Victorian Fantasy on TV: Penny Dreadful

Penny Dreadful

Hello gentle reader,

If you’ve been following this blog and if you know of my love for Victorian Fantasy, you might have guessed this post was coming… Indeed, there’s a Victorian Fantasy show on TV!

This spring, Penny Dreadful airs both in the US and in the UK. Set in London in 1891, the show’s main character is a psychic (played by Eva Green), who teams up with an American actor/sharpshooter (played by Josh Hartnett), to investigate supernatural occurences. They soon come in contact with many well-known characters such as Dorian Gray, Jack The Ripper, Victor Frankenstein and his monster, Abraham Van Helsing and Mina Harker (from Dracula), etc. The title of the show refers to the 19th Century cheap, sensational publications one could buy for a penny.

What I like about the show is that it plays the ‘Victorian London’ card very well. Everything you would expect from such a setting/era is there: the aristocratic mansions, the East End slums, the opium dens, the British Museum and its Egyptian collections, the London Zoo, the dissecting tables of the Royal London Hospital, the asylum and the theatre… among others. Familiar themes for the time period are also touched upon: a few characters attend a séance and talk spiritualism, another character is dying of consumption, another has been searching for the source of the Nile in Africa, etc.

Penny Dreadful is visually stunning, with beautiful and gritty sets and amazing costumes. Each character is intriguing so far, and I’m hoping they’ll all be well developed as the story progresses. The plot is a bit scattered until now, and I’m waiting to see which direction it will take.

Whatever happens, the show has already been renewed for a second season which will air in 2015. Who said Victorian Fantasy didn’t appeal to the masses? 😉

Have you watched Penny Dreadful? What did you think? Feel free to leave me a comment below!

Waiting On Wednesday – 41

Hello gentle reader,

If you’re here to enter my 600 Blog Followers Giveaway for a chance to win a copy of HALF BAD by Sally Green, please click here.

This week, I’m waiting on MURDER (Mayhem #2) by Sarah Pinborough (expected publication: 24th April 2014 by Jo Fletcher). I really enjoyed Book 1 in this duology and I’m intrigued by Book 2’s blurb…

Murder Sarah Pinborough

From Goodreads:

Dr. Thomas Bond, Police Surgeon, is still recovering from the event of the previous year when Jack the Ripper haunted the streets of London – and a more malign enemy hid in his shadow. Bond and the others who worked on the gruesome case are still stalked by its legacies, both psychological and tangible.

But now the bodies of children are being pulled from the Thames… and Bond is about to become inextricably linked with an uncanny, undying enemy.

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly event, hosted by book blogger Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Have you read Mayhem? Is Murder on your TBR list? What are you waiting on this week?

On my bookshelf – Adult Victorian Fantasy

Hello gentle reader,

I’ve recently read a couple of Adult books, all set in Victorian London and with some fantasy elements…

Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack

Title: The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack (Burton & Swinburne #1)

Author: Mark Hodder

Genre: Steampunk/Alternate History

Blurb:

London, 1861.

Sir Richard Francis Burton—explorer, linguist, scholar, and swordsman; his reputation tarnished; his career in tatters; his former partner missing and probably dead.

Algernon Charles Swinburne—unsuccessful poet and follower of de Sade; for whom pain is pleasure, and brandy is ruin!

They stand at a crossroads in their lives and are caught in the epicenter of an empire torn by conflicting forces: Engineers transform the landscape with bigger, faster, noisier, and dirtier technological wonders; Eugenicists develop specialist animals to provide unpaid labor; Libertines oppose repressive laws and demand a society based on beauty and creativity; while the Rakes push the boundaries of human behavior to the limits with magic, drugs, and anarchy. The two men are sucked into the perilous depths of this moral and ethical vacuum when Lord Palmerston commissions Burton to investigate assaults on young women committed by a weird apparition known as Spring Heeled Jack, and to find out why werewolves are terrorizing London’s East End.

Their investigations lead them to one of the defining events of the age, and the terrifying possibility that the world they inhabit shouldn’t exist at all!

What I thought:

I enjoyed this book, although it became clear quite quickly this was an introductory book to a series. It has its own plot, but many aspects of the world and a lot of characters are just introduced to us and not fully developed. I’ll probably pick up at least Book 2 to see where this goes.

Mayhem

Title: Mayhem (Mayhem #1)

Author: Sarah Pinborough

Genre: Historical mystery with supernatural elements

Blurb:

A new killer is stalking the streets of London’s East End. Though newspapers have dubbed him ‘the Torso Killer’, this murderer’s work is overshadowed by the hysteria surrounding Jack the Ripper’s Whitechapel crimes.

The victims are women too, but their dismembered bodies, wrapped in rags and tied up with string, are pulled out of the Thames – and the heads are missing. The murderer likes to keep them.

Mayhem is a masterwork of narrative suspense: a supernatural thriller set in a shadowy, gaslit London, where monsters stalk the cobbled streets and hide in plain sight.

What I thought:

I really liked this book. I loved that it focused on a (real) series of murders that happened at the same time as the Jack The Ripper murders. I also really enjoyed the supernatural twist. The second book in this duology will come out in April and I’ll definitely check it out.

Elijah's Mermaid

Title: Elijah’s Mermaid

Author: Essie Fox

Genre: Historical/Gothic with fantasy elements

Blurb:

Since she was found as a baby, floating in the Thames one foggy night, the web-toed Pearl has been brought up in a brothel known as the House of Mermaids. Cosseted and pampered there, it is only when her fourteenth birthday approaches that Pearl realises she is to be sold to the highest bidder.
Meanwhile, the orphaned twins, Lily and Elijah, have shared an idyllic childhood, raised in a secluded country house with their grandfather, Augustus Lamb. But when Lily and Elijah go on a visit London, a chance meeting with the ethereal Pearl will have repercussions for all of them, binding their fates together in a dark and dangerous way…

In this bewitching, sensual novel, Essie Fox has written another tale of obsessive love and betrayal, moving from the respectable worlds of Victorian art and literature, and into the shadowy demi-monde of brothels, asylums and freak show tents – a world in which nothing and no-one is quite what they seem to be.

What I thought:

This book wasn’t what I expected. It’s slow-paced, and written in the style of a 19th Century novel. The two main characters are very passive, which I don’t really like, especially when they are female characters. And all in all, it was quite predictable. Maybe it just wasn’t for me.

What have you been reading lately? Any Victorian book you’d recommend?

Feel free to leave me a comment below!

Victorian England… on TV!

Hello gentle reader,

By now you must know how much I love all things Victorian and I’m delighted to report that this autumn’s TV schedule allows me to indulge in my passion for this topic. There are currently three shows that take place in late 19th Century England. Each one shows a different aspect of this era. Have you watched them?

Dracula_NBC

Dracula – Historical Fantasy

Season 1 began on 25th October in the US and 31st October in the UK

This is a retelling of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Set in 1890s London, it introduces Alexander Grayson (Dracula), a vampire posing as an American entrepreneur set on revenge against the Order who has killed his wife and turned him into a creature of the night. He is helped in his plans by Abraham Van Helsing. But he also meets Mina Murray, engaged to journalist Jonathan Harker, and falls in love with her.

Dracula - Season 1

Why I’m watching it: Vampires in Victorian London! Two of my favourite things put together! I’m also really enjoying the beautiful sets, gorgeous dresses and amazing cinematography.

Dracula set

Dracula set 2

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Ripper Street

Ripper Street – Historical Mystery Drama

Now in its second season, this show was first broadcasted in the UK in December 2012 and in the US in January 2013

Set in 1889 Whitechapel (London East End) after the Jack the Ripper murdering spree, this show follows the paths of three policemen investigating the everyday crimes occuring in their impoverished district. Their investigations take them to slums, pubs, factories and brothels where they encounter all sorts of characters and situations.

ripper_street

Why I’m watching it: because it’s realistic and gripping. No glamourous dresses or high society plots here: poverty and crime are everywhere, yet each character fights to make their life and their district better.

Ripper Street 2

Ripper Street 3

Ripper Street 4

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the paradise bbc

The Paradise – Historical drama

Now in its second season, this show was first broadcasted in the UK in September 2012 and in the US in October 2013.

Based on Emile Zola’s Au Bonheur Des Dames (“The Ladies’ Paradise”), this show is set in 1875 North East England. It portrays lives of the people who work or shop in the first department store, “The Paradise”. The main character, Denise Lovett, comes from a small town to work as a shopgirl in ladies wear at the store, where she falls in love with the shop’s owner. But her ambitions are seen as a threat by many…

The Paradise BBC set

Why I’m watching it: because it’s light and fun and highly enjoyable. The dresses are beautiful, the heroine lovely, the villains villainous, and all always ends well. The upmarket department store, entirely recreated at Lambton Castle, is a wonderful setting.

The Paradise

The Paradise BBC Denise

So tell me, are you watching these Victorian shows? What do you think of them? Make sure to leave me a comment below!

Waiting On Wednesday – 30

Hello gentle reader,

this week I’m waiting on Witch Finder by Ruth Warburton (expected publication: 2d January 2014 by Hodder Children’s Books). It’s a YA Historical Fantasy set in Victorian London and the first book in a planned trilogy.

Witch Finder

From Goodreads:

London. 1880. In the slums of Spitalfields apprentice blacksmith Luke is facing initiation into the Malleus Maleficorum, the fearsome brotherhood dedicated to hunting and killing witches.

Luke’s final test is to pick a name at random from the Book of Witches, a name he must track down and kill within a month, or face death himself. Luke knows that tonight will change his life forever. But when he picks out sixteen-year-old Rosa Greenwood, Luke has no idea that his task will be harder than he could ever imagine.

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly event, hosted by book blogger Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Have you heard about Witch Finder? Is it on your TBR list? What are you waiting on this week?

Book of the Week – 21

Hello gentle reader,

this week I’m reading Dodger by Terry Pratchett (published in September 2012). It’s a standalone book that doesn’t belong to the Discworld series. Instead it’s a YA Historical Fantasy that just came out in paperback, and I really recommend it!

dodgerterrypratchett

From Goodreads:

A storm. Rain-lashed city streets. A flash of lightning. A scruffy lad sees a girl leap desperately from a horse-drawn carriage in a vain attempt to escape her captors. Can the lad stand by and let her be caught again? Of course not, because he’s…Dodger.

Seventeen-year-old Dodger may be a street urchin, but he gleans a living from London’s sewers, and he knows a jewel when he sees one. He’s not about to let anything happen to the unknown girl–not even if her fate impacts some of the most powerful people in England.

From Dodger’s encounter with the mad barber Sweeney Todd to his meetings with the great writer Charles Dickens and the calculating politician Benjamin Disraeli, history and fantasy intertwine in a breathtaking account of adventure and mystery.

Beloved and bestselling author Sir Terry Pratchett combines high comedy with deep wisdom in this tale of an unexpected coming-of-age and one remarkable boy’s rise in a complex and fascinating world.

This book has everything I love: Victorian London, history mixed with fantasy, a wonderful main character, an incredible supporting cast, and a great mystery. If you like this genre, I recommend it!

What are YOU reading this week? Feel free to let me know in the comment section!

Sunday Giveaway – A Great And Terrible Beauty (closed)

Sunday GiveawayHello gentle reader,

this summer I give ONE BOOK per week, every Sunday.

Today I’m giving away A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY by Libba Bray, a YA Historical Fantasy published in 2003 by Simon and Schuster.

AGreatAndTerribleBeauty

From Goodreads:

A Victorian boarding school story, a Gothic mansion mystery, a gossipy romp about a clique of girlfriends, and a dark other-worldly fantasy–jumble them all together and you have this complicated and unusual first novel.

A Great and Terrible Beauty is an impressive first book in a fascinating trilogy.

Giveaway information:

The giveaway is open until Wednesday 17th July 2013 at 9am (BST time).

To enter please fill in the contact form below with your name and email. If you follow my blog by email or WordPress , if you are a Twitter follower, if you like my page on Facebook, if you follow me on Pinterest or Tumblr, or if you tweet about the giveaway, this will grant you an extra entry. Mention it below.

Entrants must be at least 13 years of age.

This giveaway is open Internationally, as long as the Book Depository ships to your country.

The winner will be chosen randomly, notified by email and will have 72 hours to reply or a new winner will be chosen.

I hold the right to end the giveaway before its original deadline without any prior notice.

I hold the right to disqualify any entry as I see fit.

Privacy information: no information given for this giveaway will be used for other purpose than this giveaway. All information provided (names, emails and mail addresses) will be deleted after the giveaway.

Good luck and feel free to leave me a comment below!