"Mysteries of Winterthurn", Joyce Carol Oates- Anyone Read This?

I am a huge fan of Oates’ 3 Gothic tales, written by the author in the 80’s. A piece of jewelry given to me at Christmas reminded me of a chapter in the first book in this loosely-related “series”, Bellefleur , so I ordered it online from a used bookseller and re-read it, then decided to re-read the other two related books of hers–A Bloodsmoor Romance & Mysteries of Winterthurn . I haven’t done much with “Bloodsmoor” yet but am about 1/2 way thru “Mysteries” (very Poe-like, or “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde”-like, if you will, in case you haven’t read it! HIGHLY gruesome).

One thing I like about the way Oates has constructed these books is that she leaves a LOT to the imagination, and particularly in this book, as the crimes are “solved” but you have to do quite a bit of the sleuthing yourself, or guess quite a bit from context. There seem to be many supernatural influences abroad, as well, particularly in “Mysteries”.

I do have a question for anyone who has read this book, however, which I will ask in spoilers so as not to ruin anyone’s appreciation for this or any of the 3 books:

Clearly the aristocratic older daughter of the Kilgarven clan performed the murders in the first segment of the book, and this after having been significantly, horribly abused/raped/tortured by her domineering bastard of a father for most of her life. And I am assuming the opening of the book where she purchases quicklime for her “garden” is actually used for the perservation/burial of the dead bodies–but how did the little nephew she killed in the room with his mother (who was herself left alive, jarringly) really die? How could his little head & body have been half-eaten, or at least appear to be bitten repeatedly? Are we supposed to think that the murderess killed him in this way, or could some poison of some sort have accomplished the deed? Or should we believe—even more frighteningly–that the MOTHER herself, driven to madness perhaps by some poison administered by the murderess (Mom’s badly hallucinating as she falls asleep in the “haunted room”) killed her own child? I’m just not sure what to think, but perhaps that’s the point.

Can anyone give this a best guess for me?

And, darn it, these are GREAT if scary and graphic reads, so if you haven’t picked any of them up, you ought to! All three are very engrossing, but Bellefleur and Mysteries of Winterthurn are especially nice pieces of Gothic literature, if you love that sort of Bronte sisters-EA Poe-Robert L Stevenson-Henry James stuff. I got all three books very cheaply online at Amazon from used sellers, too.


Gee, guess I had best add this to the “Best books no one but me has ever read” Thread!

I’m looking thru essays on line to see if anyone has any insight into this book, or others of her series. Perhaps I can answer my own question.

I have read the first two books in the novel and would like to discuss it with you. This is an old thread, so if you get this send me a message back.