Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Wyvern Mystery by J.Sheridan Le Fanu

When Alice Maybell is orphaned as a baby she is taken in by Squire Fairfield, a widower with two dashing sons, Charles and Harry. As Alice blossoms into a beautiful young woman she attracts the attention of not one but two of the men she lives with. The blissful happiness that ensues, however, is short-lived as  she finds herself embroiled in the dark secrets of the Fairfield family's past and the evil ambitions of its present.

Classic Gothic horror? No, unfortunately.
The first half of this story can best be described as a Victorian Romance...

'- never to be separated again, you know, darling, while we live.'
'Poor little woman,' said he fondly, looking down with an answering smile, 'she does love me a little bit, I think.'
'And Ry loves his poor little bird, doesn't he?'
'Adores her - idolatry - idolatry.'
'And we'll be so happy!'
'I hope so, darling.'
'Hope?' echoed she, chilled, and a little piteously.
'I'm sure of it, darling - quite certain,' he repeated tenderly; 'she's such a foolish, little bird -'

Oh dear! It was all a bit much!!

The second half does a turn-around and the Victorian Melodrama kicks in. Now it's a Victorian Tragedy complete with orphans and evil relatives, a madwoman and mixed up babies, death and feminine declines, meandering on to a predictable ending.

The Wyvern Mystery is not, as I thought it would be, one of this author's Gothic horrors. It's a sensation novel and not a very good one.  At best I could only laugh at how ridiculous it worst it was boring!


  1. Oh no! This sounds very disappointing.

  2. I am reading Sheridan Le Fanu's Uncle Silas (for R.I.P VII), it is not as thrilling as I would like it to be but it is pretty eerie. Hope you enjoy the rest of your reads!

    1. I think his Gothic horrors are much better - I've only read Carmilla which I really enjoyed.

  3. Replies
    1. Good! Nothing like something that makes you smile.

  4. Oh dear, that is such a pity. I remember loving Through a Glass Darkly many years ago and I have another Le Fanu on order at the library. We'll see.

  5. All I know about Le Fanu I learned from Dorothy L. Sayers - but now I know one book of his I won't be reading :)