Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Marcia of The Printed Page.
Pretty good week here.
First off, from the author I got:
Then I was shopping for Christmas presents on the B&N website. Big mistake, because I ended up buying three books. The last two were on sale, so I couldn’t pass them up. The first one just intrigued me to the point that I figured what the hell!
From School Library Journal:
This engaging biography examines the life of Olive Oatman, who was 13 years old when Indians attacked her Illinois Mormon family on its journey west; she was subsequently adopted and raised by the Mohave tribe. Mifflin (English, Lehman Coll., CUNY) tells Oatman’s story, from the unorthodox religious convictions that led her family west, through her captivity and assimilation into Mohave culture, to her rescue and reassimilation. Mifflin engagingly describes Oatman’s ordeal and theorizes about its impact on Oatman herself as well as on popular imagination. The author seeks to correct much of the myth that has sprung up around Oatman, owing partly to a biography written with Oatman’s participation during her life. Mifflin takes the position that Oatman was almost fully assimilated into Mohave culture and resisted “rescue,” and that her return to mainstream society was a cause of ambivalence, if not anxiety. Though Mifflin sometimes seems a bit eager to make this argument, her book adds nuance to Oatman’s story and also humanizes the Mohave who adopted her. Recommended for general readers as well as students and scholars.
A grandmother’s family turns against her in Mailman’s uneven debut historical about witch trials in 16th-century Germany. The people of Tierkinddorf, on the brink of starvation following years of bad weather and poor crops, suspect a witch has cast a spell on them. Under the guidance of a visiting friar, the townspeople burn at the stake a local healer. When their luck does not improve, attention turns to the healer’s longtime friend, Güde Müller, the novel’s narrator and a widow who lives with her son, Jost; her daughter-in-law, Irmeltrud; and their two children. Güde has been recently tormented with visions of witches and of the devil disguised as her late husband, and is uncertain whether the apparitions are real. When Jost and the other village men strike out on a hunting expedition, Irmeltrud begins, in her husband’s absence, a campaign to finger Güde as a witch. Mailman creates an intense atmosphere of hunger, fear and claustrophobic paranoia, though the secondary cast is flat and Güde’s mental state doesn’t always allow for lucid narration. Fans of supernatural fiction will want to give this a look.
Considering the recent rush of door-stopping historical novels, first-timer Kostova is getting a big launch—fortunately, a lot here lives up to the hype. In 1972, a 16-year-old American living in Amsterdam finds a mysterious book in her diplomat father’s library. The book is ancient, blank except for a sinister woodcut of a dragon and the word “Drakulya,” but it’s the letters tucked inside, dated 1930 and addressed to “My dear and unfortunate successor,” that really pique her curiosity. Her widowed father, Paul, reluctantly provides pieces of a chilling story; it seems this ominous little book has a way of forcing itself on its owners, with terrifying results. Paul’s former adviser at Oxford, Professor Rossi, became obsessed with researching Dracula and was convinced that he remained alive. When Rossi disappeared, Paul continued his quest with the help of another scholar, Helen, who had her own reasons for seeking the truth. As Paul relates these stories to his daughter, she secretly begins her own research. Kostova builds suspense by revealing the threads of her story as the narrator discovers them: what she’s told, what she reads in old letters and, of course, what she discovers directly when the legendary threat of Dracula looms. Along with all the fascinating historical information, there’s also a mounting casualty count, and the big showdown amps up the drama by pulling at the heartstrings at the same time it revels in the gruesome. Exotic locales, tantalizing history, a family legacy and a love of the bloodthirsty: it’s hard to imagine that readers won’t be bitten, too.
So–have you read any of these? If so, what are your thoughts? What did you get this week?