I read The Cold Embrace by Mary Braddon in Anthology of Fear: 20 Haunting Stories for Winter Nights (Marshall Cavendish Ltd).
Atmospheric and unexpected…a fantastic Gothic read for Halloween or a cold, dark winter’s night. 4 / 5
A German artist, orphaned at an early age, is raised in his uncle’s household where he forms an attachment to his cousin, Gertrude. They become close and secretly become engaged, only Uncle Wilhelm has high expectations of finding a rich suitor for his daughter…
When the artist is of an age, he travels across Europe undertaking commissions for rich patrons, in the hope of finding fame and fortune. But what of Gertrude? She is quickly forgotten…but her retribution at his betrayal cannot be…
The date seems burnt into her brain.
The date, written in fire, dances forever before her eyes.
The date, shrieked by the Furies, sounds continually in her ears.
(from The Cold Embrace by Mary Elizabeth Braddon)
I read The Cold Embrace as part of my Halloween Reads challenge for 2019.
Mary Braddon is an author I had not read before, prior to undertaking this year’s Halloween Reads. Yet it is clear, as soon as I started reading The Cold Embrace, I had been missing something. This was a great read and I enjoyed the author’s writing style very much.
The Cold Embrace is one of the best Victorian Gothic ghost stories I’ve read. Full of atmosphere and rich in description, once started, I had to read to the end (it isn’t a particularly long read). It had just the right amount of creepiness to it without being gory, which is how I prefer my ghost stories.
There is a sadness to the story that cannot be avoided due to the tragic subject matter, but the author doesn’t dwell too heavily on it. Rather, a clever response, beautifully written, sees the fiancée get her retribution. Although the storyline is predictable, I don’t believe its execution was.
I read a second story by this author for my Halloween Reading challenge, Eveline’s Visitant, so keep an eye out for that forthcoming review. It was another good story 😉
I expect that I will be reading many more stories by Mary Braddon in the future, because I certainly enjoyed this one. It was perfect for the Halloween challenge and equally suited to reading on a cold, dark winter’s night. Recommended!