Merricat is a simple girl with small desires of not being treated badly or bothered by others. She worries about her reclusive sister, Constance, and imagines herself into being nicer to her old Uncle Julian. She aims to keep her familiar lifestyle together and out of the realms of being broken up by those who feel well-intentioned to help or so they think. So Merricat finds ways to protect what she holds dear.
This novel follows what happens at the Blackwood Estate after a tragic arsenic poisoning takes place and kills off the family members who lived there, at least all but three of them, Uncle Julian, Constance, and Merricat. Although Constance has been acquitted from committing the poisonous crime, they live alone, keeping to themselves which allows the nearby villagers to make their own assumptions. Each of the three deal with this tragedy differently which lends to the mysterious atmosphere. As time continues, their cousin Charles enters into the household and his own underlying intentions come into play. Anger overwhelms Merricat and her sense of reality becomes overshadowed by it. The motives of each character are never fully explained but this also adds to the creepiness of the inability each character faces as they are unable to live a so-called normal life.
The only drawback is that there is no clear resolution. Otherwise, it's a timely read for this atmospheric part of the year. Just right for the R.I.P IV Challenge.
I feel the pure gem of this book is the simplistically taut writing style. Here are a few of my favorite passages: (Spoilers, perhaps?)
First, a perfect beginning:
"My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. With any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead." (pg. 1)
"Today my winged horse is coming and I am carrying you off to the moon and on the moon we will eat rose petals."
"Some rose petals are poisonous."(pg. 86)
"Like children hunting for shells, or two old ladies going through dead leaves looking for pennies, we shuffled along the kitchen floor with our feet, turning over broken trash to find things which were still whole, and useful." (pg. 177)
160 pages, Originally published 1962, Penguin Classics 1984/2006, My rating: 3.5 stars