BOOK CLUB October 27th

‘Century’ by Sarah Singleton

Firstly I have to welcome Mrs Heckety of Heckety Beck for being my first ever guest post, So welcome!! And please take the time to visit Heckety's blog, I promise you will love what you see. Heckety has been a great supporter of my Book Club for which I am internally grateful! Heckety initially recommended the Century as a great book to read, and I agree with all of the opinions that follow so ENJOY and don't forget to link up your own posts about the book!
Sarah Singleton is a British journalist and author of young adult fantasy fiction. She was awarded the Booktrust Teenage Prize for her novel ‘Century’ in 2005. ‘Century’ is variously described as Dark Fantasy, or Gothic literature for young people. Having read the book (with bated breath!) I have to agree with these generalities.
The Collins Dictionary defines Fantasy and Gothic as the following:
Fantasy- imagination, esp. wild, visionary fancy; a highly imaginative play, poem, etc.
Gothic- of a style of literature using a medieval or macabre setting, atmosphere, etc. to suggest horror and mystery.

Each of these definitions is true for ‘Century’. Briefly summarised the story proceeds thus:
Century is the name of a huge Georgian mansion, home to the Italian Verga family. The grand house sits amid magnificent gardens and parklands, overlooking a huge lake. But Century's heyday is passed. All but two of the servants have disappeared, and widower Trajan leads a secluded life with his two daughters, trapped in a strange dark winter world that never seems to change. 
Mercy and her sister Charity have never questioned their daily routine, each day unfolding exactly as the next. They live at night, sleep during the day and see their widowed father only rarely - their house shrouded in perpetual winter. Then one day, Mercy is woken to find a snowdrop on her pillow. A sign of spring, a subtle hint at a possible different future. A chance meeting with the mysterious Claudius sets her to questioning everything she has ever known - not least the truth behind her mother's death. Bit by bit Mercy traces her parents' story through the past, travelling back to see herself as a young child, silent witness to the dramatic events Claudius himself plays an enormous part in - only when she has pieced together the truth can her world begin to move on.
Set in that favourite place of young people, the haunted house, two sisters unravel the secrets of their family's past. In the best tradition of classic children's literature, Mercy, the older daughter, rescues the adults from the curse of the previous century, freeing them to move on in the present. Allegorical, metaphysical and very entertaining, with an adult appeal as well.

This gives you no idea of the depth of both the writing and the actual story; the reader must really keep their wits about them as they read: the book is a story within a story with added detective work, horror, suspense and excitement just to keep one involved! I admit that to begin with I found it difficult to get interested as there seemed too many strands with nothing to hook them on- were they Vampires? Faeries? Ghosts? Sorcerers? The European context was obvious, and also the mystery and darkness, not just night-time lack of light, but running deeper, a darkness of the soul, but it took about a fifth of the book to realise part of what was happening, but after that it developed into the sort of book which has to be read hunched in a chair with ones fingers in the ears!!

It is a dark story, and the horror is not just psychological, there are some horrible parts and ideas, but they are necessary to the plot, and not just for the sake of being horrid. My teenage girls didn’t seem to find this aspect disturbing, although I wondered whether they would, some might. In fact, both the girls who read it loved the whole eerie plot and the way that nothing was as it seemed. We all really enjoyed a tale of truly Gothic suspense which was devoid of Vampires, and tested the imagination and memory.

The visual scene-painting is wonderful, and Ms Singleton uses times of beauty and sunshine to contrast with both the dark time and the bleak present in which the girls live. By the end the loose threads are pretty much tied up but there is still room for thought and wondering, which to my way of thinking denotes a book above the ordinary; the characters continued to walk and talk for some time after I closed the final page.

In conclusion, having really enjoyed this novel I would like to read more by Ms Singleton, she has an interesting way of writing and an exceptional imagination! 


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shari @ little blue deer said...

Awesome, Hazel, this is great! I will add it to my "must reads" list! XX!

Heckety said...

Thank you for your kind words! Now that I've claimed it back from my girls I think I must read 'Century' again! I think its one of those books which become old friends over time!

When you get back you'll have to tell us what next!!!!

KyFrugalista said...

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QueenB said...

Stopping by from Follow Me Wednesday

I'm GFC following

Tiffany Christie said...

Here from the bloghop.
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