The Chancery Court had jurisdiction over all matters of equity, including administration of estates, the guardianship of orphans, and disputed property disbursement. In Dickens’ time, some cases could take years to be settled, changing the lives of those involved.
Esther Summerson, a young woman raised in a tough and unloving atmosphere, is unexpectedly requested to be a companion to two teenage orphans, Richard Carstone and Ada Clare, for whom the court has appointed as guardian, John Jarndyce. They take up residence at Mr. Jarndyce’s home, Bleak House. The story of their lives and fortunes is the main thrust of the novel, and is related at times through the eyes of Esther, whose gentle point of view gives the reader a different and more intimate perspective.
Burnett, Frances Hodgson
Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic children's novel is about orphaned Mary Lennox, who is sent to live with her uncle at Misslethwaite Manor in Yorkshire. Initially a sour, bad-tempered child, Mary begins to bloom under the influence of nature when she discovers a long-abandoned garden on the grounds of her uncle's estate. Burnett's novel is brought to life by Volunteers who lend their voices to her characters.
It is the end of the 19th century. Like thousands of others, the Rudkus family has emigrated from Lithuania to America in search of a better life. As they settle into the Packingtown neighborhood of Chicago, they find their dreams are unlikely to be realized. In fact, just the opposite is quite likely to occur. Jurgis, the main character of the novel, has brought his father Antanas, his fiancée Ona, her stepmother Teta Elzbieta, Teta Elzbieta's brother Jonas and her six children, and Ona's cousin Marija Berczynskas along. The family, naïve to the ways of Chicago, quickly falls prey to con men and makes a series of bad decisions that lead them into wretched poverty and terrible living conditions. All are forced to find jobs in dismal working conditions for their very survival. Jurgis, broken and discouraged, eventually finds solace in the American Socialist movement.
This novel was written during a period in American history when “Trusts” were formed by multiple corporations to establish monopolies that stifled competition and fixed prices. Unthinkable working conditions and unfair business practices were the norm. The Jungle’s author, Upton Sinclair, was an ardent Socialist of the time. Sinclair was commissioned by the “Appeal To Reason”, a Socialist journal of the period, to write a fictional expose on the working conditions of the immigrant laborers in the meat packing industry in Chicago. Going undercover, Sinclair spent seven weeks inside the meatpacking plants gathering details for his novel.
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is an 1889 novel by American humorist and writer Mark Twain. The work is a very early example of time travel in literature, anticipating by six years H. G. Wells' The Time Machine of 1895 (however, unlike Wells, Twain does not give any real explanation of his protagonist's traveling in time). Some early editions are entitled A Yankee at the Court of King Arthur.
One of the great literary tragedies of all time, The Hunchback of Notre Dame features some of the most well-known characters in all of fiction - Quasimodo, the hideously deformed bellringer of Notre-Dame de Paris, his master the evil priest Claude Frollo, and Esmeralda, the beautiful gypsy condemned for a crime she did not commit.
Montgomery, Lucy Maud
The second part in the story of Anne Shirley, covering her years of teaching at Avonlea School, before she heads off to college.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (commonly shortened to Alice in Wonderland) is an 1865 novel written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. It tells of a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world (Wonderland) populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures. The tale plays with logic, giving the story lasting popularity with adults as well as children. It is considered to be one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre, and its narrative course and structure, characters and imagery have been enormously influential in both popular culture and literature, especially in the fantasy genre.
This is volume 3 of 4.
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (or, more briefly, Tristram Shandy) is a novel by Laurence Sterne. It was published in nine volumes, the first two appearing in 1759, and seven others following over the next 10 years. It was not always held in high esteem by other writers (Samuel Johnson responded that, "Nothing odd can last"), but its bawdy humour was popular with London society, and it has come to be seen as one of the greatest comic novels in English, as well as a forerunner for many modern narrative devices.
Burroughs, Edgar Rice
John Carter, an American Civil War veteran, goes prospecting in Arizona and, when set upon by Indians, is mysteriously transported to Mars, called "Barsoom" by its inhabitants. Carter finds that he has great strength on this planet, due to its lesser gravity. Carter soon falls in among the Tharks, a nomadic tribe of the planet's warlike, four-armed, green inhabitants. Thanks to his strength and combat abilities he rises in position in the tribe and earns the respect eventually the friendship of Tars Tarkas one of the Thark chiefs.
The Tharks subsequently capture Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium, a member of the humanoid red Martian race. The red Martians inhabit a loose network of city states and control the desert planet's canals, along which its agriculture is concentrated. Carter rescues her from the green men to return her to her people.
Doyle, Arthur Conan, Sir
Imagine a strange, tropical place that is almost inaccessible. Time appears to have stood still there. Species of animal and plant life not seen elsewhere on Earth, except in the fossil record, inhabit the place. The lakes heave with the shapes of huge grey bulks moving under the surface. The woods are places where chittering cries move about above your head, as powerful apes move swiftly in the canopy of leaves. Then, a tree splinters nearby, and a dinosaur steps out from his hiding place... and he's eyeing YOU.
Jurassic Park? Not quite. The Lost World was an inspiration for Jurassic Park; in fact, a character in J.P. has the same name as one of the chief characters in The Lost World. It also inspired King Kong. But this is the original! Four adventurers go off to find the place shown in a dead man's sketch book - they find a war between apes and Indians, prowling dinosaurs, a sparkly treasure hidden in the blue clay - they find the Lost World. And because of the treachery of a native guide, their means of escape is destroyed!
Dickens' last complete novel was published serially 1864-5. It begins with an intriguing fortune offered to John Harmon by his late father, a rich dust contractor, in his will. To receive the money, John must marry a certain Bella Wilfer who he does not know from Eve. He is returning from the exile enforced by his father and confides in a ship's mate who attempts to murder him. The mate gets killed instead, leaving one inconvenient corpse. Because John is considered dead (the body is found with his papers), the money passes to Mr Boffin, old Harmon's foreman. Harmon adopts Bella and John comes into his employ disguised as John Rokesmith. Bella does not fall for John but through kindly Boffin's contrivances learns to hate money and fall for her suitor under his false name. Eventually she learns of his true identity as the Boffins had previously, and the villainous one-legged Silas Wegg's plot to blackmail Mr Boffin is brought to light. There is also a story running behind the main plot about a certain Eugene Wrayburn and his love for Lizzie Hexam, and his rival's attempt to murder him. The two plots are only really connected through the waterside murders but it allows Dickens to indulge in an extremely socially diverse cast of characters.
Our Mutual Friend (written in the years 1864–65) is the last novel completed by Charles Dickens and is one of his most sophisticated works, combining psychological insight with social analysis. It centres on, in the words of critic J. Hillis Miller, "money, money, money, and what money can make of life" but is also about human values. In the opening chapters a body is found in the Thames and identified as John Harmon, a young man recently returned to London to receive his inheritance. Were he alive, his father's will would require him to marry Bella Wilfer, a beautiful, mercenary girl whom he had never met. Instead, the money passes to the working-class Boffins, and the effects spread into various corners of London society.
Christine Daae was brought up in the Paris Opera house. Her musician father suddenly dies, telling her he will send her an angel of music to look after her. She grows up and discovers that she is hearing a voice, telling her and teaching her to sing. She believes he is the angel of music but he is known in the Opera House simply as The Phantom. Although she is fascinated and drawn towards the phantom, she falls in love with her childhood sweetheart, The Vicomte de Chagny - or Raoul - but the Phantom won't take this lightly...
The Arabian Nights is a collection of Perso-Arabic folk tales and other stories. The collection, or at least certain stories drawn from it (or purporting to be drawn from it), became widely known in the West from the 18th century, after it was translated from the Arabic — first into French and then into English and other European languages. The first English language edition, based on Galland's French rather than the original Arabic, rendered the title as The Arabian Nights' Entertainment - and this, or simply The Arabian Nights, has been the title by which it has been best known to English-speaking people ever since.
Montgomery, Lucy Maud
Anne is off to Redmond College! She will spend the next four years .
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
Amory Blaine grew up in a wealthy family and was given an Ivy League education. Without a need to learn a profession, he chiefly dabbled in literature and partying. His school chums were of similar background, and the ideas they reflected to each other grew in their minds to be of the greatest importance. Amory began to think of himself as somewhat of a character in a Rupert Brooke poem (from which the book's title is taken).
World War I intervened in this happy fog and brought focus to some, doubt to others.
In the rapidly changing technology of the war era, the financial underpinnings of the Blaine fortune began to fall apart. The deaths of Amory's parents left the finances without a rudder and as Amory's situation deteriorated he came to realize he had only his interest in literature to fall back upon.
Meanwhile, a series of young women traipsed through his life, attracted to his handsome face and bright wit like moths to a candle. But Amory could never master the role of being a real person... and, one by one, they traipsed out.
This Side of Paradise was F. Scott Fitzgerald's first novel and was one of the nation's most popular books in the year it was published. It has some definite parallels with Fitzgerald's own life, and is in some ways an autobiography.
Montgomery, Lucy Maud
Anne of the Island is the third book in the Anne of Green Gables series, written by Lucy Maud Montgomery about Anne Shirley. Anne of the Island was published in 1915, seven years after the bestselling Anne of Green Gables. In the continuing story of Anne Shirley, Anne attends Redmond College in Kingsport, where she is studying for her BA.
Here's a Mark Twain story that's very unlike those he became famous for, but when I read it back in Catholic high school, it left a deep impression. It concerns the deeply religious residents of a small village in Austria during the late sixteenth century, and what happened to several of them when a strange man began to visit their insulated homeland. There's little of Twain's humor here; this is a horror story, a parable. . . and a warning.
Forster, E. M.
When Lucy Honeychurch travels to Italy with her cousin, she meets George Emerson, a bohemian and an atheist who falls in love with her. Upon her return to England, she is forced to choose between free-spirited George and her more conventional fiancé, Cecil Vyse. The story is both a romance and a critique of English society at the beginning of the 20th century.
Forster, E. M.
The 1908 novel A Room With a View is the story of Lucy Honeychurch, a young English girl traveling to Italy for the first time. While staying in Florence, Lucy meets the unconventional George Emerson, with whom she shares a single passionate kiss, much to the horror of her chaperone, her spinsterish cousin Charlotte. Back in England, Lucy finds she must choose between George and her rather stuffy fiance Cecil Vyse. Forster's wonderfully comic romance satirizes turn-of-the-century English culture (as did his other major novel of the period, Howards End).
Sacher-Masoch, Leopold von
The framing story concerns a man who dreams of speaking to Venus about love while she wears furs. The unnamed narrator tells his dreams to a friend, Severin, who tells him how to break him of his fascination with cruel women by reading a manuscript, Memoirs of a Supersensual Man.
This manuscript tells of a man, Severin von Kusiemski, so infatuated with a woman, Wanda von Dunajew, that he requests to be treated as her slave, and encourages her to treat him in progressively more degrading ways. At first Wanda does not understand or relate to the request, but after humouring Severin a bit she finds the advantages of the method to be interesting and enthusiastically embraces the idea; though at the same time, she disdains Severin for allowing her to do so.
The story concerns a young woman called Rachel Verinder who inherits a large Indian diamond, the Moonstone, on her eighteenth birthday.
The book is widely regarded as the precursor of the modern mystery and suspense novels. T. S. Eliot called it 'the first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels'. It contains a number of ideas which became common tropes of the genre: a large number of suspects, red herrings, a crime being investigated by talented amateurs who happen to be present when it is committed, and two police officers who exemplify respectively the 'local bungler' and the skilled, professional, Scotland Yard detective.
Doyle, Arthur Conan, Sir
Doyle's final novel featuring the beloved sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, brings the detective and his friend to a country manor where they are preceded by either a murder or a suicide. A secretive organization lies culprit and an infiltration of it is in order.
Anton Chekhov was a Russian physician, dramatist and author who is considered to be among the greatest writers of short stories in history. His career as a dramatist produced four classics and his best short stories are held in high esteem by writers and critics. Chekhov practiced as a doctor throughout most of his literary career: "Medicine is my lawful wife", he once said, "and literature is my mistress." Chekhov had at first written stories only for financial gain, but as his artistic ambition grew, he made formal innovations which have influenced the evolution of the modern short story. His originality consists in an early use of the stream-of-consciousness technique, later adopted by James Joyce and other modernists, combined with a disavowal of the moral finality of traditional story structure. He made no apologies for the difficulties this posed to readers, insisting that the role of an artist was to ask questions, not to answer them. This is a collection of 7 of his insightful short stories about the human condition and include, beside the title story, A Doctor's Visit; An Upheaval; Ionitch; and The Husband which are best known.
Professor Pierre Aronnax is an academic whose thirst for knowledge carries him out of his ivory tower and on the trail of a mysterious sea beast. His curiosity at last is satiated when he finds himself in the belly of the beast-- that is, on board the incredible submarine the Nautilus, courtesy of its mysterious pilot Captain Nemo and in the company of his servant Conseil and sailor Ned Land.
The action takes place in London, with excursions to Devon, Yorkshire, and Portsmouth, as we follow the adventures of the eponymous hero. Nicholas is forced to unwelcome employment to help secure support for his widowed mother and his sister from their mercenary relative Ralph, on whose mercy they have been thrown. After many adventures Nicholas finally triumphs over his Uncle, although his success is also tinged with sadness.
Ethan Frome is a novel published in 1911 by the Pulitzer Prize-winning American author Edith Wharton. It is set in the fictitious town of Starkfield, Massachusetts, New England, where an unnamed narrator tells the story of his encounter with Ethan Frome, a man with dreams and desires that end in an ironic turn of events.
"Heidi" takes us on a journey to the eventful childhood of a good-hearted girl from the Swiss Alps. A warm and loving story, full of touching moments, it reaches children and adults alike. It was written in 1880 and published in two parts:
1. Heidi's years of learning and travel.
2. Heidi makes use of what she has learned.
This English translation from 1915 has "an especial flavor, that very quality of delight in mountain scenes, in mountain people and in child life generally, which is one of the chief merits of the German original. The phrasing has also been carefully adapted to the purpose of reading aloud"
The book tells the adventures of five Americans on an uncharted island in the South Pacific. The story begins in the American Civil War, during the siege of Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederate States of America. As famine and death ravage the city, five northern prisoners of war decide to escape by the unusual means of hijacking a balloon. The five are Cyrus Smith, a railroad engineer in the Union army (named Cyrus Harding in some English translations); his black manservant Neb (short for Nebuchadnezzar), who Verne repeatedly states is not a slave but an ex-slave who had been freed by Smith; the sailor Bonadventure Pencroff (who is addressed only by his surname, but his "Christian name", Bonadventure, is given to their boat; in other translations, he is also known as Pencroft); his protégé Harbert Brown (called Herbert in some translations), a young boy whom Pencroff raises as his own after the death of his father (Pencroff's former captain); and the journalist Gedéon Spilett (Gideon Spilett in English versions). The company is completed by Cyrus' dog 'Top'.
After flying in stormy weather for several days, the group crash-lands on a cliff-bound, volcanic, unknown (and fictitious) island. They name it "Lincoln Island" in honor of American President Abraham Lincoln. With the knowledge of the brilliant engineer Smith, the five are able to sustain themselves on the island, hoping that they will one day escape.
Another camper tale, this time set in the Canadian wilderness. A hunting party separates to track moose, and one member is abducted by the Wendigo of legend. Robert Aickman regarded this as "one of the (possibly) six great masterpieces in the field".
Barrie, J. M.
Peter and Wendy tells the classic story of Peter Pan, a mischievous little boy who can fly, and his adventures on the island of Neverland with Wendy and her brothers, the fairy Tinker Bell, the Lost Boys, the Indian princess Tiger Lily, and the pirate Captain Hook. (Introduction modified from Wikipedia)
Written in the years 1840 to 1841, when Dickens was twenty-eight years old, this is a ‘Road’ tale in the very best tradition. Little Nell Trent and her Grandfather are the main characters, who secretly set off from their home under cover of night, to escape the wicked dwarf Quilp. Pursued across England, their adventures lead them through poverty stricken city areas where several destitute people offer them aid on their way, into the countryside where they meet the strange, colorful, and sometimes menacing characters for which Dickens is so well known. Grandfather’s mind begins to wander, and he leans even more for help on Nell, who herself is feeling ill and weak. Eventually they reach a safe pasture with a kind gentleman and think their troubles may be over, but heart-breaking tragedy strikes.
Lawrence, D. H.
This intimate portrait of a coal-miner's family fastens on each member in turn: Walter Morel, the collier; Gertrude, his wife; and the children: William, Annie, Arthur, and Paul. When Mrs. Morel begins to be estranged from her husband because of his poor financial sense and his drinking habits, she comes to inhabit the lives of her children - most particularly, her sons. She is determined that they will grow to be something more than men that come home blackened with coal dust every day and roaring with drink every night. As each grows up and moves away, she must release him. But Paul, she holds; they have a bond that defies time and the attractions of young women.
Lawrence originally intended the book's title to be "Paul Morel" and it is on this son - and his lovers - that he spends the bulk of his tale. The strong mother can make a success of her son, but if he cannot learn to leave his mother's apron strings, will he really be a better man than his father?
A young man named Anodos experiences dream-like adventures in Fairy Land, where he meets tree-spirits, endures the presence of the overwhelming shadow, journeys to the palace of the fairy queen, and searches for the spirit of the earth. The story conveys a profound sadness and a poignant longing for death.
Martin Eden (1909) is a novel by American author Jack London, about a struggling young writer. It was first serialized in the Pacific Monthly magazine from September 1908 to September 1909, and subsequently published in book form by The Macmillan Company in September 1909.
This book is a favorite among writers, who relate to Martin Eden's speculation that when he mailed off a manuscript, 'there was no human editor at the other end, but a mere cunning arrangement of cogs that changed the manuscript from one envelope to another and stuck on the stamps,' returning it automatically with a rejection slip.
While some readers believe there is some resemblance between them, an important difference between Jack London and Martin Eden is that Martin Eden rejects socialism (attacking it as 'slave morality'), and relies on a Nietzschean individualism. In a note to Upton Sinclair, Jack London wrote, "One of my motifs, in this book, was an attack on individualism (in the person of the hero). I must have bungled, for not a single reviewer has discovered it."
Reputed as Eliot’s favourite novel Silas Marner is set in the early years of the 19th century. Marner, a weaver, is a member of a small congregation in Lantern Yard. Falsely accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he leaves his home and lives a solitary life near the village of Raveloe. Dedicating his life to weaving and hoarding gold for the next fifteen years, circumstances beyond his control shape his destiny and help to restore his faith in humanity.
Twice-Told Tales is a short story collection in two volumes by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The first was published in the spring of 1837, and the second in 1842. The stories had all been previously published in magazines and annuals, hence the name.
Maugham, W. Somerset
The Moon and Sixpence is a 1919 short novel by William Somerset Maugham based on the life of the painter Paul Gauguin. The story is told in episodic form by the first-person narrator as a series of glimpses into the mind and soul of the central character, Charles Strickland, a middle aged English stock broker who abandons his wife and children abruptly to pursue his desire to become an artist.
The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886) is a tragic novel by English author Thomas Hardy subtitled, "The Life and Death of a Man of Character". It is set in the fictional town of Casterbridge (based on the town of Dorchester in Dorset). The book is one of Hardy's Wessex novels, all set in a fictional rustic England. (Wikipedia)A poor, disgruntled, drunken young man sells his wife and child to the highest bidder. When he awakens, sober, the next day he regrets his rash act and vows to give up drink and find his family and bring them home. Eventually he is forced to give up the search and move on with his life. He does this quite successfully until, nearly 20 years later, his past comes back to haunt him.
Irritated and drunken, an itinerant farm-worker sells his wife and child to a stranger. Thus begins The Mayor of Casterbridge, set in rural and small-town England in the mid-1800s. In the original subtitle, Hardy called this the story of "a man of character," and the central character, Michael Henchard, is one of English fiction's greatest creations. Henchard is deeply developed as a realistic character, but also larger-than-life in the manner of a Greek or Shakespearean tragic hero — huge in his determination and huge in his failings. The novel deals with the struggles between individual will, the hold of the past, and the relentless control of circumstances in a changing society.
Jane Austen demonstrated her mastery of the epistolary novel genre in Lady Susan, which she wrote in 1795 but never published. Although the primary focus of this short novel is the selfish behavior of Lady Susan as she engages in affairs and searches for suitable husbands for herself and her young daughter, the actual action shares its importance with Austen’s manipulation of her characters' behavior by means of their reactions to the letters that they receive. The heroine adds additional interest by altering the tone of her own letters based on the recipient of the letter. Thus, the character of Lady Susan is developed through many branches as Austen suggests complications of identity and the way in which that identity is based on interaction rather than on solitary constructions of personality.
Macaulay, Fannie Caldwell
American author Fannie Caldwell, under pen name of Frances Little, tells the story of young Yuki San growing up in Japan circa early 1900s, and of her dreams of an American.
Apart from "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" - the pieces which made both Irving and The Sketch Book famous - other tales include "Roscoe", "The Broken Heart", "The Art of Book-making", "A Royal Poet", "The Spectre Bridegroom", "Westminster Abbey", "Little Britain", and "John Bull". His stories were highly influenced by German folktales, with "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" being inspired by a folktale recorded by Karl Musäus. Stories range from the maudlin (such as "The Wife" and "The Widow and Her Son") to the picaresque ("Little Britain") and the comical ("The Mutability of Literature"), but the common thread running through The Sketch Book — and a key part of its attraction to readers — is the personality of Irving's pseudonymous narrator, Geoffrey Crayon. Erudite, charming, and never one to make himself more interesting than his tales, Crayon holds The Sketch Book together through the sheer power of his personality - and Irving would, for the rest of his life, seamlessly enmesh Crayon's persona with his own public reputation.
Alcott, Louisa May
This story follows the lives of four sisters Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. Set in the tumultuous days of the American Civil war, readers grow to love the four sisters as they grow and mature into young women. This book has characters any girl can relate to because each of the four March sisters has a unique and different personality. A story that the young and old have enjoyed for years, this book truly is a classic.
Wharton's classic story of an aging (by Victorian-era standards) spinster socialite who would rather marry for money than for true love.
The Sea-Wolf is a novel written in 1904 by American author Jack London. An immediate bestseller, the first printing of forty thousand copies was sold out before publication. Of it, Ambrose Bierce wrote "The great thing—and it is among the greatest of things—is that tremendous creation, Wolf Larsen... the hewing out and setting up of such a figure is enough for a man to do in one lifetime."
The House of the Seven Gables is a gloomy New England mansion, haunted from its foundation by fraudulent dealings, accusations of witchcraft, and sudden death. The current resident, the dignified but desperately poor Hepzibah Pyncheon, opens a shop in a side room to support her brother Clifford, who is about to leave prison after serving twenty-five years for murder. She refuses all assistance from her unpleasant wealthy cousin Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon. A distant relative, the pretty young Phoebe, turns up and quickly becomes invaluable, charming customers and rousing Clifford from depression. A delicate romance grows between Phoebe and the mysterious lodger Holgrave, who is writing a history of the Pyncheon family. --
The House of the Seven Gables is set mainly in the mid-19th century, with glimpses into the history of the house, which was built in the late 17th century. The primary interest of this book is in the subtle and involved descriptions of character and motive.
This book is an early collection of ten well-known fairy tales. It is thought to have begun the genre of fairy tales.
Lawrence, D. H.
Women in Love is a novel by British author D. H. Lawrence published in 1920. It is a sequel to his earlier novel The Rainbow (1915), and follows the continuing loves and lives of the Brangwen sisters, Gudrun and Ursula. Gudrun Brangwen, an artist, pursues a destructive relationship with Gerald Crich, an industrialist. Lawrence contrasts this pair with the love that develops between Ursula and Rupert Birkin, an alienated intellectual who articulates many opinions associated with the author. The emotional relationships thus established are given further depth and tension by an unadmitted homoerotic attraction between Gerald and Rupert. The novel ranges over the whole of British society at the time of the First World War and eventually ends high up in the snows of the Swiss Alps.
Haggard, H. Rider
At 5 years old Leo Vincey is left in the care of a Cambridge professor by the name of Horace Holly. His father leaves him a strange casket which he is to open on his 25th Birthday. On opening the Casket Leo and Horace discover the strange history of Leo's ancestors. Leo and his adoptive father Horace must travel all the way to Africa in order to uncover the solve his family's strange history.