The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A story with the potential to reel the readers in, but did not exactly hit the mark. I have very little knowledge of 'The Hunchback of Notre-Dame' although I am well aware of the named author, Victor Hugo. There is no doubt in my mind that he is a talented and prolific writer. He uses his words as a paintbrush, describing the city like a bird that soars through the air to take in its surroundings. He does not write in a poetic way, but he does describe the scenery with such descriptiveness that the reader feels like they are in the hollowed gloom of Notre Dame.
The story centers around a few characters, each with their own designs in life and want to make the most of their opportunities in France. The focal point is the looming tower of Notre Dame, its figure head emits throughout the city like a God high up in the sky. In the dark dwelling of its hollowed abyss is a decrepit, limping monster-like creature named "Quasimodo." he is known as one of the central characters, the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
The origins of his Quasimodo comes in little snippets throughout the novel, making him a mystery to both the characters of the book and the readers alike. I came into the novel with a clear expectation that he would be the central character, but I was terribly wrong. Over time the readers becomes acquainted with other members of the Cathedral, both the glorious noble and the helpless fallen. I had taken an interest in the Priest, the Archdeacon Claude Frollo, mostly because he appeared to be a haunted man, torn between his loyalty to the church and his desire to learn more of the sciences. His secret dabbling in alchemy and possibly sorcery adds a certain element of Gothic notary that is prevalent in this genre.
The person that stole the show is a young woman, a Bohemian Gypsy, which naturally steals the heart of many characters in the film. Her name is Esmeralda. She takes on the stereotypical characteristics of that time period for "Gypsies." She is young, beautiful, enchanting and feared by God-fearing men. She is like a ray of starlight, dancing effortlessly in the street, which unfortunately spells disaster for her in the end.
I confess that I spent a good portion of this novel skimming through the pages. Reading the full-length novel on an e-book was a mistake, and it is one that I would not recommend to others. The author has a talent of creating memorable characters, but the long-extended descriptiveness of the city streets, the history of the cathedral and the features of the poverty-stricken people lost my interest. I found most of my attention was fixated on Esmeralda and her devoted goat. To me it screamed witchcraft, so I was not surprised when others whispered those very words in the dark alleyways of Paris.
I can comprehend the reasoning for this novel to be listed as Gothic romance. It is dark to be sure, it has elements of the supernatural, the grotesque, and the disfiguration of the soul of man. I suppose most readers would have imagined that it is the most blackhearted villain would be the Hunchback of Notre Dame, but they are terribly wrong. Beauty is held in the eye of the beholder, and in the case of this novel it is especially true. Although I did not finish the book in its entirety, I can understand the reason it is proclaimed as a masterful piece. The author does have a natural art of drawing the reader in, but for myself, I found it burdensome to read and at long last I gave up on the adventure.
For those readers that enjoy a good dark tale with seedy characters scuttling down dark alleyways and tightly enclosed abbey's then this is the book for you. If you love anything involving "Gypsies" or a great grizzly tale of love and despair, I can assure you that this is the ideal novel for you. As to my parting words, if I want to read a book about a "Holy man" losing his sanity over a beautiful woman that he can never be with because of his sacred vows to the Church, I would rather read the deliciously sinful and exceptionally Gothic horror story 'The Monk' by Matthew Gregory Lewis.
I will leave this book review with my favourite quote from this book, coming from none other but the deeply despaired and undeniably lusty Priest. The prisoner recoiled with horror. “Oh!” said the priest, “young girl, have pity upon me! You think yourself unhappy; alas! alas! you know not what unhappiness is. Oh! to love a woman! to be a priest!"
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A huge congratulations to the two winners for this month's giveaway. Supremely happy to be giving away two signed copies of 'The Tragic Tale of Teddy Woven." If you would like to take part in the next giveaway, make sure to follow me on this site or Instagram under the username @petergray_writer
Huge announcement! My two paranormal romance books 'Cursed' and 'Far from Home: Book One' are now featured on the popular website, Webnovel.
Thank you to that special reader that recommended me to post my novel on Webnovel, and putting me into contact with the amazing staff members that have been so exceptionally supportive throughout this process.
If you are a member of Webnovel, please check out my books online and be sure to rate it.
There is lots more still to come, so keep an eye out on my social media or follow me on the Webnovel site.
Happy reading everyone!
For anyone that has been following my blog for a while now, you know that there are films that have inspired my published novels so far. To mention a familiar few classic Gothic horror films: Dragonwyck (1949), House of Usher (1960) and Rebecca (1940). These film tend to fall into the same genre, but there are others that have indirectly inspired my writing because of the characters or the nature of the themes. This is especially true for some upcoming novels that are still in the works, so without further ado, here are three films that have inspired me to write. Enjoy the sneak peak!
1. The Dead Poet Society (1989)
As a lover of education and the teaching profession as a whole, it was only a matter of time until I dipped my pen to write a romance story focused on this theme. My upcoming novel 'At Peace' centers around the protagonist, Edith Keats. It is a coming of age story as Edith passes through her final years of schooling at a boarding school specifically designed for girls. The story is important to me because I wanted a story to focus on the love of literature, more importantly, the impact it can have upon on a person. Edith Keats is someone that genuinely loves literature, and this adoration allows her to come under the protective wing of a mentor and inevitably friend, Mr. Hatton, the headmaster of the English literature department. Their genuine love of all things literature allows them to form a strong bond with one another, but growing rumours involving a potential scandal and the major threat to Mr. Hatton's profession forces their friendship to come to an abrupt ending. Heartbroken by the sudden severing of her friendship with her mentor and teacher, it makes Edith wonder if she will ever find peace in this world. To make matters worse, right before she departs the boarding school forever she comes to dreadful realization that their friendship has kindled to something more, and her heavy heart is unable to cope with the fact that it could never be.
For those of you that watched 'Dead Poet's Society' you might see a resemblance to a name. The main character that stole the show is an English teacher, Mr. John Keating, that inspired his students to learn to think for themselves. He made the arts of English literature boldly come alive for his students and inspired them to create a secret club called "The Dead Poet's Society." I have watched this film countless times, as a matter of fact it inspired me to become a teacher.
When I wrote 'At Peace' it was with a clear intent to not make the relationship between Mr. Hatton and his pupil, Edith, become inappropriate. The aim of this novel is to showcase that sometimes students do need a mentor in their life aside from their parents, and it can come in all forms including a teacher. Rest assure, that their relationship is strictly professional. Edith does develops romantic feelings for her teacher overtime, however, it is a result of a bond so strong that it feels as though they are soul mates- they are so similar and yet different that it puzzles her exceedingly. 'At Peace' is a heart-wrenching romance tale, it is a story that follows Edith Keats throughout her youth into her early years of her adulthood where she must venture out into the world alone with the many lessons she has learned from her mentor and friend, Mr. Hatton.
2. Eragon (2006)
Very few people know that I have been working on a fantasy novel for several years. It is still unfinished, but I believe I can finish the entire story by the end of the year. The story is so long that I have no choice but to divide it into two books, and the first one should debut on the popular website WebNovel in the near future. This secret fantasy story that I have been working on is called 'Destiny' and it is about a young woman, Evelyn Keyes, that is faced with the dangers of a prophecy surrounding her to end the brutal decimation of magic upon the land. As a child, Evelyn had to run away from her local village once rumours surrounded her family about her mother being a witch. A lie that forced them to flee home in the dead of night, and take refuge in an abandoned forest for most of her life. Now an orphan without a friend in the world she comes across a stranger, a man with magic and a prophetic warning of the great future that awaits her.
I first read the novel series 'Eragon' in my early high school years. I can still remember taking it out of my local library and reading it on the bus ride home. I was never a fan of the genre, but I believe it was the front cover that really drew me in. I frantically read the entire series within a year and I had the good fortune to watch the film shortly after it came out in theatres. Admittedly, it veered far from the book premises (much to my horror) but it still retained the lightheartedness when it came to magic and dragons. This movie and the BBC television show 'Merlin' (2008) inspired me to sit down and write a fantasy novel that was dark, filled with tension, and a plot-line where the main character anxiously fears the hands of destiny that bound her to two men that will play a role in the future of their kingdom.
I am still in the early stages of working with the editors from WebNovel to debut this story, but once the contract is finalized I can provide you with some more news.
3. Dracula Untold (2014)
When working on the final adaption of the dark fantasy novel 'Far from Home: Book Three' I had this film in mind. In the third instalment, Aodhan McVeigh is on a quest to reclaim his lost lover. Time and distance has separated them, but his love for Victoria remains the same. He will go through heaven or hell to reclaim her, and will stop at nothing to get his way.
The love story between Count Dracula and Minera in the film 'Dracula Untold' really spoke to me. It inspired me to write a story that dealt with the theme of "this lifetime and the next." I wanted to show that love can cross all boundaries, even ones that lie beyond the grave. Aodhan is tragically and rather suddenly separated from his lover. Just like in the film 'Dracula Untold' it is up to the main character, Aodhan, to find a way to be rejoined with his wife.
I believe that the final adaption is a very dark love story about love knowing no bounds, and the manner of a soul being desperate to cling to another. Their is an unholy bond between Aodhan and Victoria, brought on through the shared transfer of their blood and their ability to walk the earth as vampires. Their lives are in jeopardy, however, and as the centuries pass away, it is Aodhan that finds himself in awkward predicament where he must blend into society to avoid the detection of the police and the mass media that is determined to uncover the serial killer stalking the London streets at night. While avoiding the detection of others, he is also on a quest to be rejoined with his past lover that has haunted his mind and heart for ages.