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Sunday, August 06, 2006

***** Airs Above the Ground by Mary Stewart. Gothic.

It's symptomatic of the way I found books and authors when I was younger that I never discovered Mary Stewart's gothics until a couple of years ago. In my teens and early twenties, I loved Victoria Holt's gothics, considering them a peculiar sort of mysteries, and a bit of a guilty pleasure. I hadn't heard the term "gothics". I'd have loved Mary Stewart's books, too, but it never occurred to me to look for books similar to Holt's; nor did I talk to any other readers about them. Not that I really knew any other readers. The same thing happened with mysteries, and science fiction and fantasy. I read everything by a handful of authors, some popular, some more obscure, but completely missed a lot of the giants of the genres.

But it's all good. It just means that I have a few zillion old books to enjoy... along with the few zillion new books on my list.

Airs Above the Ground is a bit unusual for a gothic, in my experience anyway, in that the heroine is already married to the hero. Vanessa thinks her new husband is on a business trip to Stockholm... then she sees him in a newsreel with another woman on his arm--and they're in Vienna.

So when a friend asks Vanessa to escort her teenaged son to visit his father in Austria, Vanessa takes the chance to find out what's going on, and they find themselves caught up in the exotic world of a small traveling circus, international drug smuggling, mysterious deaths, and the world-famous Lipizzaner Stallions. Not to mention the difficulties of being newlyweds.

The atmosphere is pure gothic, and a lot of the Amazon reviews rave about the horses (I'm not a fan of horses), but what I enjoyed most about this book is how all the various threads intertwined and affected each other.


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