My first Netgalley request! I loved this one. The blurb pitches it as possibly a murder-mystery or paranormal thriller, and it is just that. All the way through you’re left guessing whether the events that pass are caused by people or by ghostly activity.
The whole story centres around the Gustafano House, a notoriously haunted house. At the beginning, a group of teenagers meet to hold a seance here. (This was right up my street as the house I grew up in was rather large, old and had an eerie air about it. Needless to say, seance were involved over the years and instigated my love of the unusual.)
Here’s something to whet your appetite: “The Gustafon house sat in the center of a small clearing, like some kind of silent queen on her throne. The powder blue paint was cracked and peeling, but she still seemed regal. Either Mother Nature seemed subservient to the house. No birds chirped. No squirrels chattered. The trees didn’t rustle their leaves in the breeze…”
The story alternates from narrating what happened at the house in the past with the group of teenagers and the ouija board to the present day, twelve years on when they are still trying to make sense of what happened that night. There is a lot of onus from the paranormal investigator, Pierce about finding scientific proof of ghostly activity, which is balanced by his twin brother’s strong belief that it exists. The play between the two and the other characters in the book mean that you are always left guessing whether to believe or not.
The characters are well crafted, with lots of buried emotions that are teased out as the narrative unfolds. Pierce and Haven’s feelings for one another were explored wonderfully, again retaining the mystery for so long as it was unclear for a while what had passed between them on the night of the seance and then later, how they had left off when they parted ways as teenagers.
I was hooked the whole way and devoured this in one sitting, really not wanting it to end and yet keen to find out how it did.
A little bit different to my usual choice – a kind of Horror Sci-fi. Caught sight of this one when looking through Indie Presses and what was coming out. So glad I read this one – thoroughly immersive, well-written and blood-curdling.
The story tells the tale of a teacher, Nathan Brookes who takes a group of teenagers on an orienteering field trip. However he is neglectful, and the children go missing. Only one is found and has suffered memory loss and fails to enlighten everyone of what happened to the others.We see how Nathan stagnates in his life due to the guilt he feels from that day onwards. When a body is unearthed in the same woods where the children went missing, it is at first believed to be one of their bodies. However, the body turns out to be the body of a Bronze Age mummy, preserved by the peat of the area, as with such other bog bodies discovered as Tollund Man.
We see how Nathan stagnates in his life due to the guilt he feels from that day onwards. When a body is unearthed in the same woods where the children went missing, it is at first believed to be one of the children’s bodies. However, this is where things diverge into fantastical realms and the real story begins. This is a fascinating book with elements of folklore and superstitions from the Dark Ages of Britain. I loved the anthropological nature of the story in the present with the character, Tara who delves into researching the Bronze Age mummy and how the logical line of inquiry by the police is swept away by her discoveries. Little by little, the past intrudes into the present in astounding and horrifying ways.
I really didn’t see the twist coming in this and devoured the last section of it. The ending will haunt you long after you finish!
A gem of a book. Loved it…a story that echoes other stories, reminding you of the books you love and making you want to visit them once again.
This was a wonderful bookish book. The MC, Margaret has been raised in a bookshop and spends her day working and reading there, having become something of an “amateur” biographer as she terms it. Books have been her school, her university, her life. Like I say it was just ooooh so bookish.
“…you leave the previous book with ideas and themes - characters even - caught in the fibres of your clothes, and when you open the new book they are still with you.”
The storyline follows the biographer’s trip to interview Vida Winters, a prolific, famous and secretive author. The author has never given a truthful account of her life…until now. Margaret journeys to her house in Yorkshire, and you cannot help think (as the MC does) of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Through Miss Winter’s story we discover her tale (and there is a house) Angelfield House involved in the tale. But we are taken down the twists and turns of history, of literature, history echoing story or story echoing history, hungering to discover Miss Winter’s true tale, which, in turn, shares painful similarities with Margaret’s own.
I devoured this in two sittings, and I didn’t want to come out of it. It felt like a homage to other wonderful books as well. Just after reading it, I delved into Wuthering Heights again and I’m going to see Jane Eyre shortly at the theatre. So all in all, this is a book that you can luxuriate in and after leaving gets you in the mood to jump into lots of other stories that have inspired it. Also bought a copy of Rebecca recently on holiday, which has a lot to do with the ideas from this book still percolating in my head!
(The library in Dunster Castle, Somerset.)