Olalla

I read a thing! I read another thing so you don’t have to!

I was walking through a bookshop the other day and found a whole series of Victorian novellas and short stories and saw this one called Olalla by Robert Louis Stevenson (the guy who wrote Jekyll and Hyde, Treasure Island, and Kidnapped, among other things). The back of the book talked about how this short story was about decaying aristocracy (which is what I’m doing my PhD on), plus more vampires, madness, and Gothic creepiness than you could shake a stick at. SOLD.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so disappointed in my entire life. It’s like he tried to write a Gothic novel, got all the usual pieces in place, and then just couldn’t commit.

Below is my recap of the book in real time, so any predictions I make on the plot are not spoilers. As usual, I swear. A lot.

Olalla, or I Honestly Think the Sparkle-pires in Twilight are Scarier

The story opens with Doctor Exposition, as I have named him, talking to his patient, Sergeant Conveniently Wounded. Doctor Exposition says that he has cured Sergeant Conveniently Wounded as far as human skill will allow, but what the Sergeant REALLY needs is a lot of fresh air and time to rest.

The Doctor says he just ran into his friend, a Spanish priest, who rather fortuitously discussed his aristocratic but poor Spanish parishioners. They have this beautiful isolated estate up a mountain in Spain, and they are sooooo pooooooor, though majestic and noble.

This first page is our one-stop shopping for Gothicism:
The European continent? Check.
Catholicism? Check.
Isolated mansion or castle? Check.
Stupid, weak English patsy who may or may not become someone’s midnight snack? Check.
YAAAAAAAAAAY, WE’RE IN A GOTHIC NOVEL!

Anyway, Dr. Exposition said to the priest, ‘Hey, I have this weak and tasty English soldier who’s been wounded easy access to blood, like a Capri Sun with the straw already put in and needs some time to relax in the fresh air. I could send him a few miles down the road to a good British beach, but for the sake of the plot, why don’t we send him on a long sea voyage to be the lodger of people he’s never met?

The priest says, “No! These people may be poor, but they’re very proud and would never lower themselves to take in a lodger, even though they probably have 700 rooms and wouldn’t even notice him.”

So the Doctor is all “Whatever, you suck” and the priest is all “Whatever, YOU suck”, and then the priest comes back the next day saying, “Uhhh, I checked in with these people and actually, they’re cool with it.”

BECAUSE THEY ARE VAMPIRES. And I also bet that there will be an evil sexy Spanish lady vampire and a virginal beautiful Spanish lady mortal, and Sergeant Conveniently Wounded will be like, “My penis doesn’t know which way to look first!”, like ANY Gothic novel worth its salt. This is my prediction.

The doctor says [direct quotation] ‘the air of these mountains will renew your blood’ (2) (yeah, FOR FEASTING). Then he says, “What you need more than anything, is fresh air, quiet rest, and peace of mind.”

Soooo, on a scale of zero to zero, what are the chances the Sergeant will get those latter two things?

The Sergeant goes, “Can you tell me a little bit more about the people I’m going to live with? Do they keep late hours? Do they have unseemly table manners? Do they keep, or transform into, any wild pets that I might object to?

The doctor says, “Well, the only thing you really need to know is that they are a very isolated people. They didn’t feel like they could associate with the rich, who are now too high for them, or the poor, who are still too low for them. So they are quite sensitive. When you go there, you will be treated cordially, but you must refrain from forming any sort of friendships or intimacies with them. Remain a stranger to them.”

Because once your food has a name, it gets harder to eat it.

Then Sergeant Conveniently Wounded reveals himself to be Too Stupid To Live, saying, “I will not deny that I was piqued, and perhaps the feeling strengthened my desire to go, for I was confident that I could break down that barrier if I desired . . . There is nothing offensive in such a stipulation . . . and I even sympathize with the feeling that inspired it” (2).

1.) Oh, they’ll break down that barrier. With their TEETH. 2.) Why on earth would their hoity-toitiness make you want to go MORE? Jesus, guy, have some pride.

The Doctor says, “Not only are you the handsomest man in all of England—”

—cue a massive eye roll from me—

“—but you are also the nicest. Here is the cast of characters: there is a mother (evil matriarch?), a son (creepy, inbred little Lord Fauntleroy?), a daughter (sexy she-fangs?), an old woman said be half-witted (eerie fortune-teller prophesier?) and a country girl, who is super religious, which MUST mean that she is ugly as a butt (virginal mortal beauty?). So there won’t be much to interest you there.

Okay, I’m spoilering this slightly. We never, EVER meet the old woman or the country girl. Why even bother to put them in the dramatis personae? Get your shit together, Stevenson.

“The mother is really the only aristocratic one in the bunch. Her father was descended from princely stock, but he went MAAAAD, and she ran wild, and then he died, so she ran WILDER, and then she married a dude (although there is some speculation that maybe she just BANGED A DUDE and there was no marriage at all, gasp!), and he kind of disappeared and I don’t know what happened there, but they had two kids, Felipe and Olalla, who, now that you’ve found out her name is the title of the book, is most DEFINITELY the super-sexy bloodsucker. Like, it’s not even a question at this point. (Oh, past me. Reading this for the first time. Assuming he’s going to follow the rules of Gothicness. That is adorable.)

The Sergeant says, “You know what I love about your plan? Not only how convenient it is, and comfortable it sounds, but also that there is absolutely no chance that anything bad could happen. I accept!”

Then we find out that the doctor and the soldier are ALREADY IN SPAIN, and now things make way more sense, and they really should have hinted at that slightly earlier, since I assumed they were in the UK. Okay, retract my previous snark. Or not. It’s still obnoxious for this wounded guy to be hoisted up and down a mountain to stay with inhospitable people-leeches, when he could go literally anywhere that was just kind of quiet.

Felipe, the vampire son, comes for him the next day with a cart, and they start their long trip to the mansion. Felipe, instead of being the prissy Draco Malfoy/Joffrey Barathon I had been picturing, is actually a sturdy, dumb, country bumpkin teenager who won’t shut the fuck up. I think he might be a few cabbages short of an allotment.

And the Sergeant (who isn’t really a Sergeant, but I don’t know his name or rank, so just deal with it), is trying to enjoy his peace and quiet. The kid is blathering on, like “I SAW A CROW ONCE”, and the Sergeant just nods blanking going, “Uh huh, wow, great, kiddo.”

Then, out of nowhere, the Sergeant is like, “Wow, this kid is really good looking, and he’s all lithe, and has big yellow eyes. He’s super hot, except for the fact that he is dark and inclined to hairiness, which I hate.”

IS HE A WEREWOLF

TELL ME HE IS A WEREWOLF

WE ARE ONLY 5 PAGES IN AND THERE IS AN AWFUL LOT OF GOTH THAT IS GOTHING.

So they cross a river in a cart, and Felipe turns pale. The Sergeant goes, “What’s the matter?” Felipe says, “I’m scared!” And the Sergeant says, “Why? This looks like a perfectly safe place.” And Felipe says, “SCARED BECAUSE RIVERS MAKE NOISE.”

And the Sergeant listens to the flowing river, going, “Erm . . . yeah . . . they do. Listen, baby, you’re a great looker, but why don’t you just keep your mouth shut for a while, huh? You’re better seen and not heard.” Seriously, this kid is as dumb as a box of hair.

They finally get to the mansion and Felipe takes the Sergeant to his room, where it’s all luxurious and full of animal pelts and roaring fires and shit. But then Felipe gets all weird, going over to the Sergeant’s bed, rubbing the sheets all over his face, saying that the fire ‘melts out the pleasure in your bones’ (8).

Is this going to turn into a werewolf/vampire orgy down the road? Maybe. Felipe certainly seems up for a little sump’in sump’in. But not tonight. No, tonight the Sergeant thinks you’re gross, Felipe. The Sergeant pours himself a glass of wine from the dinner laid out and says, “Oy, Felipe, come drink this!

Felipe starts up, all hopeful, but then sees the wine and goes, “Nyawwwww!” and I just realized that this could work on two different (probably intentional) levels, and also, I guess Felipe is a vampire, not a werewolf. He throws a hissy fit and goes, “Yucky! Wine is for you, not for me!

Good, because the Sergeant is going to need all the wine he can get in this place.

Actually—genius idea: if vampires apparently dislike booze, why don’t you just maintain a blood alcohol level of somewhere around the Falstaff level and then be impervious to vampires AND have a good time?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. In Victorian literature, when in doubt: booze.

The Sergeant goes, “Am I going to meet your mother tonight? It would be nice for me to thank her for letting me stay here.” Felipe gets all shifty and slowly backs away from the Sergeant. When he reaches the door, he just goes, “No,”, and finally exits stage awkward.

The Sergeant looks around his room and sees a picture of a hot redhead with resting bitchface, dressed in clothes from centuries past. She reminds him of Felipe. Gee. What are the chances it’s Felipe’s vamp-tastic undead mother or sister? Subtle, Stevenson. Except for all the ways in which it is not.

The Sergeant does his own thing for several days, but he becomes obsessed with the painting of the woman, slowly falling head-over-penis in love with her. He goes on and on about how thankful he is that she MUST be dead, because otherwise she would lead to his destruction, and she makes him aware of his own weaknesses, blah blah, foreshadowing, blah.

Felipe serves the Sergeant in his apartment, bringing him food and hanging out and singing to him, and the Sergeant keeps getting a raging erection every time he looks at the painting, but then gets really confused because Felipe looks like the painting, and it’s twice as bad, because Felipe occasionally caresses the Sergeant, and it is ALLLL kinds of homoerotic up in this hizzy.

The Sergeant hasn’t seen anyone but Felipe in all the time he’s been there, even from the windows. It appears that Felipe does most of the work around the house, because the Sergeant sees him gardening all day, and sometimes when he’s done gardening at night, he just throws down his spade and goes, “This is an appropriate place to sleep. This watermelon will be my body-pillow!” and falls asleep in the dirt.

The Sergeant goes, “Well, if you love nature so much, let’s go for a long walk in the woods.” And they have a charming day frolicking around, and Felipe swings from the trees like an orangutan, and it’s all wonderfully bucolic, until, for no reason at all, Felipe decides to start torturing a squirrel.

The Sergeant snatches the squirrel out of Felipe’s hands, mercy-kills it with a rock, and starts yelling at him because their beautiful day has been shot to shit. Yeah, poorly-timed squirrel torture does tend to bring the mood down.

YOU ARE WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS, FELIPE.

Felipe grovels before the Sergeant and swears he’ll never torture another woodland creature again, unless they’re reaaaaaaally asking for it. The Sergeant is appeased.

Eventually the Sergeant runs into the mother and introduces himself. He is struck by how much she looks like the painting in the room, except stouter and without the resting bitchface. Yep. The painting is Olalla. The mother seems okay. She does nothing but sit in the sun and brush her hair. All day. All week. All month.

The Sergeant just leaves her to it, apart from exchanging formal and pleasant hellos every day. He starts to work out that the mother and Felipe hate each other, but doesn’t know why [guys, we never find this out]. Then, one day, for no reason, she caresses his hand, and he’s like, “The hell?” This family is really into inappropriate touching. He looks at her, but she is already blank-faced and has gone back to hair brushing, and he goes, “Well, alright, then.”

Guy. Your health is back. Go home now, mmkay? This place is getting weird.

One day this massive windstorm hits the mountain, and it puts everyone in a funk. He goes to bed and wakes up to the sound of cries and screams in the manor. He thinks, “So help me, god, if Felipe is torturing another squirrel again . . .” But I guess we’ll never know, since someone thoughtfully decided to lock his door from the outside.

The next day, everything is back to normal and the Sergeant decides to Nancy Drew this shit and explore the creepy house alone. Keep in mind that Nancy always got captured at some point by the villain for poking around where she shouldn’t, and put into some sort of elaborate death scenario that she inevitably escapes from. I haven’t decided if this is that type of book yet, or not.

The Sergeant pokes his head around all the doors in the house and these rooms are GROSS. They’re filled with spiders, ‘bloated tarantulas’ (24), and flies. They’re also filled with endless portraits of the family over generations, and in no way are these two things connected by metaphor. Nope.

He finally comes across a room that’s clearly lived in, only it’s a very severe room with no decorations or comforts of any kind. On the desk he finds a sadomasochistic poem about pleasure and pain written to Jesus. So . . . clearly a priest lives here. Because clichés. But, nope, the Sergeant assumes that the daughter lives there and feels really guilty about invading her privacy. For reasons unclear to me, he starts worshipping the daughter as a sort of saint, and doesn’t understand how such a decadent mother and violent brother could produce such an angel of purity.

Eat him, Olalla. Come out of the woodwork as some glorious succubus and nom his ass.

Then the priest comes for a visit and the Sergeant is like, “I heard creepy noises in the night. Scream-y, murder-y noises.” And the priest says, “You’re a guest. Mind your own beeswax.” This, for reasons unclear, COMPLETELY SATISFIES the Sergeant, who lays his curiosity to rest and is ashamed at his lack of delicacy in trying to snoop out who this private family might be murdering. RUDE.

His total and complete satisfaction lasts, quite literally, one sentence. He goes to Felipe and says,“What was that murder noise I heard last night?”

“THE WIND, IT WAS THE WIND, I HAVE TO GO NOW.”

He goes for a walk around the house again and runs into Olalla in the hallway. They don’t exchange a word. She just kind of looks at him with her gem-colored eyes (ick), and that gaze he considers ‘sacramental, and the wedding of souls’ (30). Easy, there, Jacob Black. Imprinting on someone from a different supernatural creature race than you is never a good idea.

After they run into each other, he just sits in his room, looking at that portrait of what is clearly her, and pining. “Oh, Olalla, remember that time we met in the hallway? And our eyes met? And then I practically ran away because I’ve never felt the feels like that before? God, we have such great memories together. How can I live without you? We MUST marry.”

So despite how creepy he thinks Felipe is, and how disgustingly sensual the mother is, he sets out to charm the pants off them so they’ll let him marry Olalla. Meanwhile, days go by and he doesn’t see Olalla again, but he feels like he knows her because he read one of her creepy poems and saw what kind of stuff she had in her room, which was really ‘no stuff at all’.

While walking out in the woods, they run into each other again, finally, and she says her first words to him, which are “You will go away. Today”. I don’t know if that’s a prediction or a command, but he instantly turns into a teenage boy and goes:
OMGILOVEYOUFOREVER
PLEASEBEMYWIFE
IWILLFORSWEARMYCOUNTRYANDFRIENDSTOBEWITHYOU
Seriously, he goes on, in his first ever sentence with this girl, about the miracle of love and the ‘divine fitness’ of their souls (38), and I’m like, “TOO INTENSE. Shut it down, Olalla. Shut it down.”

So after his big confession, she just says again, “You will go today.

His reaction to this is to hold out his arms to her, and she jumps on him like some sort of leaping salmon, and I think their embrace causes a mini-earthquake or something (honestly), and then she just runs away. As you do.

He yells at the mountains for a while. Then he goes home. This was the part of the story where I started laughing hysterically. He just shouts at some mountains.

He goes back to his bedroom and discovers that Olalla has somehow made it back there before he did (VAMPIRES RUN REALLY FAST–or maybe all of that ‘screaming at mountains’ thing really cut into his schedule). She left him a message, weirdly written in the third person, saying “If you have any kindness for Olalla, if you have any chivalry for a creature sorely wrought, go from here today; in pity, in honour, for the sake of Him who died, I supplicate that you shall go.” (40).

Even though she already told him about 5 minutes ago, in person, that he needed to leave their house, this letter really upsets him, like it’s completely new news or something. He does the only reasonable thing, which is to punch through the window. So with his wrist severely bleeding, he decides to go find Olalla again and ask her about the letter and maybe to see if she can provide some medical attention. Nothing changes a lady’s mind about romance quite like showing up drenched in blood.

Especially if she’s a vampire.

He can’t find Olalla or Felipe. He can only find the mother, who is STILL sunbathing, days later, and very likely has skin cancer by now. She instantly perks up and goes, “Oh, what, huh, BLOOD?” and clamps her mouth on his wrist, biting him to the bone.

It’s all fun and games until someone gets cannibalized by their mother-in-law.

He starts beating the crap out of her, which is reasonable in this particular situation, and recognizes her cries as the cries he heard that night he was locked in his room. So . . . she was the one torturing someone? Or being tortured? Or just screaming for fun? Or in an episode of madness? WE NEVER FIND OUT.

Out of nowhere, Olalla and Felipe come by and separate them. He swoons and Olalla carries him up to bed all by herself, because she is a terse she-warrior and I think I love her. She locks the door behind them. He’s either going to get nommed, or sexed. Maybe both. Please let it be both.

[Actually, this is a fun reversal of the usual swooning damsel/vampire trope. And everyone knows how rife with sexual imagery THAT is.]

Aww, man, it looks like she’s just going to care for him. Lame.

She binds up his wounds and . . . coos over his hand, like a giant pigeon. Huh. They listen to her mother scream and tussle downstairs with Felipe for a while, and apparently listening to a vampire duel is the only thing in the world that could kill the Sergeant’s love for Olalla. He’s just sitting there, looking at her, going, “Wow, you’re still super hot, but . . . I’m good.”

Attaboy.

But then he and Olalla—I shit you not—just look at each other for the next SIX HOURS. They just look. Sitting in silence. Until dark.

I don’t know about you guys, but I would be demanding some answers from my hosts, if someone bit my wrist to the bone. At the very least, I’d be fashioning a rudimentary knife with which to defend myself. How did you EVER survive whatever combat you were in? Did the enemy take one look at you and let you live out of pity? NO PITY FROM ME, SERGEANT. I’D STRANGLE YOU WITH MY BARE HANDS.

Then, for no apparent reason, he decides he loves Olalla again.

He is KILLING me with his whims (killing me softly) (with hiiiis whims).

I hope she murders his ass reaaaaaal gooood.

She finally starts talking, because SOMEONE HAS TO, and says, “Why didn’t you leave seven hours ago when I ambiguously said you should, but gave you absolutely zero incentive to do so? You had a WHOLE HOUR before this shit went down. Why didn’t you pack and make complex travel arrangements and get out of here, even though you were clearly in love with me and wanted to pursue the relationship and I told you nothing about my freaky family? WHY?”

Every time she pauses for breath, he just dumbly said, “I love you.” He loves her so hard that it’s lowered his IQ, I guess.

“Why don’t you leave NOW?” she said.

And I’m thinking, “Erm . .. because you two decided to sit in total silence for six hours and now it’s nighttime and he’s severely wounded with no mode of transportation down a mountain? Maybe that’s why he doesn’t leave now?”

Instead of saying any of this, he just talks about how he loves her for her body.

She ambiguously refers to the portrait on the wall, and could be confessing that it’s her, or perhaps could just be confessing that she’s SUPER inbred and it just looks like her. I’m not sure. Then she says, “My ancestors from 800 years ago were the leaders of this place and they did evil things, and we can never be together because I’ll have to turn you into a vampire.”

Only she doesn’t say that she’s going to have to turn him into a vampire. She speaks in really veiled language about him going out in the world and not becoming one of them, whether that means a crazy aristocratic Spaniard or a vampire or what.

ARE YOU PEOPLE VAMPIRES OR NOT

GODDAMN IT, STEVENSON

ARE YOU TRYING TO DO A TURN OF THE SCREW THING WHERE WE DON’T KNOW IF SOMETHING SUPERNATURAL IS GOING ON OR IF PEOPLE JUST BE CRAY?? (I know Turn of the Screw wasn’t even written yet, shut up).

Then she says, “Felipe is going to escort you down the mountain now. Go from this place.” So . . .wait. She waited 6 hours, until it was nighttime, to send this bleeding, vulnerable man down a mountain, with only her brother, the simpleton squirrel-torturer, to guide him? No way this could end badly! The entire history of Gothic literature points to some horrible mountainside tussel, and at this point, I hope Felipe wins.

But nothing happens. Let’s just ignore any potential tension or foreshadowing, shall we? Everything turns out just fucking TICKETY-BOO for the Sergeant. Felipe takes him to the priest, where it’s safe and he can recover. Now, why he couldn’t have gone to stay with the priest in the first place when the doctor was trying to find him somewhere to recover, I’m sure I don’t know.

The Sergeant asks the priest, “Dafuq happened in that house?”, which is really the question he should have asked Olalla during their six hours of silence together. The priest just says that the family has been ‘neglected’ (49), whatever that means (I think he’s implying that they’re inbred and isolated and have therefore gone a little mad since they don’t know how to act like people anymore). The Sergeant asks if the mother is ‘odd’, which is the understatement of the century. The priest says, “Yep. She’s odd.” And the Sergeant goes, “Can you give me a BIT more information? I had kind of a traumatic day yesterday and my curiosity is finally kicking in.”

The priest says, “I’m going to be really frank with you,” but then precedes to be anything BUT frank with him, and just spouts some mumbo jumbo about how God works in mysterious ways. The Sergeant goes, “Just tell me this: is the mother crazy?”

The priest says no, but that there might be a strain of insanity that has run in the family. Ah, the famous gothic ‘latent insanity’ trope. Laaaaaaaazy . . .

The Sergeant asks the thing that’s really important to him, which is: “Yes, but does my one-day baby-mama, Olalla, have the same strain of crazy? Because I don’t think I’d be into that.” The priest says, “God, no! Olalla is nothing like her mother. And you can trust me. Because I’m a medical professional. A dangerously unqualified one.”

The Sergeant spills the beans about falling in love with Olalla and the priest says the wisest thing in the book so far, which is, “The hell are you telling me for? I have no authority over Olalla, except for religious guidance. Why don’t you present this to her and do whatever she says?” The Sergeant goes, “Deal!”

Except for two things: 1.) you’ve already told Olalla, and, I hate to tell you buddy, but she’s just not that into you. And 2.) all the local townsfolk avoid him and refuse to lead him back up the mountain because he has latent vampirism percolating in his veins or something, probably.

Latent Vampirism Percolating would be an amazing name for a goth ska band.

With no one to take him up the mountain, he reverts to doing what he does best: uselessness and voyeurism. He sits in the town and just looks up the mountain, pining for the manor house.

Awww, don’t worry, buddy. You’ll be able to turn into a bat soon. Or summon the children of the night to carry you up the mountain.

One day a stranger comes to the village and, not knowing the Sergeant’s history, says, “Oh, I’ve been through this place before. See that house you’re Rear-Windowing? Well, my buddy sold his soul to Satan there, once. Good times. He’s in Hell now.” The Sergeant can’t even think of anything to say to this, and the guy goes on and basically says (although not explicitly) that they’re vampires. The stranger says that in the good ole days of the Inquisition, they would have tortured and executed the SHIT out of them up thar on that mountain. But even the local priest is bewitched by them and won’t do ANY torturing. Typical of these soft, weak times we live in.

“Thankfully,” the stranger adds, “the local people are getting wise to the weird stuff that happens up there and we’re totally going to burn their house down over their heads one day.”

The Sergeant’s first thought is, “Should I run and warn the priest, or just go right to the family and warn them directly?” Question: if you couldn’t figure out how to get up there for the last few days, how are you going to warn them?

Thankfully, he doesn’t have to decide or come up with a plan, since Olalla magically appears, wearing a disguise and driving a cart through the town. Deus Ex Olalla. He sees through her disguise and walks up to her. She says, “WHY HAVEN’T YOU LEFT YET?”

Yeah, Sergeant. Unlike the rest of us, you have a way of escaping this mind-numbing nonsense.

And he says, “Erm, did you forget the part where I was maimed and fainted about 3 times?” And she says, “Well, since you moon about looking at our house all day, everyone in town has figured out that you love me and it’s making everything really dangerous for both you and for my family. Go the goddamned hell away from here.”

He asks her to come with him. Her response is to kneel down in the dirt and start praying. He pervs on her for a while, thinking how hot she is, but then keeps looking at the crucifix, thinking how gross Jesus is.

She finally says, “Listen, Jesus is my BFF. I’m going to stay here and chill out with him. Forever.”

The Sergeant says, “Okay” and leaves.

THE END

My issues: LET ME TELL YOU THEM

1.) Stevenson is excellent at setting up a Gothic premise, but terrible at following through on it. He puts in all this foreshadowing and early tension, and then either forgets about the things he’s set up, rushes through it so things come out of nowhere, or lets it slowly fizzle out, so all the tension is lost.

2.) This really needed to be either half the length, or twice the length. It’s an awkward length now where, as I said, he had ample space to set things up but not the space to do justice to any of it.

3.) The Sergeant is a goon with no personality whatsoever. It’s hard to care for someone when they are a black hole where charm goes to DIE.

4.) Stevenson was, as I referenced above, trying to be ambiguous about what was happening in this story, much in the way that Henry James successfully did in Turn of the Screw (if any of you don’t know that story, it’s about a governess in a creepy isolated house, and she’s either being haunted by two ghosts or has gone completely crazy, and we never really know for sure, and it’s AMAZING). However, with Olalla, we were given way too much “these people are not right and there’s probably something supernatural happening” in the beginning, but not enough to sustain that during the course of the book. By the end, it wasn’t really ambiguous any more–I just figured, “Okay, the mother is just crazy. Everything can be explained by that, and you can no longer really support the whole supernatural thing at all.”

5.) This was sloppily written. There are plot holes or gaps in logic that you could drive a train through. I’m still not entirely clear why he had to go to this particular house in the first place. Spain DOES have hotels, you know.

In short, I give this story a C- for effort.

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