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An Acquaintance with Darkness: 12/18/06

An Acquaintance with Darkness

The American Civil War has been inspiration for a number of ghost stories, romances and mysteries but until An Acquaintance with Darkness, I can't recall reading a Gothic horror set in this era, especially one set in Washington D.C. Gothic horrors usually takes place in New England, the birthplace of the American version of the genre. Even Stephen King keeps up the tradition by setting most of his novels in or near Maine. When reading this political thriller about the assassination of Lincoln, I was a little put off by the inclusion of various Gothic elements (body snatching, night flowers, strange servants, etc.) into the story. In fact it was this waffling between genres (thriller and horror) that ultimately put me off the book completely. It could never settle on which genre it was and the two were never properly woven together into a coherent story.

Here's my BookCrossing review:

The set up was great; a nice combination of historical fiction and suspense but the pay off disappointed me. Valentine's actions are neither justified nor horrific enough to make him the villain of the story. He just sort of is and his motivations are never fully explained nor are his odd assortment of characters living and working with him. They are just there to be Gothic trapments and that's not enough.

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