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Wylder's Hand

Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

Book Overview: 

The marriage of Mark Wylder and Dorkas Brenden is supposed to end a history of arguments between the two families. However, both people involved do not seem to like the idea. Before the wedding, Mark disappears. But to where? And how will the people around him react to his disappearance?

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .As they did so, Rachel Lake went swiftly and silently before her brother. The moon had gone down, and the glen was darker than ever. Noiselessly they re-entered the little hall of Redman's Farm. The candles were still burning in the sitting-room, and the light was dazzling after the profound darkness in which they had been for so long.

Captain Lake did not look at all like a London dandy now. His dress was confoundedly draggled; the conventional countenance, too, was wanting. There was a very natural savagery and dejection there, and a wild leer in his yellow eyes.

Rachel sat down. No living woman ever showed a paler face, and she stared with a look that was sharp and stern upon the wainscot before her.

For some minutes they were silent; and suddenly, with an exceeding bitter cry, she stood up, close to him, seizing him in her tiny hands by the collar, and with wild eyes gazing into his, she said—

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Community Reviews

A very effective mystery story, albeit one without a sleuth, but rather a story in which a central mystery is established, hints are dropped, consequences are shown and a sustained atmosphere of suspense maintained until all is revealed in a final cataclysm. Pacing is one of Le Fanu's great strength

Picked this up at Halloween for the spookiness, but found the spooky much diluted. Le Fanu is great at moody scenery, ghostly madmen, hallucinations in the drawing room. He's not so good at organizing a novel: bad (pointless) choice of narrator; crucial mystery details subsumed by fuzzy, long-winded

A fun book with an intricate plot. Originally published serially, it's best read at least somewhat episodically so that it's length doesn't feel so cumbersome.

Good grief, I have to say I'm relieved to have finished that!!! Although now looking back on Wylder's Hand as a full novel I can appreciate its impressiveness and dark storyline, there were times during it that it felt like walking through treacle, particularly the descriptions of electioneering a

This book was rated so high for me because the language is simply beautiful. How he uses a phrase to introduce a character, set the scene, or move the plot along is remarkable.

Some stand outs
... and he was a person of that combative temperament that magnifies an object in proportion as its pursuit i

When Mark Wylder, engaged by convenience to his cousin, Dorcas Brandon, disappears with only a few unaddressed letters giving hint to his movements, the marriage and estate falls into the hands of Stanley Lake, a schemer ruled by his temper and jealousies; but is the change merely seized upon by Lak

I loved this Victorian novel of mystery and suspense. The plot is like something Wilkie Collins might have written (though Le Fanu came first) but the language and style are much more accessible, which is perhaps why Le Fanu is not better known – he was written off as a popular ‘sensation’ novelist.

I’m a big fan of Joseph Sheridan le Fanu’s gothic fictions, especially Carmilla and Green Tea, but until now I hadn’t sampled any of his sensation novels. After reading Wylder’s Hand I can see myself tracking down lot more of his work in this genre!

The sensation novel was a kind of Victorian ancesto

A Deft Hand That Is Sometimes Shaky

Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s novels are always treats. You will invariably get a well-established atmosphere, a bunch of memorable and often ambivalent characters, a touch of the supernatural, one or two intriguing mysteries, some wry humour and a narrative style that

I don't know yet what to make of this book - is it going to be a supernatural story, or just a mystery like Uncle Silas? - and it starts very slowly, but hey, it's Le Fanu, I'm gonna stick around.

And I'm glad I did. Le Fanu is the only author who always manages to surprise me. After the first half t

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