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Elizabeth (1976)

by Ken Greenhall

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834258,525 (3.91)13
The image in the mirror of fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Cuttner is that of the fey and long-dead Frances, who introduces Elizabeth to her chilling world of the supernatural. Through Frances, Elizabeth learns what it is to wield power - power of a kind that is malevolent and seemingly invincible. Power that begins with the killing of her parents...… (more)
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    The Other by Thomas Tryon (sturlington)
    sturlington: Campy horror from the 1970s featuring scary teens!
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Showing 4 of 4
The story of the depraved, wealthy family of Cuttners, as told by their most twisted member, fourteen year-old Elizabeth, who instigates most of the craziness. In the first chapter she tells the reader that she's living at her grandmother's because she's killed her parents. In the second chapter she tells the reader that her uncle is her lover. There's a long list of personality disorders with Elizabeth and Uncle James, but it's impossible to guess what's going to happen next as Elizabeth is getting instructions from Frances, the 400 year old witch in the mirror.
Take The Bad Seed and mix it with Lolita, then add in the urban legend of Bloody Mary. This book is called a "forgotten classic". It should be as well-known as The Bad Seed as the writing is just as good and the story as scary. The bizarre atmosphere the Cuttners live in shadows everything they do. ( )
  mstrust | May 16, 2021 |
NEVER have I been so unsettled reading a book narrated by a 14 year old girl. But perhaps that is because Elizabeth is not your ordinary teenager. She's descended from a long line of witches and is now discovering the power within her. Or is she? You'll have to read this to find out!

The prose in this book is simply outstanding. It's chilling at times because the narrator seems to have no feelings whatsoever. She talks about sex, acts of violence, and eating breakfast all in the same tone. Sometimes I would need to read a sentence or paragraph over again to be sure that I read it correctly.

Then, there's the sex. It's not graphic at all, there are no mentions of sex organs or the mechanics of the act itself...it's just there. Perhaps that is why it never bothered me, as sex between a 14 year old girl and adults should. Then again, perhaps it is because Elizabeth herself never expresses any feeling about it, she only mentions it as a...tool, (please forgive the half-hearted pun), to get what she wants.

The entire time I was reading, I was wondering if Elizabeth, indeed, possessed supernatural powers. Was everything going on simply a matter of coincidence and her overactive imagination? Or were these things actually happening because of her actions? (In this regard, Elizabeth reminds me of one of my favorite books, THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR by Anne Rivers Siddons.) It was the masterful writing of Mr. Greenhall that had me turning this fact over and over again in my mind. I know what conclusion I came to, I'm interested in yours!

This novel reminds me of why I became a horror fan in the first place, it wasn't the gore or the blood, (though those DO have their place and I love them too), it's human nature and what people can be capable of, underneath their ordinary facades. These days we have tons of books and TV shows about sociopaths/psychopaths/personality disorders-all of which are trying to explain things to us. Mr. Greenhall wrote this back in the day,(the 1970's), before FBI profiling and Criminal Minds. Even without all of those studies and the psychiatric manuals, he had this criminal profile down PAT.

Is Elizabeth continuing on her family's tradition of witchcraft, or is she another type of animal altogether? I HIGHLY recommend you read this book, and then come talk to me. We'll discuss it together!

*Thank you to the most awesome Valancourt Books for the free review copy in exchange for my honest review. This is it!*
**Further thanks to Valancourt for bringing back these horror gems that may otherwise have been entirely forgotten. Bravo, guys! Bravo!**
( )
  Charrlygirl | Mar 22, 2020 |
About two years ago, I discovered Valancourt Books, which reissues out-of-print horror, generally from the 1970s and early 1980s, in really attractive slim trade paperbacks. My latest read from them was Elizabeth by Ken Greenhall (originally published under the pseudonym Jessica Hamilton). What a disturbing little book about a 14-year-girl who seems to be a complete sociopath and also thinks she's a witch. ( )
  sturlington | Jan 12, 2019 |
Elizabeth Cuttner is the narrator in this somewhat disturbing and twisted tale of a 14 year old who has a story to tell. Through a mirror in her room she is influenced by Frances a long dead relative and participant in the medieval practice of witchcraft. This unhealthy partnership unveils a side of Elizabeth that is totally at odds with the quietly spoken and articulate young lady presented to the reader. As the novel unfolds we learn of the tragic death of her parents, the disappearance of her grandmother, and the somewhat unhealthy relationship she enjoys with her uncle James. What is so striking about the author's narrative is the way he is able to capture and portray Elizabeth who although appears innocent is often controlling and manipulative in a very precise and distasteful way.

The writing of Ken Greenhall is sublime; this is horror that is quietly spoken leaving acts of unpleasantness to the creative mind of the reader...."We pretended that our appetites could be satisfied with toast and cereal."......"He was the only person I knew who didn't bathe very often. I admired him."....."Her hands glittered with oil, and she was carefully lining up the little headless bodies on dark bread. She raised a finger to her mouth and slowly licked it."...."I think it was his discomfort with me that first made me aware of the power that comes with womanhood."...."what did he think when I walked at this side and took his arm so that I could brush it against my breast.".....

The works of Ken Greenhall have been brought alive once again under the guidance of the wonderful Valancourt books who are helping us rediscover rare, neglected and out of print fiction. Many thanks to them for sending me this gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written. At times both shocking and eloquent Elizabeth is a wonderful and entertaining novel. ( )
  runner56 | Jan 16, 2018 |
Showing 4 of 4
I really cannot recommend Elizabeth highly enough, the debut novel from Ken Greenhall, writing under the pseudonym Jessica Hamilton. This unheralded, forgotten work deserves rediscovery by fans of weird fiction. If you enjoy the literary chill of calculating children, the frosty tales of du Maurier and Jackson, the quiet horrors of witchery and those it dooms, the foolishness of men in the thrall of women, do yourself a favor and become acquainted with Elizabeth.

Elizabeth is one of the most intriguingly written novels I've read in some time; it is deceptively rich and rewarding. Hamilton's style is one of allusion, of casual reference, an author in full command of the writing craft, knowing what to tell, what to show, and most especially what to conceal. And ironically in that concealment revealing all.

At just 14 years old, Elizabeth Cuttner is a startling little sociopath with powers natural and not (A Novel of the Unnatural states its tagline). She tells her story in a voice quite distinctive, yes, but also as cool and unforgiving as a marble tombstone. With dispassionate precision, she grasps the motivations of those around her, fathoms their subconscious desires; Elizabeth has psychological insights that people thrice her age never attain. She amazes, charms, bewilders, and ultimately horrifies.

Elizabeth herself is an amazingly complex character, her voice so confident, so ageless, so wise, as she begins to use her unnatural talents...

There is barely a whisper of actual violence or overt sex, but the novel seethes with these powers, yet the tone throughout is cool, almost affectless.

 
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When Grandmother vanished, the glass of the large, handsome mirror in her bedroom was found scattered on the floor in small, glittering pieces, like the remains of a collapsed, bleached mosaic.
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The image in the mirror of fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Cuttner is that of the fey and long-dead Frances, who introduces Elizabeth to her chilling world of the supernatural. Through Frances, Elizabeth learns what it is to wield power - power of a kind that is malevolent and seemingly invincible. Power that begins with the killing of her parents...

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