Twenty Years of Madness

>> Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I have had a mystery on my hands for about 20 years, and I need help to stop the madness.  Really.  Please.  Help.

About 25 years ago, I read a book, and I need to find it again.  I don't know the name, and I don't know the author.  I have tried every Amazon and Google search I can possibly think to do, and I have come up dry.  Only I would make such an issue of this, but this missing book has been driving me nearly mad since about 1990 and someone has simply GOT to help me find it or I will spend the next 20 years driving myself even crazier than before trying to figure this out.

Here is the story.  For the love of all decency, please post below if you can help me.  Circulate this blog post if you can't help me in the hopes of finding someone who can.  I am begging you.  Have pity.

So, I was in 6th grade (I think), when I read this book.  Basically, back in those days, our teacher would pick a book, read a few chapters to us, and then put the book away for good.  The goal, I think, was that if we liked the story, we should go get the book ourselves, read it for ourselves, and see what happened.  I imagine this was one of those "encourage kids to read" kind of movements.  Eh, whatever.  I read anything I could get my hands on and was always looking for more.  I am -- I mean was--  kind of nuts that way.

Anyway, this boy in our class named Dave (real name, by the way), bought the book and read it.  He said it was FABULOUS.  He was kind enough to loan it to me, and I read it too.  I, too, LOVED IT.  I read it, then read it again, then kept it so long he had to ask me to give it back.  I didn't mean to be rude, but I was having such a good time that I was struggling to part with it.  Insofar as I can recall, I have only ever borrowed something and had trouble returning it because I was enjoying it so much twice in my life.  The other was a cassette tape of Phil Collins in Genesis that I borrowed from my best friend in High School.  My favorite song was Something Happened on the Way to Heaven, and I listened to it in the car about 10 times a day.  He, too, had to eventually ask me to give it back.  Normally, I was much more polite with other people's things.  Honest!  I was!

About a year or so later, I was in a bookstore with my Aunt, showing her a copy of the book, because I was still coveting it.  To my surprise, I found about half a dozen SEQUELS!  HOLY COW!

Then ... I don't know what happened.  I didn't buy the book.  I didn't get the sequels.  I guess I thought there would be time, and I'm sure I didn't have the money.  I obviously failed to add them to my Christmas List, and I wonder if even then I was struggling to remember the name.  I certainly didn't think there would come a day when the books might *gasp* go out of print so that I couldn't just figure it out by going to the store.

And yet, here I am, 20 years later, wishing I had that book.  I even ran into that guy Dave on email awhile back and quizzed him about it.  Sadly, he neither remembers the book, the story, or my borrowing it.  He is sympathetic, though.  He told me if he still had the book and knew what it was, he would mail it to me immediately.  Unfortunately, he doesn't even know what I'm talking about, and only the politeness of grown ups keeps him from calling me, "a nutso he used to know."

Here is all I can remember about the story.  I hope someone, somewhere, has a clue for me:

The "villain"of the story is some dark spirit that kidnaps young women and takes them away to his castle.  I can't remember if we know in the beginning that he is bad.  I seem to think not, but I can't be sure.  I also seem to think that rather than "kidnapping" these women, he is marrying them, or so their families think.  Again, I can't be sure.  At the beginning of the story, the heroine's sister is taken away.  Or maybe it was her best friend.  Anyway, for some reason or other, the heroine goes with her sister/friend to the castle, as a servant, I think.  I seem to remember a subplot that she thought she was terribly ugly, or something.

Over the course of the story, we learn that the girls/wives waste away in the castle and become wraiths of some sort.  Eventually, the villain realizes that the heroine is a pretty girl, too, and he courts her as well, while her sister is (or has?) faded away.

I remember one scene where the heroine is lying on a bed, very sad, and all the former wives/wraiths come to her.  They tell her they could come to her because her heart was weaving a string of despair, and despair was a strong enough emotion for them to follow back from wherever they were.  Unlike happiness or sadness or whatever other emotions they talked about, despair weaves a strong enough thread that it doesn't break when they try to follow it to the source.  (Eh, something like that.)

I don't remember what happens next, but I do know that was the turning point of the novel.

That's it.  That is all I have to go on.

Is this ringing a bell for anyone?  Anyone??  ANYONE???

Only you can stop 20 more years of madness.  Help me solve this mystery?  Please?  (She asked pitifully.)

Edited to add:  Less than three hours after tweeting a link to this blog, someone had an answer.  Thanks to @rachelintheOC, we now know that this book is DarkAngel by Merideth Ann Pierce.  For achieving this miracle, she has demurred any offers of thanks and instead asked that I refer to her as "Queen." Given how little she had to go on in finding this book, I think I can manage "Queen Rachel" ... for today.  You can check out her blog here.  Have a look. I dare you not to love it.  


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