Welcome, my fellow Book Dragons to Throwback Thursday. Let us start with a special welcome to all the new members of our Tribe, if you have recently joined us, please know you are appreciated and gather round the fire place as I tell you of our Gem this blustery January evening.
Our Gem is quite beautiful. See as I hold it up to the fire light, the smokey glint? The fine facets? Similar to cairngorm in appearance, but with a touch of dark destiny when One holds it in the claw. The way it seems to act as a prism and reflect it’s surroundings and then suddenly goes dark and dim? Fascinating, isn’t it? This is “The Companion” by Gem Maker Kim Taylor Blakemore.
Tonight this Gem takes us back in time to New Hampshire in the year 1855. The first thing we read is the start of a narrative from the New Hampshire State Prison. Our narrator is a comely young woman, who, though worn and stressed, has managed to keep not only her looks, but her wits about her. This is Lucy Blunt, lately a maid in the house of successful business man, Mr. Burton and his lovely, but blind wife. Lucy is speaking to her lawyer and explaining a series of deaths. He believes her to be innocent, but she does not seem to care for herself. Before becoming a maid, she was a mother to a baby boy who died of the ague at three days old.
How has Lucy ended up in a dank, mildewed cell of the State Prison? How could such a quiet and once lovely young woman end her life’s journey on the gallows? Did she actually murder three people in cold blood, or is she a dupe? Will she die an innocent or will the State of New Hampshire free a murderer? This tale held me enthralled for six hours while I read and only took a break for another cup of tea.
Kim Taylor Blakemore has woven as fine a tale in this story as ever I have read. It reminded me very much of the old Poe stories, but even more in it’s atmosphere and elegance of ‘Dragonwyck’ by Anya Seton. Ms. Blakemore may well be our modern Anya. This is American Gothic at it’s finest. I did not want this book to end and yet I could not wait to devour the last pages to find out our Lucy’s fate. Yes, OUR Lucy. It is very rare that I think of a character as mine, as someone I become endeared too, but Lucy hooked me from the very first paragraph.
Ms. Blakemore has not wasted a single syllable here. Her characters are very realistic. Her dialogue – perfection. Secondary characters became real human beings. There is a scene where the cook is given criticism in the midst of a long, freezing blizzard that has prevented nearly the entire household from going outside for days. She does not react normally to this, but has a fit of ‘cabin fever’. If you have read old accounts of human going through a bout of this, it is more than just the urge to go outside and plant pansies. It can be violent, terrifying and has driven more than one grown man to kill even his family. Imagine being stuck like that for days on end. No radio, no TV, no internet and if you were someone like cook, you might not even have access to books.
I will not tell you more, because as you older members of our Tribe know, I do not do spoilers. But I will tell you this..pre-order this now, it goes on sale January 14th. Get it and when you begin to read it, make sure it’s several hours before bed or even Maxwell House is not going to help when you don’t get any sleep, because even after you finish it.. it sticks in your mind, swirling about like a leaf in eddy. It is currently available for pre-order on Amazon for free on Kindle Unlimited and is more than reasonably priced in other media forms. https://www.amazon.com/Companion-Kim-Taylor-Blakemore/dp/1542006392
Until tomorrow I remain, your humble Book Dragon, Drakon T. Longwitten
I won my copy in a giveaway.