This year, I’m signing up for Carl’s RIP VI challenge. This blog is so old, I can remember the first year it ran, which was probably the last time I joined in. I don’t read so much in the way of Halloween Texts 101. But this year, I seem to have collected together quite a few appropriate books, and I notice that the RIP challenge has grown to be a huge community event – quite probably because Carl is an outstanding host. So, I’m signing up for four books.










The first three are going to be:

Robert Neill – Mist Over Pendle

Seventeenth century England, and a classic tale of witchcraft, this.(From the back cover) ‘Deep in the Forest of Pendle, people have been dying in mysterious circumstances. The locals whisper of witchcraft, but Squire Roger Nowell, in charge of investigating the deaths, dismisses the claims as ridiculous. Until a series of hideous desecrations forces Roger and his cousin, Margery, to look further into the rumours. And what they discover brings them face to face with the horrifying possibility that a coven of witches is assembling, preparing to unleash a campaign of evil and destruction….’

Michelle Paver – Dark Matter

(Back cover) ‘January 1937. 28-year-old Jack is poor, lonely and desperate to change his life. So when he’s offered the chance to be a wireless operator on an Arctic expedition, he jumps at it. Spirits are high as the crew reach the uninhabited bay where they will camp for the next year, Gruhuken. But the Arctic summer is brief. As night returns to claim the land, Jack feels a creeping unease. One by one his companions are forced to leave. He faces a stark choice. Stay or go. Soon he will reach the point of no return – when the sea will freeze, making escape impossible. And Gruhuken is not uninhabited. Jack is not alone. Something walks there in the dark.’

John Harding – Florence and Giles

This one is a rewrite of The Turn of the Screw. ‘1891. In a remote and crumbling New England mansion, 12-year-old orphan, Florence is neglected by her guardian uncle and banned from reading. Left to her own devices she devours books in secret and talks to herself – and narrates this, her story – in a language of her own invention. By night she sleepwalks, troubled by a recurrent dream in which a mysterious woman appears to threaten her younger brother, Giles. After the sudden, violent death of the children’s first governess, a second arrives, and Florence becomes convinced she has a powerful supernatural enemy. Without any adult to whom she can turn, Florence must use all her ingenuity to both protect her little brother and preserve her private world.’

So far so good. But I can’t decide on the fourth novel. I could read:

Option A – the ‘book everyone’s read but me’ – The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield.

Option B – the ‘book by everyone else’s favourite author’ – Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Option C – the ‘time-consuming one’ – Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Option D – the ‘recent one everyone’s talking about’ –  The Blackhouse by Peter May

Option E – the ‘reliable classic’ – Through A Glass Darkly by Sheridan Le Fanu

Tricky decision, no?

In other news, I’ll be posting on Angela Carter’s Wise Children and Rainer Maria Rilke’s The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge over the next few days. Mister Litlove has been on holiday this week so my schedule is a tad awry.

And, the completely delightful Jodie from Book Gazing is going to read When God Was A Rabbit by Sarah Winman with me for the end of September. If anyone else wants to readalong, that would be lovely.


26 thoughts on “Challenges

  1. Hmmmm . . . your options for book #4 are great! It is difficult to pick one. Stardust was really good, and a lot of fun. The Thirteenth Tale is much loved by everyone. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell has been on my shelves for years. It is just so big!

  2. I was planning on reading the Rilke but was thinking that was next month. So much for that–there is always later, right. I’ve also got the Paver novel to read this year–I’ve heard it is quite creepy so will have to save it for a dark rainy night for maximum chills (and then have nightmares later no doubt). I always look forward to this and Carl is a great organizer. I always enjoy seeing what books everyone else is reading. Have fun choosing your last book–I’m looking forward to hearing what you think of them.

  3. Wow, that is a popular event – lots of people signed up already! I don’t generally read that sort of book, but might dig through my shelves and see if I have anything that would fit. I haven’t read any of your options for the fourth novel so can’t really weigh in on that, but… oh well, I’ll weigh in anyway. Option A sounds good to me, based on the blurb and a few reviews I saw on Goodreads. Hope you enjoy the challenge, and don’t scare yourself too much!

  4. Ooo, I plan to do it this year, too, even though I never have. Tough call for your final choice. I’d love to get your take on both The Thirteenth Tale and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. The latter isn’t as time-consuming as you might think, because you, literally, can’t put it down.

  5. I have only ever met one other person who’s read Mist Over Pendle – dying to know what you think. Paver – definitely one for a dark stormy night when you’re on your own, I was in a London hotel full of people and it was still scary and had an image that will be with me for years. I was very disappointed by The Thirteenth Tale but seem to be pretty much on my own there. Had to go and look at The Blackhouse, which sounds interesting – echoes of Neil Gunn with a murder for good measure, might have to read that. Look forward to reading about your choices!

  6. I also got a Le Fanu to read, totally forgot about it.
    I have read Stardust but didn’t like it as much as some of his other books. I need to look into Mist Over Pendle. Witches and witchcraft is quite my theme….
    I was also tempted to read Dark Matter…It’s never too late to add other books to the list.

  7. So looking forward to reading ‘God Was a Rabbit’ with you and anyone else who wants to have a go. It feels like ages since I finished a lit fic award nominee (although I’m in the middle of the delish ‘The Nightwatch’ by Sarah Waters right now – I know you gave away ‘Fingersmith’ for WBN any chance you’ve read this one as well? I feel all emotional about it.)

    I’d vote for Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. I started it for RIP one year but didn’t complete it, because it wasn’t right for my schedule then, but I remember it being all dense and dark, full of threads to pull at. I’ll be playing along, but might take the two book option. Thanks for reminding me I have the Paver book (in hardback, because I was going to read it right away of course).

  8. I haven’t read the Thirteenth Tale so if you don’t read it you are not alone! I’m going to read Le Fanu’s Carmilla. Your three for sure choices all sound really good!

  9. I read Mist Over Pendle many years ago and loved it, so I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts on that one, and wondering whether to re-read it or just leave it as a good memory. I’m with GeraniumCat on The Thirteenth Tale – it began well and then was disappointing for me too. I liked Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell but it did take me ages to read it – not a quick read for me.

  10. I just ordered “Dark Matter” a few days ago to read around Halloween. I wanted something that would be creepy and scary. I hope it doesn’t disappoint.

    Regarding your dilemma, I can’t really help. I too loved “The 13th Tale”, but I found it more gothic than ghostly. I have Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell on my shelves, but haven’t read it yet but I just know I will like it.

  11. Lola – oh I know, it’s so hard to choose! After reading all the comments, I get the feeling that somehow or other, I’m going to have to read all of them! 🙂

    Danielle – ooh that is such a temptation to postpone the Rilke a bit. I haven’t even begun it, being somewhat behind on schedule…. Talk about being late to your own party! Still, I could push it off a little, and it really doesn’t matter when you get to it. I just hope you enjoy it when you do (well, go into it knowing it will be a strange and unusual narrative, not hard to read, just eccentric in structure). I always love seeing everyone else’s list of books at this time of year, so it’s fun to join in for once. Can’t wait to hear what you think of the Paver!

    Andrew – see, this is what I love about blogging: I end up reading completely different sorts of books, and I’ve always found that extremely interesting. I get stuck in ruts quite quickly, I think, and although the books I naturally choose are usually all beautifully written, they can feel samey. I’m so glad you plumped for an option in the end! It means I can suggest you try the John Harding as I think that’s going to be a most intriguing one.

    deslily – then it really must be good! Thank you for the vote!

    readingwithtea – that make two very compelling votes so far for that one (and I do want to read it anyway).

    Emily – we often like the same kinds of books, so that’s a big plus for me. I can see I may well have to extend the challenge! Can’t wait to see what’s on your list.

    Geranium Cat – I have already begun Mist Over Pendle, because I was wanting to, and your comment just tipped me right over into it! Very enjoyable so far, I must say. Delighted the Paver is good and I’d love someone else to read The Blackhouse, too. It does look good. I’m coming to visit soon as I really want to see what you’ve chosen to read.

    Victor – bless you! Hang on in there for Rilke. I’m torn between doing it a bit later so others can join in and doing it sooner so as not to disappoint expectant readers. I’ll figure it out!

    Kailana – this one has so much support, I can see I am going to have to include it. 🙂

    Caroline – it’s never too late is it? I’ve seen lots of lists with bloggers hedging their bets. I’ve begun Mist Over Pendle and it’s very enjoyable. Really good genre.

  12. Jodie – I have read The Night Watch! And no wonder you are emotional – I thought it was an amazing book, outstandingly written and the backwards structure was so well done. I’d love to know what you think of it. I’m really tempted by Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, and I’ve owned a copy for years so I want to get around to reading it. I think I’ll have to try it at some point before Christmas. And yay! for When God Was A Rabbit – this is going to be so much fun.

    Stefanie – ooh tempting; I know if you read Camilla, I am going to want to read it too…. I think I may just have to give in and read ALL of them!

    Margaret – once I found out that other people had read and enjoyed Mist Over Pendle, I just picked it up straight away. I’m enjoying it very much so far! I’m not always good with chunksters, which is the vote against the Susannah Clarke, and yet I’m intrigued. Well, there’s no crime against starting a book and seeing how it goes, I guess. Are you doing this challenge? I must come and visit and see.

    Ruthiella – would love to know what you think of the Paver. I’ve heard that it is indeed very scary, so I’m going to be cautious and make sure I read it when I’m with other people and it’s still daylight! As for my dilemma, I think I’m just going to have to read them all….. 🙂

    Karen – thank you for your votes! I’ve begun Mist Over Pendle and I’m enjoying it very much indeed. And it’s good to have another vote for the Susannah Clarke, too.

    Lilian – I quite understand. I could never read a book that was classified as horror, so my own choices are quite mild and literary on the whole!

  13. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell is a doorstop of a book, but ever so worth it. Beautifully written.

    Also – I *must* find Mist Over Pendle!!! I have a friend who lives near Pendle Hill who always encourages me to visit…maybe I should come and bring this book!

    Happy reading to you!

  14. A rewrite of Turn of the Screw sounds fabulous! I’ve been meaning to read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell for a while now, but I’m not quite ready to tackle something that long. Some day, though! Your list looks like great fun.

  15. Stardust is so short and easy and magical….. and I believe you promised me a few RIP Challenges ago that you were going to read this one! The author reading his work on the audio version is delightful, if that were a possibility. Have fun!!

  16. I’m also planning on reading a Le Fanu soon, Litlove. Other than that, all your choices will be new to me except by name (note for your stats: I have ZERO interest in Gaiman’s works, ha ha). Cheers!

  17. kate – I really think I am going to have to read them all! And I’ve just finished Mist Over Pendle having enjoyed it very much. I am very curious now about the part of the country where it’s set – lucky you to have friends there you can visit. It would be a great book to read in situ.

    Dorothy – oh I do know what you mean. You have to pick the moment for the chunksters, don’t you? But I’d love to know your thoughts on either of those books.

    Trish – thank you! I must count up the votes properly….

    Qugrainne – my friend, if I made you that promise then I should definitely honor it! I love the idea of listening to an audio book – there’s nothing more relaxing, I think.

    Richard – I must make sure I visit to read your thoughts on Le Fanu. Are you taking part in this challenge, or is Le Fanu just a promise you’ve made to yourself? I’d be very intrigued to see which books you’d choose for a challenge like this one.

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