Review: The Villainous Viscount Or The Curse Of The Venns by Lucinda Elliot

This is a new author for me and frankly I only agreed to read this novel because of the tag line: “An appreciative satire of the cliches of classical Gothic”.

I love Gothic romances. I lived for Gothic romances as a little girl and as I’ve gotten older I cannot tell you how much I love them. It’s embarrassing.

So how could I pass up this book about Gothic romances? I couldn’t!

When Clarissa Greendale inherits the fortune of disreputable uncle she hardly knows, she does not expect to find herself forced into marriage with an aristocratic fortune hunter and wild, brawling, debauched social outcast.

Not only that, but her name featured some way down on the list of eligible heiresses he planned to court. Still,Clarinda has always found Harley Venn set off the most unmaidenly tinglings in her; that is one consolation…

Yet neither did Clarinda expect to inherit the legacy of a wrongdoing from half a century before. For the wicked if beguiling Lord Venn seems to have inherited a family curse, which, having dispatched the main perpetrators of the old crime, now moves on to their heirs, who are just as wild a set of rakes as their elders. There are rumours of violent deaths preceded by appearances from an inexorable hooded spectre, of inexplicable strikes of lightning, and of haunted mirrors.

The light-hearted Harley Venn dismisses all these as conjuring tricks. He even hires a drunken charlatan of a professional magician to prove it.

Clarinda is far from sure that there is any rational explanation. Still, it would take more than an enforced marriage to an incorrigible pugilistic libertine or persecution from malevolent spectres to damage her steely nerves and sense of the ridiculous.

This lively Gothic comedy, written as a good natured satire of the cliches of classical Gothic, gives the reader a warm-hearted and courageous heroine, a rascally but beguiling anti-hero and an authentic historical background to the delightfully over-the-top adventures, a cast of wholly believable characters, an engaging love story and many chills on its way to its tumultuous conclusion (summary from Goodreads).

This is a very long summary, I know but it gives you a basic idea of what the book is about. I didn’t bother to read it when I agreed to review because the tag line said it all for me and I was totally in!

Incidentally, this was a great read….maybe not 5 stars great but fun and time consuming (in a good way)! It is a bit of a quirky novel though, so if you don’t absolutely love Gothic lit, then some of the idiosyncrasies of the language and the satire might be lost to you. Same with some of the humor….the humor is dark and while I enjoy a book like that, it might not be for everyones taste.

I think the biggest hindrance of this book is the use of some of the language. I got the gist of a word meaning within the book, but often I had to go look up a word just to be sure I had the meaning right. Sometimes that slowed down the reading process.

This is definitely not a book for everyone. It’s funny and enjoyable if you love the Gothic and are familiar with some of the Gothic writers, plot devices, and the language, but it can be complex and tedious if you aren’t. And you have to remember, this is satire and a spoof on the popular Gothic romances in literature so you have to take it for what it is.

I also think the title needs to be paired down a little. It’s too long and too much of a mouthful to remember. If the author wants to appeal to a wider audience, then I would recommend something a little less wordy.

Personally I liked the book but I also recognized that not every reader might. There were some grammatical issues in the text as well which I am hoping a good editor might be able to clean up a bit, but on the whole it was a fun read and if you love the Gothic classics and have a dark sense of humor then you will probably enjoy reading this one!

Book: The Villainous Viscount Or The Curse Of The Venns by Lucinda Elliot

  • Kindle Edition, 285 pages
    Published (first published August 24th 2016)
    Edition Language
  • Review copy provided by: Publisher/Author in exchange for an honest review

This book counts toward: NA

  • Hosted by: NA
  • Books for Challenge Completed: NA

Recommendation: 3 out of 5

Genre: historical fiction, gothic lit, satire, fantasy, romance

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