I hope someone can help me with this one!
I’ll start with the part that I remember the most clearly – the part that has haunted me all these years for some inexplicable reason.
Two children are walking behind a beautiful woman down a long, grand corridor lined with mirrors. As they walk, the woman glances to the side to see their reflection in the mirrors. She says to herself. “Yes, that is better. Much better.” Because previously she had two large, beautiful, dangerous dogs (perhaps dobermans?) following her wherever she went.
I read the book in the mid 70’s, but it could have been written earlier than that. I read a lot of old books as a kid.
The feel of the book is Gothic and dark. Something like Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken or a Bellairs book. Or possibly even one of those creepy Scholastic paperbacks. But for some reason I think the writing quality was pretty good. Of course I was only around 10, so what did I know?
The children walking behind the woman are young and have been all dressed up. Pre-puberty. I guess you wouldn’t want sullen pimply teens following you around as decorative props?
I think the children are siblings, a boy and a girl? Perhaps twins? But that’s just a feeling. Maybe because they’re so aesthetically pleasing to the beautiful woman? In a way that a short, fat blond kid walking next to a tall, skinny redhead kid wouldn’t be. Like an Edward Gorey drawing of two matching Victorian children in matching velvet outfits.
The children are there against their will. Although it doesn’t seem like they got there by something as mundane as being thrown in your standard Pedo-Van. I feel like there was some kind of magic involved. Like a magic mirror or magic painting, something like that. But without the humor and lightheartedness that say, an Edward Eager book would have. These children are definitely in danger. And are they in another dimension? Another Time? I don’t know.
I also think the woman may be held against her will as well. Like some evil monster? power? man? is keeping her captive with his magic and brought the children there to appease her, but bringing her a couple of kidnapped children was hardly going to cheer her up given that she has zero freedom even though she does get to live in this fancy mansion? castle? wearing beautiful clothes. She did seem quite depressed.
Does anyone remember anything that sounds like this? I wish I could remember more. And I wish I could trust what I think I remember.
Thank you in advance for your time!