Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Snow Shadow

Snow Shadow by Andre Norton
published by Fawcett Crest Books
Copyright 1979

Being able to step back into the past
seemed a wonderful stroke of luck for Erica
Jansen. Northanger Abbey was like another
world. And her introduction to the family
there had come from a charming man,
Preston Donner. She felt very fortunate indeed.


But from the moment she became a guest
at the Abbey, she felt like a prisoner. First
there were the arguments she couldn't
avoid ... then the murders she could not
ignore ... and then the man who stepped out
of her own buried past to entwine her in a
terror from which she saw no escape ...

We have all met them. You know, those girl who, in a desperate attempt to feel better about themselves, cut down on those around them. Well, Andre Norton is one of those women. But don't worry, if I have learned nothing else in my very eventful life thus far, I have learned that what you send out comes back three fold. (Well, technically, I just learned that from 1996's The Craft but you get the picture.)

Snow Shadow is one of those rare Gothic romance books in which I picked up and read a few pages before posting it. And boy and I glad I did.

There is no doubt that Ms. Norton felt a good deal of shame about lowering herself to Gothic romance. It becomes quite obvious by the many comments of her heroine such as, and this isn't technically an EXACT quote, "If I had been a lame Gothic novelist I would have called the house brooding."

Now, that is unfair in a couple of ways. Firstly, it subtly insults the genre in which she is writing, thus giving the illusion of somehow being superior to it. And secondly, it gets away with using the adjective just belittled without even offering up a better one.

You've got to admit, it's pretty ballsy. Especially for someone who has taken the ultimate shortcut of writing about someone who is a writer and who also breaks the cardinal rule of never mentioning a better book (or author) in your book. Of course, we see that all the time. If we all had a dime for every haunted house story that quotes Shirley Jackson, we'd all be eating a chalupa right now. Her author of choice, Jane Austen. Again, pretty ballsy.

I also discovered that the male charactor who I suspect will turn out to be the romantic interests is the first Blackfoot Indiana to graduate from West Point. WOW! Louis L'Amour's got nothing on Andre Norton.

Oh yeah, and I almost forgot, I have a signature here but I am having a bit of a problem reading it. Any guesses?

UPDATE: If my research is to be believed, Andre Norton's three fold karma payback included being the first woman to win the Gandalf Grand Master Award from the World Science Fiction Society in 1977, and the winning of the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award in 1983. Huh, karma doesn't seem to function as I have been lead to believe.


  1. "then the murders she could not

    pesky murders.

  2. Did you ever hear about a Gothic romance paperback cover that depicted a castle that a woman was running from, but it didn't have a single light on? I heard it sold miserably and afterward publishers made sure all houses/castles depicted had a light on. Probably an apocryphal story, but still.

  3. PJ: I think if she can't ignore the murders, she is just not trying hard enough!

    Will: I like to think they did complete product testing on the covers. Light on, light off. Running from a house, running toward a house. Perhaps even fleeing in a speeding taxi.

  4. Love your blog! I found it through a link on things magazine.

  5. Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein: Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Sorry this comment is on an old entry, but I just found the blog and love it.

    Andre Norton was one of the oldest and most prolific science fiction and fantasy writers out there. She started writing in the thirties and wrote hundreds of books by the time she died several years ago. She is a wonderful writer, but unfortunately she was plagued by writing many books at a time when book covers where fabulously silly and generally didn't have much to do with the contents.

    Anyway, thanks for reading (or not).