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Fitchers Brides

by Gregory Frost

Library Journal Swept up in the Rev. Elias Fitcher's apocalyptic predictions, the Charter family moves to upstate New York to await the final days as the gatekeepers of Fitcher's mansion, Harbinger House. When Fitcher chooses Vernelia as his bride, younger sisters Amy and Kate envy her happiness until events hint at a sinister purpose behind Fitcher's marriage and an even darker secret at the heart of Harbinger House. Frost's contribution to the popular "Fairy Tale" series, created and edited by Terry Windling, takes a unique approach to the horrific tale of Bluebeard, setting a seemingly cautionary tale about the dangers of curiosity against the messianic fervor of the mid-19th century. The author of The Pure Cold Light blends dark fantasy and social commentary in an intriguing tale that belongs in most libraries. Highly recommended. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly In the latest addition to the Fairy Tale Series created by Terri Windling, fantasy author Frost (Tain; Lyrec) provides a fresh and highly readable spin on the classic Bluebeard tale, setting his version in New York's Finger Lakes district during the 1830s. Charismatic preacher Elias Fitcher, the Bluebeard figure, has set up a utopian community that prays and works while awaiting the end of the world prophesied for 1843. Into this hotbed of religious fervor comes the Charter family from the nearby town of Jeckyll's Glen. The father and stepmother succumb to Fitcher's mesmerizing preaching, but it is the three daughters-Vernelia, Amy and Catherine-who listen to household spirits and end up, each in turn, marrying Fitcher, then vanishing, except for Catherine, the youngest. In order to survive, Catherine must use her wits and the understanding passed on from her sisters. Exploring such adult themes as lust, masochism and desire, Frost neatly counterbalances the underlying threads of wifely curiosity and disobedience with the growing awareness of true evil in Fitcher, the elements that have made the fairy tale such a timeless story. Some readers may want to save Windling's introduction, which traces the historical legend through its roots in folklore to the narrative of Frenchman Charles Perrault, for last, in order to enjoy the novel for its own sake. Agent, Martha Millard. (Dec. 1) FYI: Windling is the co-editor with Ellen Datlow of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror (Forecasts, July 29). Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book list In this superb retelling of Bluebeard, the bloody essentials remain intact: a wealthy man with a string of former wives, a mysterious key the latest wife is forbidden to use, a room with a lock the key fits into, the young wife's overwhelming curiosity and horrifying discovery, and the dispatching of the wicked husband. The main difference is Frost's chillingly realistic Bluebeard figure. Fitcher is the megalomaniacal, charismatic leader of a religious cult in the early 1800s--a cruel, controlling serial murderer who has seduced hordes with his last-days doctrine, including the stepmother of three beautiful daughters. Her religious fervor leads her to take her family to the Fitcher's secluded haven, where a community of true believers awaits the last day. As soon as he sees them, Fitcher knows he must have all three daughters and stepmother, too. The story proceeds to its bloody end by means of a wonderfully updated plot and intriguing details. Well-researched and extremely well-written, including the fascinating introduction on the origins of the Bluebeard tale. A ripping good read. --Paula Luedtke

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.