Thursday, 23 November 2017

What Do You Believe? (His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet)

"Those awaiting the appearance of a monster were sorely disappointed...the prisoner was no more than a boy." - Graeme Macrae Burnet, His Bloody Project, page 191

His Bloody Project is a stunning execution of the unreliable narrator. The premise is simple, Roderick Macrae has committed a triple murder. His lawyer launches an insanity defence. It's made up of a number of documents: Roderick's account of his life and crimes, autopsy reports, a run-down of the trial... It's a fiction novel that reads like true crime.

There's one more thing you should know. It's set in 1869. This means that appearance plays a massive part in the designation of criminal status. For example, there was the "science" of phrenology which was all about the shape of your head - a bump in the wrong place could brand you violent or lazy. Morality is important too, especially in terms of family. This is the era when evolution is new, and with it came a fear of devolution - were things like low morality and criminal behaviour hereditary? It also brings up some serious questions about capital punishment - Roderick is seventeen. If he's found guilty, he's dead.

Without giving too much away, I will say I believed Roderick right up until I read Flora's autopsy report. After that, I began to have serious doubts. It wasn't that I necessarily thought Roderick was in the right - you could have hours of debate over whether or not Lachlan Broad was persecuting his family or properly enforcing the law - but I could see it his way. I could understand his motive, even though I didn't agree with his actions. 

But Flora's autopsy revealed information that Roderick's account didn't.

Gender as a theme was really interesting. Our perception of the Victorians as stuffy and repressed is very much a reflection of upper class England at the time. This novel is set in the Scottish highlands and features predominantly working class characters. As a result, attitudes to courtship are, not necessarily more mordern, but certainly more relaxed. Ideas of morality? Not so much. I mean the comparison of John Macrae's response to Roderick's situation and Jetta's situation is alarming to say the least. 

If you like history, unreliable narrators, or just a good murder story, you can't give this one a miss.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Attack of the Two Star Stories (Sunday Post #13)

Run by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

It's Sunday 11th November, which means that if you pop over to Tumblr right now you'll be able to see me suffering as I attempt a 10K day. 

(I don't remember you mentioning this before.)

That's because I decided to try it on a whim yesterday. I'm going to do live-updates to keep myself accountable. You can join me if you want. After all, isn't suffering together the very heart of NaNo?

News from the Reading Front

I found out something VERY exciting yesterday!
Joanne Harris has a new Runemarks book coming out next year!

Mark your calendars, guys! Runemarks-Loki returns on the 20th of March 2018.

As for books I've read since my last Sunday Post...

The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allen Poe - Two Stars

The Mystery of Marie Roget by Edgar Allen Poe - One Star

The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allen Poe - Two Stars

Iphigeneia at Aulis translated by Jane Lumley

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Dracula by Bram Stoker - Review

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

Trent's Last Case by E.C. Bentley - Two Stars

And two comics. 

(As you can see, she's been seriously enjoying her coursebooks.) 

The module is brilliant, but I'm finding some of the novels to be a bit of a slog. 

News from the Writing Front

I have just over 5K. I should be hitting 20K today.

(Hence the highly unrealistic plan to write 10K tomorrow.) 

I have all day.

(Assuming you get up and focus.)

Which I will. Have a little faith, would you?

(Maybe if you had a better track record.)

News from the Blogging Front

In case you missed the announcement, Ivyclad Ideas is on Instagram now.  

How's your week been?

Monday, 6 November 2017

I'm Two!

As of today, Ivyclad Ideas has been around for two whole years! To celebrate, I've gone back through the archives to round up some of my favourite posts.

A Brief Guide to Gothic Tropes

Part One - Character | Part Two - Setting | Part Three - Theme

I love Gothic fiction so this was a really fun trilogy for me to write. It was originally supposed to be just the one post but it got far too long. Brief in name only.

Folding the Corners Over, it's NOT a Crime

Simply for the voice. Crafting the voice for this was too much fun.

Ten Problems Every Bookworm Can Relate to

For Ivy's snark as much as for all the people in the comments going, "YES. ALL OF THIS."

(Aw. You do appreciate me.)

Tolerate. The word you're looking for is tolerate.

Deadly Sins and Heavenly Virtues

The Seven Deadly Sins of Reading | The Seven Heavenly Virtues of Reading

Readers, saintly angels or angst-ridden demons?

(The second one is more fun.)


Writers Don't Owe Us Anything

I was salty when I wrote this, but the point still stands. This is actually my all-time most popular post!

Shout-out to our regular commenters Kate @ The Magic Violinist, Shar @ Virtually Read, and Cait @ Paper Fury.

Everyone in the comments gets virtual cake!

Sunday, 5 November 2017

What is Bonfire Night?

"Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason, and plot,
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot..."

Tonight, up and down the country, Brits will be setting off fireworks. Some of them will also be burning effigies, traditionally of Guy Fawkes, on bonfires. That's because tonight is Bonfire Night.

(Note: Bonfire Night is also known as Guy Fawkes Night, and Firework Night.)

Bonfire Night has its roots in the 1605 Gunpowder Plot. Guy Fawkes was one of the men who planned to blow up the House of Lords and kill King James I in the process. He was caught guarding the gunpowder after an anonymous tip-off led to a search of the building. After days of torture, he confessed to the plot. He and several of his co-conspirators were convicted of high treason and sentenced to be hung, drawn, and quartered. 

Why did Guy Fawkes want to assassinate the king? Well, James I was a Protestant and Guy Fawkes was a Catholic.

But why was that grounds for murder?

We can blame Henry VIII for that. You see, when the Pope wouldn't let him divorce Catherine of Aragon, he stomped his foot and started his own religion: The Church of England (Protestantism). He also gave himself the title 'The Defender of the Faith'. This event is known as the Reformation. Following it, Henry was able to grant himself a divorce and marry Anne Boleyn. Having unsettled the entire country simply to gain her hand, he chopped her head off one hundred days later (give or take). 

The marriage might not have lasted, but the ramifications of the reformation were felt for years afterwards. Not only did Henry dissolve the monasteries (1536 - Dissolution of the Lesser Monasteries Act) and pass the Treason Act (1534), making it punishable by death to deny that the King was head of the church or, if we're being technical, even to criticise anything he'd done, he also started killing Catholics. 

The line of succession following Henry's death was, to put it bluntly, a mess. He had declared his first daughter illegitimate after his divorce from Catherine of Aragon, and done the same with his second after he beheaded Anne Boleyn. Later, he had both daughters restored to the line of succession, though he never acknowledged either of them as legitimate. Of course, his son Edward (born to his third wife, Jane Seymour) inherited the throne first. He was a protestant but he died young. Next in line was Mary, a Catholic, so, on his deathbed, some conniving advisors convinced him to put his Protestant cousin Lady Jane Grey on the throne. 

Jane, very sensibly, told them she thought this was a terrible idea. 

Jane was proved right when Mary had her executed for high treason. 

(Unfortunately, I don't think she got to say, "I told you so.")

In 1553, Mary I ascended and promptly started burning protestants. Upon her death, Elizabeth I became queen. She was a Protestant. It's important to bear in mind here that it's perfectly feasible for someone to have lived through the reformation, Edward, Mary, and part of Elizabeth's reign. I mean, can you imagine having to keep track of which religion you were meant to be each week?

Anyway, Elizabeth's death in 1603 brings us to the ascension of James I, another Protestant. Guy Fawkes and the rest of the plotters thought that they could somehow manouver a Catholic onto the throne if James died. 

On the 5th November 1605, people celebrated the king's continued survival by lighting bonfires all over London. This tradition survives to this day.

Forty four years later, the British would be celebrating the execution of the following monarch, Charles I. Funny how quickly things change.

Tell me about a holiday that's somewhat unique to your country.

Friday, 3 November 2017

I'm on Instagram!

Ivyclad Ideas is now on Instagram! 

You can find me by searching for ivyclad_ideas, or by clicking on this link.