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Dark enchantment by Dorothy Macardle
#1
Sad 
This review contains spoilers, lots of them!

This is "A Bantam Gothic Novel" from 1953 and I had high expectations. The setting was wonderful: a French mountain village, laying against the mountain like a half wedding cake. I've been to such places on my vacations to France and I expected it to be an exciting experience to have a gothic mystery happen in such a cute medieval little town. The heroine is a sweet girl of 20 who is vacationing with her father; the year is 1952. A lot of the book is about her growing up from a innocent little girl with no job, no money and no home, into a young woman who can handle lots of challenging situations and is on the brink of marriage to a very nice English young man. So there we have the romance part, all sweet and sugary. The gothic part is what's lacking. It boils down to having a gypsy woman in the village suspected of witchcraft and having all the people grow scared of her and wanting to get rid of her. And yes, a lot of unexplained things happen: lifestock dies, houses burn down and people get injured. The heroine, Juliet, has a job at the inn where the innkeeper, René, is very protective of his wife who finally got pregnant. He suspects the gypsy woman, Terka, might harm her. Not many words are wasted on the fact that Terka had joined him in the maquis during the war and they might have a history together. A woman scorned etc. etc. The innkeeper's wife, Martine, has a hysterical reaction in that her legs are suddenly paralized and everybody says it's the evil eye of the witch. One night René lays in wait for the witch and shoots her in the legs. If it hadn't been for the interference of our hero, he would have shot her through the heart. When hearing of this, Martine suddenly can walk again. The next part is about the court hearings. René is accused and he needs to find proof of Terka's witchcraft. There is no proof but he is saved when the village priest finally admits the accident that almost killed him was caused by Terka's scaring his horse. Conveniently! The priest's role is very strange. Earlier on in the book he publicly sent Terka away when she wanted to attend a church service! His accident was supposedly an act of revenge by Terka. The only proof is his word against hers, which apparently is sufficient. So René is released and Terka will probably be sent to a mental institution. I kept hoping for some twist near the end. This could have been done so easily, but nothing happened. While in the hospital Terka asked Juliet to visit her. She had always been kind to Juliet and called her an angel. She once laid the tarot cards for her and warned her to stay away from the inn and leave the village. Now she wanted to give Juliet a precious ring that would protect her from all evil. Great, I thought, Juliet will wear the ring and be saved while the village is crushed under the mountain. Nope, didn't happen. Juliet refused the ring, even insulted Terka and left the hospital. So the book didn't fulfill its promise in any way. It was a very slow read, though beautifully written.

My verdict, a 4 out of 10
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