Dale Cowan: Deadly Sleep (Twilight: Where Darkness Begins #1)

Summarizing from memory: Jaynie, obsessed with the boyfriend who dumped her for a California girl, travels to Scotland and gets possessed by the spirit of the only survivor of Macbeth’s murder spree, which leads to her plotting to kill her new boyfriend because she thinks he’s a Macbeth descendant.

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My copy of this is faded and battered and gorgeous.

Actual recap: Jaynie arrives in Scotland, jet-lagged and exhausted, having flown there from Cincinnati. She’s staying with Evelyn and Evelyn’s parents; Evelyn was a recent exchange student who stayed with Jaynie’s family.

Jaynie is still brooding about her break up with Tim. She’d thought they were in love, and then he went to California and met “that other girl.” She spends literally the entire book still upset about this, which I guess is realistic for a teenager but was still annoying to read. It does play into the plot, though, because the spirit haunting the Beattie family’s castle is…the ghost of a girl whose fiance was murdered by Macbeth.

No, I don’t get it either.

The entire point of the book is that Jaynie’s hurt feelings about her break up make her vulnerable to being a conduit for the revenge-seeking spirit. But…okay, look, I’m old and cranky and have lost patience with teenage drama, I guess, because I can’t imagine even for a second thinking that being dumped by some high school guy I dated put me in some sort of similar category to listening to my fiance and his entire family and their guests being slaughtered.

Anyway. On her first night there she goes to bed in the guest room with creepy photographs. That’s my kind of interior decorating, right there: put all the nightmare-inducing stuff in the spare room. Your guests will appreciate it!

“It’s a figure. In a white robe. Isn’t it? A person under water! Is it a dead body? Or just a double exposure?”

“Well,” sighed Evelyn. “I think it’s a double exposure but it’s supposed to be a ghost.”

“A ghost?”

“Liz claims she caught the spirit of Fiona, the Highland princess who committed suicide by jumping off this rock centuries ago. It’s an old legend and all I know about it is that Lady Fiona jumped from the rock into Loch Ferm, the lake, and drowned, when she discovered that her lover had been murdered.”

“Her lover was murdered?” Jaynie interrupted. “How terrible! I can’t imagine how awful that must be to have your—” Her voice broke off suddenly as she realized that she knew exactly how it would feel. Tim wasn’t dead, of course, but he may as well have been. Jaynie shivered. (pp. 12-13)

Oh, good grief.

Naturally that night Jaynie hears her name being called by a voice from the photograph, and she gets out of bed and stares at it for a while. She does this EVERY NIGHT, so as the book goes on she’s steadily getting more and more sleep-deprived and obsessed. It is well-written, enough so that you can almost feel her confusion and exhaustion.

The next day they go visit Fermleven castle to meet up with Evelyn’s boyfriend Craig Selkirk and the Beatties, Brian and Liz. Liz is the dreamy, thin, white-haired photographer who took the haunted picture, and Brian is the guy Evelyn’s planned to set Jaynie up with. Which is…helpful?

On the drive over Jaynie confessed to having nightmares about murdering someone, and Evelyn wonders if it was Tim. Uh. If my friend was dreaming about murdering her ex I might hold off on pushing her at a new guy, but I guess Evelyn is more optimistic than I am. Or she’s read fewer novels about murders, whichever.

Liz worries me, but Jaynie (and apparently everyone else including her parents) is oblivious to what sounds like SUICIDAL IDEATION every time she opens her mouth.

“I was looking at your photographs last night. Evelyn says you’re quite serious about your photography. Do you plan to make a career of it?” she asked as Brian began to clear the table.

“No, there isn’t time. Not enough time, I don’t think.” Liz offered that faint, out of place smile again. (p. 30)

Between conversations like that, and her obsession with the legend of Lady Fiona, I was so worried about Liz that I kept yelling at the characters to get her some help. But of course they couldn’t hear me, so they find her body in the loch on page 72.

Following Liz’s suicide (or possibly the ghost got her? but to me it reads like suicide), Jaynie’s nighttime visions intensify, and also start including familiar quotations: “sleep no more” and “Macbeth doth murder sleep.” (p. 75)

So Jaynie starts reading Macbeth, and talking to Uncle Angus (the Beatties’ somewhat sinister relative/employee/faithful retainer) about Macbeth and the legend of Lady Fiona. She becomes convinced that the Beatties are descended from Macbeth, and gets steadily more obsessed with the injustice of their owning the castle that should have belonged to Fiona’s (murdered) family.

She’s also dating Brian, which is hugely unhealthy. She causes a car accident while thinking/hearing a voice say it’s her “chance,” and Brian ends up injured. No one blames her, even though she sort of kind of tried to get him killed. Also Evelyn catches her carrying a dagger in her purse, which….COME ON, Evelyn, get your friend some help.

Evelyn doesn’t even twig that carrying the dagger is damned worrying behaviour; it’s only when she realizes Jaynie has been lying to Brian about it (claiming she cut herself on scissors in her bag instead of admitting it’s a dagger) that the seriousness of it all sinks in at all.

Evelyn DOES interpret Jaynie’s facial expression (huh?) as being that of a person “crying out for help—to prevent her own suicide.” I;ll be damned if I know what kind of look you could have on your face to convey that specific information, but I’m inclined to believe Evelyn about Jaynie’s mental state. Evelyn does NOTHING ABOUT THIS, though, most particularly not TELLING anyone, like maybe her parents.

Finally at some open house thing at the castle Evelyn and Craig convince Brian that Jaynie’s planning to stab him with a dagger. There’s the dumbest confrontation ever down at the Loch on the spot where Liz killed herself, and Jaynie attacks Brian with the dagger (he confronts her ALONE, because why the hell not). Brian tells Jaynie that he loves her, and that’s all it takes to de-possess her of Fiona’s ghost.

There’s an epilogue in which Jaynie explains how much she identified with Fiona because she too felt betrayed, but now that she knows Brian loves her she thinks she’s safe, because she no longer feels that desire for revenge. It would make me back away slowly and then run for the hills if I were Brian, frankly.

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For most of the book I alternated between wanting to shake Jaynie and wanting to get her some psychiatric care, because she read like a) a whiny wet blanket but also b) a suicide risk, and on the brink of becoming an actual physical danger to the people around her as well. I wonder if I would have found her more sympathetic when I was her actual age?

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