remote manor home with a recent widower and his two sons But shortly into it I realized there was a serious dose of Jonathan Strange here.We open with the murder of Nanny Prum A witness swears there s a black man to blame, but the village constable thinks it was the work of a savage beast One of the daily activities Nanny and the boys This was one of those oh I wish there were a 4.5 rating books When I started, I thought it would be Rebecca or Jane Eyre esque genteel widowed governess in a remote manor home with a recent widower and his two sons But shortly into it I realized there was a serious dose of Jonathan Strange here.We open with the murder of Nanny Prum A witness swears there s a black man to blame, but the village constable thinks it was the work of a savage beast One of the daily activities Nanny and the boys, James and Paul, did was to visit their recently dead mother s grave they weren t dealing well with the death and somehow talking to her was going to help Charlotte aka Mrs Markham takes the boys there, too, but one day on their way back they wander into a fog and come out at a mysterious house, Darkling.Clearly this isn t a normal house, because time passes differently here and Lilly, the boy s mother, is there to great them Charlotte s a little perplexed and worried about this who wouldn t be but the house itself and their host, Mr Whately, combine to calm her nerves a little while the boys visit their mother Of course they return, and Charlotte starts to explore the house there s the library with books that can lead to other worlds, paintings that do the same, a collection of deaths and little wax men candles to help guide her What Charlotte would really like to do, however, is take the boys home permanently and continue her late night chats with HenryMr Darrow, her employer Darkling is in The Ending, a world of weird, gruesome creatures and one with some sort of civil war brewing Trying to get the boys home, she loses them to The Ending and returns to Everton to tell Mr Darrow that his dead wife and living children are in another world dimension universe As any good father would, he agrees to go help her fight for them and they return to The Ending and too muchwould be spoilers.So, on to the quibbles The era in which the book is set isn t stated, but it s clearly a previous century At one point, the author describes Charlotte s composure as Victorian which felt just a little too meta if this wasn t the Victorian Age, it was pretty damn close The game that Charlotte and Mr Whately play is confusing we see her moves because she tells us what she s doing but his are unclear Since he didn t kidnap the boys, that wasn t a move but somehow it seemed as though it might have been Finally, the politics of The Ending were a mess Was the strife about death the humans entering somethingHowever, both the world of Everton and The Ending nicely balanced names, right were well realized and at times I actually wanted to visit Darkling Maybe.ARC provided by publisher Here s the thing if this is a Victorian ish inspired alterna reality, then this book rocks However, if it is meant to be a Victorian historical, with supernatural elementsla Henry James, then this book is kind of a big fail From the start, the setting of the story is fuzzy I just assumed it was Victorian, from the cover design and the ghostly mystery, but there s nothing specific in the text to place it there, and so my reading and review might be totally off.Reminiscent of DuMaurie Here s the thing if this is a Victorian ish inspired alterna reality, then this book rocks However, if it is meant to be a Victorian historical, with supernatural elementsla Henry James, then this book is kind of a big fail From the start, the setting of the story is fuzzy I just assumed it was Victorian, from the cover design and the ghostly mystery, but there s nothing specific in the text to place it there, and so my reading and review might be totally off.Reminiscent of DuMaurier s Rebecca at the start from the similar sounding first lines, to the heroine s dreams of houses burning, and the heavy emphasis on the estate of Everton this novel lacks the chilly tension and creepy mystery that makes Rebecca so fun Boccacino seems fairly enad of Charlotte Markham, his governess narrator, and Mr Darrow, master of Everton, but Boccacino doesn t offer the reader enough time to grow enad of them as well, and so the inappropriate romance feels foisted and odd.The heroine is a widow her employer a widower Both lost their spouses about a year ago or so, both attest to the deep and abiding love they have for their deceased spouses, and yet, Boccacino inserts a romance novel ish frisson of desire At times our sessions together would only end when the sun threatened to appear over the horizon at others they would continue on untilan accidental touch of one hand against the other charged the space between us with something unspoken and unacknowledged p16 For the rest of the novel, Charlotte has a breathless eagerness to be cleaved to Mr Darrow with a few weak protestations that she doesn t want to appear to be a seductress Rather than have a Jane Eyre ish desire for the governess and master to end up together, I found myself telling a friend that Charlotte s interest in Darrow and her musings on life at Everton reminded me a bit of The Hand that Rocks the Cradle early on in the story, she s quick to imagine herself the mistress of the house simply because she cares for the master s children Were Charlotte our anti heroine, this build up would be deliciously wrong, but it s clear Charlotte is meant to be sympathetic, beautiful, and good I could harp on my problems with Charlotte, but I won t and I did so in my Goodreads status updates , so I ll offer a few comments on the rest of the book Boccacino creates a Victoriana playground for his characters to inhabit the village of Blackfield is quaint, quirky, picturesque, and without class strata the dream world of Darkling is a phantasmagoria ish place of evil knickknacks, shifting landscapes, and tentacled overlords When I could let go of my aggravation at the historically inaccurate behavior of our heroine, I really enjoyed the world building, and the creepy atmosphere of the story So, needless to say, I ve got complicated feelings about this book Despite my complaints, however, I am eagerly anticipating Boccacino s next novel not sure if one is in the works, but if there is If his character development matches his world building, then we ll be in for a treat POSTED ORIGINALLY Fangs, Wands and Fairy Dust Charlotte Markham and the House of Darklingby Michael BoccacinoPaperback 320 pagesPublisher William Morrow Paperbacks An Imprint of Harper CollinsOriginal edition July 24, 2012 File Size 5 KBPrint Length 320 pagesPublisher Harper Paperbacks Original edition July 24, 2012 Sold by HarperCollins PublishersDisclosure E Galley provided by writer without expectation No remuneration was exchanged and, except as noted, all opinions herein are POSTED ORIGINALLY Fangs, Wands and Fairy Dust Charlotte Markham and the House of Darklingby Michael BoccacinoPaperback 320 pagesPublisher William Morrow Paperbacks An Imprint of Harper CollinsOriginal edition July 24, 2012 File Size 5 KBPrint Length 320 pagesPublisher Harper Paperbacks Original edition July 24, 2012 Sold by HarperCollins PublishersDisclosure E Galley provided by writer without expectation No remuneration was exchanged and, except as noted, all opinions herein are my own When the nanny to the young Darrow boys is found murdered on the outskirts of Blackfield, Charlotte Markham, the recently hired governess, steps in to take over their care During an outing in the forest, they find themselves crossing over into The Ending, the place for the Things That Cannot Die, where Lily Darrow, the late mistress of Everton, has been waiting She invites them into the ominous House of Darkling, a wondrous, dangerous place filled with enchantment, mystery and strange creatures that appear to be, but are not quite, human However, everything comes with a price, and as Charlotte begins to understand the unspeakable bargain Mrs Darrow has made for a second chance at motherhood, she uncovers a connection to the sinister occurrences in Blackfield and enters into a deadly game with the master of Darkling, one whose outcome will determine not just the fate of the Darrows, but of the world itself Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling is a Victorian gothic tale about family ties, the realm beyond the living, and the price you pay to save those you love michaelboccacino.com JANE EYRE meets THE NIGHT CIRCUS meets ALICE IN WONDERLAND and Edward Gorey with a little Tim Burton thrown in for good measure Seriously, this story was a surprise from quite early in the book It starts off gloomy and very Gothic with an air of despair as befits a tragic governess There are immediate questions and dire warnings Of course, the Nanny has been murdered and wild animals are suspected because she s been torn apart that would make for a very short book The book is muchthan a murder mystery, I asked Michael about that I think it s muchof a dark adult fairytale than anything else There are Gothic trappings, certainly, but I think there s a fable like quality that runs muchdeeply and consistently through the narrative I am a massive, incredible nerd about all things related to Neil Gaiman, Tim Burton, and Steven Moffat I think each of them tell very complex, adult stories using familiar, nostalgic narrative devices, and it gives everything they write this sense of timelessness and melancholy which I love.From talking with Michael at a BEA event I knew the story would head down a spooky, spiderweb laden and dark trail filled with misty bogs and such I was totally unprepared for the unconventional and wholly original mythology lurking on the other side of the mist separating two worlds I asked Michael about the fables that serve as children s bed time stories I asked him if he wrote them and he said he did They re pretty remarkable.While the world here is not rule driven, Michael certainly creates a fantasy unlike anything I have ever read The voice he gives his heroine, Charlotte, is undeniably female This is a goal rarely met by male authors In fact, the only other writer I know who is consistently able to pull it off is Chris Bohjalian.Because it was not what I expected I found myself wondering about Charlotte s sanity I think that she would be worried about her sanity as well Perhaps this is a dream Michael says it is a real experience for the characters, but that there is plenty of allegory.There are really three books in Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling one is the everyday life of an upper class British family of the Victorian period The second is the story of another plane of existence filled with myth and mist The Ending The human world and the The Ending are And then there are the fables The story becomes a bit nebulous as the lines between life, death and the other side start to shift There are things that go bump in the night, and the day as well.Here is a brief excerpt from one of Michael s favorite scenes Charlotte is walking with her young charges as they explore a map they dreamed of Dreams are my favorite things in the world Sometimes they even come true, but sometimes we must learn when to wake up Paul ignored me and pointed excitedly at something up ahead There The path ended at a small fallow creek, but began again on the other side to disappear around a dark, massive cage of roots at the base of an ancient oak tree Whatever lay beyond the magnificent tree was obscured in a thick, roiling patch of fog James wrenched himself free from my hand and leapt over the creek, bounding into the mist before I was able to stop him James I quickly hoisted my dress up to my waist and jumped over the brook, glancing back at Paul to wave him on Together we chased his brother into the mist The air around us grew heavy with a dampness that remained even as the fog subsided, and we found ourselves in the middle of a vast orchard While it had been daylight mere moments before, the moon now hung low in the sky, larger than I had ever seen It was so vast and oppressive I felt that if I were to reach toward the sky I might be able to push the orb back where it belonged, high above on the black velvet mantle of the night It s nighttime here Paul was behind me, hugging himself against the cool air Perhaps I misjudged the time, Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling, page 54The characters are somewhat who you would expect them to be , if life went on as expected, that is But, when challenged, their true personalities, and strengths, come out, and they re anything but what you would expect.I am confident in recommending this story to you I ve really never read anything quite like this dark and unique tale It s a mystical and mysterious journey through a dream of life that haunts the dead and undying I have never thought about reading a slightly lighter Lovecraftian tale told within the confines of a Victorian Gothic novel It s not something that I even considered before, but now that I ve read it, I m slightly confused as to the reason why nobody thought of doing this before Now when I say Victorian and Gothic, I m still speaking of terms of being slightly lighter None of the thematic elements really dominate the structure of the novel Instead it s like the author used them as the basic I have never thought about reading a slightly lighter Lovecraftian tale told within the confines of a Victorian Gothic novel It s not something that I even considered before, but now that I ve read it, I m slightly confused as to the reason why nobody thought of doing this before Now when I say Victorian and Gothic, I m still speaking of terms of being slightly lighter None of the thematic elements really dominate the structure of the novel Instead it s like the author used them as the basic outline of the structure, then filled those lines in with something else What that something else is, I m still not sure I have a word for it.Now despite my apparent confusion, I m here to tell you that I actually really enjoyed this one Sadly, I can t really tell you the reason though There are sometimes, no matter how much you think about or analyze something, you can t really explain your reaction to it I know I liked it I know I enjoyed getting to know The Ending and those that dwelled inside I know I loved the way those denizens were structured after some of Lovecraft s well know Elder Beings I even liked the civil war the author forced them to fight I never thought of the Elder Beings as being political or of having schisms amongst themselves I also thought of them as monstrous beings bent on ending the world as we know it The author took the world of Lovecraft and made ithuman, something I didn t think I would like until I read it.I think the only thing that would have made this book stronger, at least for me, is that I would have liked to see the romantic elements be a bit stronger I guess I can t really enjoy a good Gothic novel without there being a strong romantic element The main romance was between Charlotte and Mr Darrow It was never a relationship I ever bought into or liked, and it always felt as if it existed in her headthan anything else It was a bit too forced for my taste, and because of the direction the book took, it was doomed before it left the ground Similarly the minor romantic liaisons never felt all that explored and the one I liked the most was barely touched upon One one of their trips to Darkling, the oldest Darrow boy is introduced to a young man who belongs to a race of creatures that inhabit the world The particular family takes a human visage, and the two hit it off It s obvious from the get go that there is something between them from the start Of all the relationships, it was the only one that developed a real sense of affection, though it was only shown a few times towards the end.I was going to ramble on about the causes behind the civil war, the landscape that Mr Darrow and Charlotte traveled through on their last foray into the world, and the way Death is introduced but I won t All these elements are interconnected and I think it best that a reader discover them on their own I was even going to touch upon the idea of a parent striking the deal that Lily Darrow made in order to see her children once again But her character and her motivations are, once again, best left to the reader to explore themselves What I will say is that whether you end up enjoying the book or not, Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling will bethan worth the time Just look at this cover I love horror stories and I was fascinated by this one I was really enjoying my reading Unfortunately there was a time in this book that I lost myself because so much was going on and so many characters, I got confused. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here While this book was very beautifully written, I lost interest because the purpose was unclear The book was akin to reading someone else s dream once the characters were in Darkling, with unclear physics, characters intentions who s evil and who s benevolent , and purpose what is Darkling and why are Charlotte and the children there what is the cause purpose of the war One event followed another, without any clear logic or rules that the reader could follow The political conflict in D While this book was very beautifully written, I lost interest because the purpose was unclear The book was akin to reading someone else s dream once the characters were in Darkling, with unclear physics, characters intentions who s evil and who s benevolent , and purpose what is Darkling and why are Charlotte and the children there what is the cause purpose of the war One event followed another, without any clear logic or rules that the reader could follow The political conflict in Darkling that was instigating a war was apparently a major part of the story, but it was not clearly defined, so there was no clear reason for the fighting, and no clear indication on which was the good or bad side, or even a general preference to who would win I m perfectly fine with novels not following real life logic, but some alternative logic must be followed or the story doesn t make sense I finished it to see if it was all explained in the end, but I was disappointed to find out that it wasn t Charlotte Markham, the newly hired governess to young James and Paul Darrow, finds herself taking on additional responsibilities when Nanny Prum is discovered murdered in the nearby forest The children s mother has recently passed away and their father has little time for them.Charlotte, now both governess and nanny, spends much of her time with the boys As a break in the monotony of their lessons Charlotte has them describe their previous night s dreams in a drawing Paul claims to have visit Charlotte Markham, the newly hired governess to young James and Paul Darrow, finds herself taking on additional responsibilities when Nanny Prum is discovered murdered in the nearby forest The children s mother has recently passed away and their father has little time for them.Charlotte, now both governess and nanny, spends much of her time with the boys As a break in the monotony of their lessons Charlotte has them describe their previous night s dreams in a drawing Paul claims to have visited his mother s new home and draws a map detailing its location in a nearby woods Charlotte takes the children on a walk following the directions on the map and along the way they cross over to The Ending, a mystical place in another world where they are greeted by Lily, the boys mother, looking very much alive.Lily has made a sinister bargain with the owner of The House of Darkling where she now resides The boys are not to tell anyone they have seen her, it s part of the deal she made, and that is all she will say She begs Charlotte to bring the children back for another visit Charlotte suspects that some of the evil that has been plaguing the local town is connected to The Ending, but agrees to return anyway for the sake of the children Charlotte soon becomes caught up in her own deadly game with the master of Darkling As she begins to put her plan in place, the true horror of Darkling is revealed.Part Victorian Gothic and part dark fantasy, this is a wonderfully creepy tale told from Charlotte s point of view With beautiful writing and lyrical prose we are introduced to an amazing land populated by a cast of unusual and sometimes ghastly creatures in an alternate world called The Ending, a place where time doesn t exist, and where no one can die.The story was richly detailed with well developed characters and just enough world building to set the tone, bringing out the macabre aura of The Ending Lily would read bedtime fairy tales to the children from a book called Laura Parker Wolfe s Tales of The Ending, creepy stories within the story I loved the atmosphere the author created, the descriptions of the alien residents of Darkling, noises in the night, objects that came to life, moving walls that open and close at will, strange paintings that become animated and a most unusual library.Initially the story has a Jane Eyre feel to it but soon becomesmagical as we spend time in The Ending, with the tale turning darker as it progresses Even though it does have some moments of horror, there is enough mystery, charm and even weirdness to appeal to a wide range of readers An enjoyable book which I heartily recommend I am looking forward to future work from Michael Boccacino.Posted on my blog {Free Epub} ì Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling ô When the nanny to the young Darrow boys is found mysteriously murdered on the outskirts of the village of Blackfield, Charlotte Markham, the recently hired governess, steps in to take over their care During an outing in the forest, they find themselves crossing over into The Ending, the place for the Things Above Death, where Lily Darrow, the late mother of the children, has been waiting She invites them into the House of Darkling, a wondrous place filled with enchantment, mystery, and strange creatures that appear to be, but are not quite, humanHowever, everything comes with a price, and as Charlotte begins to understand the unspeakable bargain Mrs Darrow has made for a second chance at motherhood, she uncovers a connection to the sinister occurrences in Blackfield and enters into a deadly game with the master of Darkling one whose outcome will determine the fate of not just the Darrows but the world itself Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling is a Victorian Gothic tale about family ties, the realm beyond the living, and the price you pay to save those you love Initial reaction Wicked, twisted, dark and delicious This was a wild ride Overall review I loved this book so much Boccacino is a master of descriptions, and I was immediately drawn into the lush dual landscapes of Everton and The Ending One of the things that delighted me about this story is that Boccacino would lull me into a false sense of security by creating a setting that felt vaguely familiar and relatable, and then wham Everything shifted, the petals of the story unfolded, and sudd Initial reaction Wicked, twisted, dark and delicious This was a wild ride Overall review I loved this book so much Boccacino is a master of descriptions, and I was immediately drawn into the lush dual landscapes of Everton and The Ending One of the things that delighted me about this story is that Boccacino would lull me into a false sense of security by creating a setting that felt vaguely familiar and relatable, and then wham Everything shifted, the petals of the story unfolded, and suddenly I found myself staring into a world I couldn t have anticipated with a plethora of creatures I wasn t expecting It was shocking, engaging, and altogether addictive.Everything about this story kept me guessing I couldn t have imagined where things would end up, couldn t have imagined the things Charlotte would endure and have to overcome I especially loved the way her character changed and grew over the course of the novel, and I found myself cheering for her as she fought to discover the secrets of The Ending, and uncover the mysterious Man in Black.There is so muchI can say, but with all the twists and unveilings in the story, I don t want to spoil anything Suffice it to say that the jacket description is accurate this is a story about a governess drawn into a web of death and deceit, and an age old game that seems impossible to win But there is also so muchThe characters are richly drawn and complex, the history of The Ending is a delight to discover, the relationships are heartbreakingly real, and the solutions are anything but black and white.Little things I loved The last third of the book in other words, the ending is titled The Ending but not for the reason you d think Paul and Dabney s relationship.Duncan I could see his smile so clearly in my mind, and he always had something interesting up his sleeve.The strange castle with the woman in the aging, decadent dress So creepy and well described.The stories within the story The Seamless Children may have been my favorite, but it s hard to say They were all great In summation Boccacino has such a talent for writing passages that are deeply sad and at the same time wickedly intriguing It s difficult to even articulate the complexity of emotions I experienced while reading this book A truly engaging, wonderful read