Tag Archives: Suspense

Meet the Revenant

"The Revenant" Cover Image

“The Revenant” Cover Image

My name is Zulu.

I died when I was thrown from a horse on my way to elope with my girl. Then I woke up. I haven’t aged a day since. Before long I realized I had super powers–incredible speed, perfect vision, and miraculous strength. My only companion for more than a century has been Morgan the Seer, an old man who can see the future. He tells me what he sees in his dreams and I help the people he sees. The media’s pegged me a vigilante, but I’m really more of a superhero, keeping the city safe from evil under the cover of the night.

[Tweet “Zulu doesn’t eat or get cold & if he avoids a wooden stake in the chest, he’ll keep living.”]

My name is Kat.

I like to talk. In fact, my mom? She says I talk too much and she named me Katherine because I reminded her of a Chatty Cathy doll. I tried to tell her that she wouldn’t know I was so chatty when she named me because I was still a baby and couldn’t talk at all. Zulu? He’s a revenant, which is different from a vampire, but I’m not exactly sure how except vampires drink blood and so far Zulu hasn’t. He found me after school one day and recruited me to help him and the Seer, who I think is like his father, but is more the age of his grandfather, and considering what I know of his history, isn’t even really related to him at all. Oh! Did I mention I see auras? I can also sense what people are feeling, which is probably why the Seer recruited me to help him and Zulu save people. Anyway, since I joined them I’m happy, you know? Because I finally feel like I belong somewhere, and they don’t look at me like I’m strange or something, because let’s face it, alongside a man who’s lived as long as the Seer and someone who’s immortal because he returned from the grave, I’m like…normal.

[Tweet ” Kat is full of life, youthful and sometimes just a little naïve about evil.”]

My name is Morgan.

I first learned of my ability to see the future when I was a boy and I saw the livery stable burn to the ground. I tried to warn the groom but he wouldn’t listen. I’ve spent the past hundred years recording my dreams in a journal until the timing’s right for me to send Zulu and Kat to help some poor soul escape certain danger. In my time I’ve seen many changes. For example, it used to take a week or more for news to travel. Now we see it as it’s happening and people walk around with cameras on their person, recording the minutia of every second of their lives–it’s maddening! But I digress. Where was I? Oh yes. Though I can see the fate of others, I’m unable to see my own. Considering my twin brother, Malchus, has found a way to return from the grave and he blames me for his death, I’m not sure that’s necessarily a good thing.

[Tweet “Morgan has made his path in life, trusting himself  and his judgement.”]

My name is Malchus.

Morgan is my twin brother. Growing up, my parents had high hopes for me. I apprenticed with Dr. Algernon while my dolt of a brother was relegated to farm duties. Algernon taught me more than the Healing Arts. He also taught me how to raise the dead, something my close-minded brother couldn’t comprehend. When a bunch of idiot high school kids got in over their heads with a Ouija board I slipped into one of their bodies. My plan is simple: seek revenge on my brother, who I know had a hand in my death. The only obstacle to my success is my rusty necromancing skill. If I can only recall the process to properly raise people from the dead, I will amass an army of minions to help me and the world will bow at my feet!

[Tweet “Malchus is the is the poster child for why you shouldn’t give in to peer pressure.”]

Which character from The Revenant are you? Take the quiz at http://gotoquiz.com/YRhrX to find out! Don’t forget to come back to post in the comments below.

Please note: Character bios were originally published as a part of my Bit’n Book Tour on 4 Sept 14 on The Fire & Ice Book Review Blog. 

“The Other Typist” – Flappers gone wild

In her job as stenographer for the police department, The Other Typist‘s Rose Baker is forced to hear a number of graphic and sometimes gruesome confessions not suitable for a woman’s ears. Rose is a prim and proper young woman living in 1924 New York in an era of prohibition and waning morals. When Odalie joins the steno pool, Rose distains her at first, but then she becomes fascinated by her. It’s not long before Rose becomes Odalie’s friend and roommate and Odalie becomes her obsession. When Rose enters Odalie’s world, she is thrown into a world of lies, mistaken identity and murder.  It’s not long before Rose’s world begins to unravel. She fakes a police report, attends speakeasies, runs errands for bootleggers, and fights her feelings for the Lieutenant Detective and for Odalie.

I enjoyed the inherent suspense of Suzanne Rindell’s first publication, the likes of which I have not seen since S.J. Watson’s Before I Go To Sleep. In the beginning, the mystery revolves around Odalie. I wanted to know who she was, why someone of her stature and grace wanted to work in a dirty police station. When we are taken to her upscale apartment and learn she may have a sugar daddy, I wondered why, if she had someone to pay her bills, she would need to work at all, let alone with smelly drunks and underhanded murderers. After Rose attends her first club and finds out Odalie is both bootlegger and speakeasy organizer, the mystery shifts and the reader wonders how far buttoned-up Rose will go to be near the object of her obsession. Rose soon confides she is telling her story from a hospital and seeing a psychiatrist, adding another level of intrigue. Then Teddy appears to question Odalie’s identity, claiming she is not Odalie, but Ginevra instead, and that she has something to do with his cousin’s death. Later, when Teddy shows up at the police department, the page-turning reaches manic proportion. I think I missed most of Revolution in my haste to finish the novel. After all, Kobo told me I only had 1 hour left of reading to go. Having to re-watch parts of Revolution to fill in the blanks was a small price to pay for the punch line of this amazing book.

The Other Typist is an excellent example of the unreliable narrator. In most of what we read, we grow an affinity with the narrating character. Over the course of the novel, we learn to trust the narrator, identify with her, empathize with her, maybe even imagine ourselves in her position, but this is not always the case. By the end of The Other Typist, the reader is left questioning unsuspecting, mousey Rose’s culpability in the debacle. Did Odalie drug her fiancé and leave him to die in his car on the train tracks or was it Rose? Did Rose grow up in an orphanage or was it Odalie? Was Rose the one making changes to the confessions all along or was it Odalie? Did Odalie kill Teddy or was it Rose? What about Gib? Does Odalie really disappear to begin life anew at the end or does Rose kill her too? Is Ginevra Odalie’s alter ego, or is it Rose’s? Normally I like a story to tie all loose ends into a tidy bow at the end, but somehow, having these questions burn on in my psyche long after the novel is done is more satisfying.

As is the case with Single White Female and The Talented Mr. Ripley, the suspense of The Other Typist is in the build toward the climax, wanting to see how far the characters will go, waiting for the last thread to unravel.

Have you read The Other Typist? Who do you believe is Ginevra in disguise?

Foreshadowing Rant


When Killian Jones, aka Captain Hook in ABC’s Once Upon A Time vows to get even with “The Crocodile” aka Rumplestiltskin aka Mr. Gold, it’s not foreshadowing. From the moment we meet Hook, he is at odds with Rumple. When Rumple cuts off Hook’s hand and he begins to plan his revenge, it builds suspense as the viewer wonders how he ever could, seeing as Hook stuck  in Fairytaleland and Rumple is stuck in Storybrooke. His plan to get even is idle posturing, not foreshadowing. The long shot of The Jolly Roger in Storybrooke harbour however, now that’s foreshadowing, as it hints that Hook will finally get his revenge at some point in the future.  

In spite of what SparkNotes may say, when the witches tell Macbeth he will be Thane of Cawdor and King, it is not foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is much more subtle than that. WiseGeek defines it as giving “hints about things to come in later plot developments. It can be very broad and easily understood, or it may be [the] complex use of symbols, that are then connected to later turns in the plot.” To add to that, Buzzle says foreshadowing “can either be done in passing with the help of a comment, or as a thought that one of the characters has, as a symbolic representation through certain symbols, as well as certain other forms.” Going by this definition, the Hook revenge plot is the type of foreshadowing that is broad and easily understood.

I have just finished marking sixty exams in which students are asked to provide an example of literary devices, foreshadowing amongst them, from the works of literature studied in the semester. Invariably, students point to Macbeth and the first set of prophecies he receives from the witches early in the play. Told he will be Thane of Cawdor and king, the witches prophecies are not foreshadowing, any more than a character who states that he is about to go shopping and then leave to go to the store is foreshadowing. Conversely, the second set of prophecies may indeed be considered foreshadowing, as by this time the audience has learned the witches have the power to see the future and the prophecies are cryptic enough that one must have been paying attention to realize how they refer to Macbeth’s demise.

Foreshadowing in Macbeth occurs to predict Lady Macbeth’s death. Throughout the play, Shakespeare describes sleep as a metaphoric death. When Lady Macbeth sleepwalks, she is in a state between life and death. As Macbeth’s reign is about to come to an end with the attack of the English army, the audience knows that Lady’s Macbeth’s life as she knew it is also about to come to an end. Whether she survives or not, she will no longer be queen, which is a kind of death. Seeing how badly Lady Macbeth wanted her title, for her, actual death is probably preferable. If you missed the signs, missed making the connection between sleep and death, Lady Macbeth’s death would no doubt come as a shock.

Another example is in plant and tree imagery. In Act I, before Macbeth succumbs to his ambition, Duncan tells him, “I have begun to plant thee, and will labour to make the full of growing” (iv). Once Macbeth “plants” Duncan in the ground, he grows to be the new king. One of the markers that Macbeth’s end is near is when Birnam Wood advances on Macbeth’s Dunsinane castle. When Macbeth arrives at the witches’ lair before he receives the second set of prophecies, he comments they have, among other things, blown trees down (IV.i). When Macbeth hears the Birnam Wood prophecy, he asks “Who can impress the forest, bid the tree unfix his earth-bound root?” (IV.iii). This is after the witches show Macbeth an apparition of a child with a tree in his hand. Later, after seeing Banquo’s ghost, he admits to Lady Macbeth, “Stones have been known to move and trees to speak”. At this point, anyone that’s been paying attention should get the idea that trees and plants may play an important role in Macbeth’s future. This is how foreshadowing works.

Foreshadowing is difficult to incorporate into a piece of writing as it requires a great deal of planning. In the young adult novel I am currently crafting, I have been dropping breadcrumbs as to the revenant’s origin. That the necromancer responsible for Zulu’s resurrection is Malchus should come as a surprise to a few, but savvy readers will have picked up on this fact earlier in the plot than the reveal. One might ask, what keeps the reader reading if a major revelation is figured out early in the plot? Suspense is the answer. Even if the reader picks up on the clues and puts the puzzle together, he should continue reading to see if his assumption is correct. The reader is kept guessing if his interpretation is correct until the reveal, because foreshadowing done right is implicit in nature.  

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Works Cited

Sparknotes. Macbeth Key Facts. 2012. <http://www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/macbeth/facts.html&gt;.31 Jan 13.

WiseGeek. What is Foreshadowing. 2013. <http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-foreshadowing.htm&gt;.31 Jan 13.