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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Guest Post + Giveaway with Sandra Schwab, author of Castle of the Wolf


Today I have the great pleasure of sharing with you a fantastic guest post by Sandra Schwab, the author of Castle of the Wolf. In her interesting and incredibly informative post, Sandra talks about the appeal of the Gothic! And who doesn't love Gothic fiction?! Enjoy the guest post, lovelies!

I also have the pleasure of hosting a giveaway of her fantastic book, so be sure to scroll all the way down and enter! :) Trust me, you want it!!!


The Appeal of the Gothic

Since the eighteenth century, the Middle Ages had attracted great interest in Britain: the upper classes not only adorned their gardens with fake gothic temples and fake ruins, but also built themselves fake castles. This was, in large part, due to Horace Walpole, who had bought a small cottage named Strawberry Hill in the late 1740s. Over the next five decades, he proceeded to turn this into a gothic fantasy, a castle straight out of a fairy tale. Strawberry Hill became a veritable tourist attraction, and the numbers of people wanting to see this gothic curiosity induced Walpole to write a guidebook for his servants to use when they were showing visitors around the house.

The gothic style also featured as the backdrop for the gothic novel, a genre which Walpole brought into existence in 1764 with The Castle of Otranto, a singularly strange novel, full of mystery, murder, and mayhem (not to forget an enormous black helmet which drops out of the sky at the beginning of the story). In the gothic novel medieval architecture serves to enhance the aspects of horror, as in scenes in which the hapless, virginal heroine hastens through a maze-like castle or abbey, pursued by the villain with rape or murder on his mind.

The genre flourished until the 1820s and soon became the most popular literature of its time. In no small part this was due to the business acumen of William Lane, publisher and printer at No. 33 Leadenhall Street in London. His was the famous Minerva Press, which mainly published gothic novels, most of which were written by women. In contrast to violent splatter novels like Matthew Lewis's The Monk, gothic novels written by women often featured romantic subplots: the hapless, virginal heroine (often orphaned, too, poor thing) is saved from the ghastly villain by some good-looking, noble young lad.

In modern gothic romances, the heroine is typically not quite so lucky, for here it is the hero who is mad, bad, and dangerous to know: he is, at least in part, the adversary of the heroine. As Jayne Ann Krentz pointed out in her essay for Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women,

[t]he hero in a romance is the most important challenge the heroine must face and conquer. The hero is her real problem in the book, not whatever trendy issue or daring adventure is also going on in the subplot. In some way, shape, or form, in some manner either real or preceived on the heroine's part, the hero must be a source of emotional and, yes, sometimes physical risk. He must present a genuine threat.

This is also something that Cissy, the heroine of my gothic romance Castle of the Wolf, has to find out. Quite surprisingly, she inherits a castle in the Black Forest (the Castle of Wolfenbach, after Eliza Parson's gothic novel of the same title) and soon discovers that it is not only partially ruined, but also inhabited by a rather grumpy man (named after the demon wolf of Nordic mythology):

Fenris von Wolfenbach loomed on the threshold, his dark hair tousled, his eyes gleaming. The harshness of his expression and the wooden leg he again blatantly displayed lent him a dangerous edge, a hint of menace.

And where his frown of hatred darkly fell,
Hope withering fled, and Mercy sigh'd farewell.

Some Byronic hero indeed.

I had intended this to be a very dark and gloomy book – but sometimes things don't quite go according to plan. In the case of Castle of the Wolf, a secondary character, the formidable Mrs. Chisholm, marched onto the scene and eventually stomped much of the gothicness to dust – quite literally so, I'm afraid:

"I have just told Miss Fussell here" – Mrs. Chisholm patted Cissy's hand, while the demon wolf chose a seat – "about this most horrid rat which came to my room last night."

"A rat?" His dark brows rose. "How... unfortunate. These things sadly happen so often in such old buildings."

Cissy's eyes narrowed. How peculiar that she had spent two nights in this castle and had not even caught an itty-bitty glimpse of a rat tail. "You must have been very frigthened, Mrs. Chisholm," she said slowly, while keeping her eyes trained on von Wolfenbach. And indeed: when he looked up, she thought she could detect a glitter of anticipation in his expression.

"Frightened?" The widow laughed heartily. "Oh, my sweet child, not at all! When you're the wife of a merchant and loath to stay at home while your husband travels the world, then you certainly get to see your fair share of rats!"

Von Wolfenbach's face fell.

"Why, this one took a little longer to kill," Mrs. Chisholm continued merrily, "but there's nothing like a pair of good, sturdy boots, I tell you!" As happy as a child in a toy shop, she beamed at Cissy, while the butler turned an interesting shade of green.




Goodreads |
Castle of the Wolf by Sandra Schwab

Kindle edition, 14 October 2013
Originally published in 2007 by Love Spell
Celia Fussell's father is dead, and she reduced to the status of a poor relation in the house of her brother, the new baron, and his shrewish wife. A life of misery looms ahead. 

But, no. There is hope. Deep in the Black Forest, in the Great Duchy of Baden, stands Celia's inheritance. Among fir trees so dark they almost look black The Castle of Wolfenbach rises. It is a fortress of solitude, of secrets, of old wounds and older mysteries. But it is hers. And only one thing stands in her way: its former master, the hermit, the enigma -- the man she is obliged to marry.


WHAT YOU CAN WIN:  1 PRINT copy of Castle of the Wolf
                                                                     10 e-copies of Castle of The Wolf (your choice of format)
ENDS: October 31st
OPEN TO: EVERYONE
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