Friday, October 14, 2022

The Heights by Juliet Bell


So apparently I'm just giving five star reviews to every thriller I read now, but that's okay, because every thriller I read now has been unusually awesome. Case in point: THE HEIGHTS. I'm actually shocked that it has such low ratings because it's such a good story. It manages to capture the bleak passions and the emotional insanity of the original WUTHERING HEIGHTS story while also modernizing it. It's been about ten years since I've read WH so I looked up the summary, and THE HEIGHTS follows it really well, with a couple tweaks to ensure that it ends up being period-appropriate and working for the story.

THE HEIGHTS, like its predecessor, is dual timeline. The modern-day one has DCI Lockwood looking into the numerous deaths surrounding a coal-mining town, specifically a place called The Heights, where the Earnshaws used to live. Maybe I'm twisted for finding this amusing, but it makes sense-- why wouldn't a police want to look into a place where a horrendous amount of people mysteriously died? DID YOU EVEN READ THE ORIGINAL WUTHERING HEIGHTS? Emily Bronte was aiming to be the 19th century George R. R. Martin.

The past timeline starts out with Catherine and her other brother, Mick, as children. Heathcliff is brought on as a foundling, like the original, but here it's implied that he's one of Catherine's father's by-blows. The story is set against the background of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's decision to close twenty coal mines, which led to a miners' strike in 1984. This gives the story a bleak and gloomy setting, except instead of the moors, it's working class poverty and hopeless and coalface and unsafe mines and riots that set the gothic backdrop. Cathy and Heathcliff avoid their family by running off together, always together, until they meet the Linton children: the wealthy offspring of the people who owned and helped close the mine.

I don't want to say too much because less is more going in, but I think you can read this as a standalone book separate from it standing alone as a WH retelling. Heathcliff is seriously crazy. Juliet Bell (brilliant penname by the way; if you know, you know) captures how selfish Cathy was and how aggressive and irrational Heathcliff was. I mean, he murders a puppy. (Spoiler.) I loved the romance between Cathy and Heathcliff, even though I recognized how destructive and unhealthy it was, and everyone around them just ended up caught in their chaotic maelstrom. It was brilliant.

And now I'm sad and more than a little devastated.

4.5 out of 5 stars

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