It’s been a very strange first week after Labor Day, hasn’t it? It’s that odd “no time but possibly any time and which season is it again?” feeling of the pandemic. I’m going to have to up my pumpkin-themed baking and ghost story consumption to make it feel like fall!
On the plus side, it’s been a wonderful reading week. Someone, ages ago, recommended Riley Sager’s Home Before Dark to me. (Was it you, Miss Eliza?) And, oh, how I loved it! It reminded me so much of the Netflix Haunting of Hill House mini-series that came out two years ago (which is not at all like the real Haunting of Hill House but deeply satisfying in itself). It has just the right amount of classic ghost story chill down the spine without making entirely creeped out.
A week during the pandemic wouldn’t be a week during the pandemic without a Miss Silver mystery! This week it was Ladies’ Bane, in which the heroine visits her sister and husband in the 14th century house they’re renting– and has to figure out who’s trying to kill her. Props to Patricia Wentworth for completely faking me out with this one! It was not at all who I’d thought dunnit.
Right now I’m re-reading Robin McKinley’s Sunshine, which I’d first read when it came out umpteen years ago. It wasn’t the right book at the right time for me back then. I resented it bitterly for not being The Blue Sword or The Hero and the Crown or Beauty or even The Outlaws of Sherwood. I’d hated that it was post-apocalypse and modern rather than once upon a time. I came away with a bitter taste in my mouth and stuck my hardcover copy on the back of the shelf. And now…. It’s absolutely the right book at the right time. I’m loving a lot of the things I hated about it in the first go round– the unapologetic frankness of the heroine. The fact that she isn’t heroic, but just coping– and finding the heroism sideways. That there aren’t bugles blaring and cavalry thundering but a lot of discussion of cinnamon rolls. Which just goes to show that so often, when we bounce off a book, it’s not the book, it’s us. (Although sometimes it really is the book.)
In the happy coincidence category, Sunshine pairs wonderfully with T. Kingfisher’s A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking, which also involves baked goods, magic, and an unexpected heroine.
What have you been reading this week?