Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Originally published 1847
Scholastic, 20th printing, 1962
Genre: Gothic romance, literature
Synopsis & Review: Jane Eyre is a penniless dependent in her Aunt Reed’s home. She is tormented by her cousins, disliked by her aunt, and barely tolerated by the servants, and she is all of ten years old. Through the auspices of a sympathetic outsider, Jane is sent to the Lowood School, a charitable institution for poor girls. Though the school is at first nearly intolerable, a typhus epidemic and subsequent student deaths soon bring to light the maltreatment suffered by the students, ushering in a regime change for the better. Jane spends six years at Lowood as a student, and teaches there another two years before deciding to make her own way in the world.
Upon advertising for a position as governess to young children, she is invited by a Mrs Fairfax to teach at one Thornfield. The situation proves pleasant; Jane has but one student, a French dancer’s by-blow, and Mrs Fairfax is good company. Soon, however, Thornfield’s master Mr Rochester returns, and the sardonic and brooding Byronic hero soon enthralls Jane. Fortunately for her, our heroine, who he often compares to fairyfolk, similarly enchants Mr Rochester. All seems to be going well despite Jane’s misgivings, when Mr Rochester dark secret is uncovered, and Jane flees alone and friendless into the world.
At death’s door from exposure and starvation, a family of siblings, the Riverses, a brother and two sisters takes in Jane. After being nursed back to health, St John Rivers finds her a place teaching a small local school, and Jane begins settling into a quiet life of obscure usefulness. Fortune intervenes, and Jane’s longlost uncle Eyre dies in faraway Madeira, leaving her a large inheritance. This revelation falls in hand with the disclosure that the Riverses are also relatives, being the offspring of her father’s sister. Ecstatic at the prospect of being part of a family for the first time ever, Jane shares out her fortune with the Riverses, and endeavors to live peacefully with them.
St John, admiring Jane’s fortitude and intelligence, demands that she marry him, and accompany him to India as a missionary. She is nearly overwhelmed by the force of his personality, and wishes to please him, but the prospect of a loveless marriage appalls her. She insists that she can only travel with him as a sister, and as they argue, she feels an urgent call to her from a distant place. Feeling that it must be Mr Rochester, of whom she has heard nothing since her leave-taking, Jane hurries to Thornfield, only to find it in ruins. She fears the worst, but soon learns that he now resides as a small manor called Ferndean, though he is now grievously injured. Upon her arrival, Jane finds Mr Rochester as devoted to her as ever, though more so now that their positions are reversed and he is a dependent, while her independent means for the first time match her personality. And, they marry. click here for more about Jane Eyre
The Curse of the Blue Figurine by John Bellairs
Originally published 1983
Bantam Skylark, 10th printing, 1986
Genre: gothic, horror, children’s
Synopsis & Review: Johnny Dixon loves ghost stories and listening to radio mystery programs and reading Egyptology books, and the three seem to combine when he finds unearths a small Egyptian figuring and a scroll reading “Whoever removes these things from the church does so at his own peril… Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord . Remigius Baart.” in a church basement. Soon after he removes the figurine, however, Johnny begins suffering nightmares and small gray spiders infest the house. He meets a mysterious man who offers him a ring, and from there on, Johnny becomes more and more tightly enmeshed in a tangled web that seems to extend beyond the grave. Unable to confess his problems to his grandparents or his friend Dr Childermass, Johnny worries less about being bullied and more about whether he’ll live another week. click here for more on The Curse of the Blue Figurine
The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring by John Bellairs
Illustrated by Richard Egielski
Originally published 1976
Dell Yearling, 11th printing, 1977
Genre: gothic, horror, children’s
Synopsis & Review: To cheer up Rose Rita Pottinger when Lewis Barnavelt goes off to Boy Scout summer camp, Mrs Zimmerman takes her along on an errand to tidy up her recently deceased Cousin Olney’s estate. On his deathbed, Olney wrote Mrs Zimmerman of a magic ring he’d found, but when she and Rose Rita arrive at his house, it has been broken into, and a ring very obviously taken. They continue on their exploration of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, but soon a resentful figure from Mrs Zimmerman’s past makes itself known. Shadows walk, death spells are cast, and Mrs Zimmerman disappears in the night, leaving Rose Rita to find her and the ring before it’s too late. want to read more about The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring?
Synopsis & Review: Following the untimely death of his parents, Lewis Barnavelt goes to live with his heretofore unknown Uncle Jonathan in New Zebedee, Michigan. Uncle Jonathan is a very minor sort of warlock, and lives in a Victorian mansion filled with stained glass windows, fireplaces, mysterious nooks and crannies, and all manner of odd antiques. Unfortunately, the house is also filled with clocks, in order to drown out the ominous ticking of a clock hidden within the very walls of the house. When Lewis raises the very evil dead in an effort to impress his friend Tarby, he, Uncle Jonathan, and their witch neighbor Mrs Zimmerman must rally together with all their knowledge or the arcane and ridiculous in order to prevent Doomsday. click here for more about The House with a Clock in Its Walls