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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 stren...more

A classic semi-horror/mystery tale, Le Fanu is rather descriptive and quite detailed regarding people, places, histories, and general situations throughout the novel...

The plot highlights the Wylder and Brandon families, both prone to frequent disagreements, and begins with a proposed marriage be...more

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.

This review was previously posted on the Side Real Press website in 2011.

Le fanu is (rightly) remembered for his excellent ghost stories, which in my opinion, often outshine M. R. James.

However this is not a supernatural affair, but a murder mystery involving the disappearance of Mark Wylder (h...more

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...more

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 ance...more

Although this is not my first exposure to Le Fanu, I had previously been acquainted only with his short ghost stories. "Wylder's Hand" is quite a large undertaking, masterfully written, as is the case with most authors of this most brilliant and fecund period of fiction literature. Somewhat over-...more

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 t...more

Dickensian intrigue with the merest hint of the supernatural. Atmospheric, with quite a good ending.
Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu was an Irish author, probably best known for the short story 'Carmilla' about a female vampire. Carmilla was a great influence on Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, and has...more

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 hal...more

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