My Rating: 5 Stars
The type of novel take gets you hooked from page one. A mesmerising, captivating, suspenseful narrative that will keep you from putting it down.
Anne Chatham desperately needs a new start. After losing her family to Influenza and almost dying herself, Anne is ready to start a new chapter of her life as a typewriter with the Wellingtons family. But her almost-death experience gave Anne a unique gift: she can sense spirits. On her arrival, she’s introduced to the owner of the manor Henry Wellington, confined to a wheelchair, his two sons and the unpleasant wife, Lavinia. Anne soon discovers that the family hides a dark and terrible secret and that wondering spirit she senses in the house may hold the answers to the mysterious disappearance of Henry’s first wife 40 years before. Together with the less favoured son, Owen, they try to solve the mystery of what really happened to Eleanor Wellington. But someone isn’t happy with these meddling. During a masquerade ball, death strikes. Anne slowly becomes aware of the dangerous road she’s taking and the price of getting closer to a horrifying truth. Can she and Owen get out alive?
Highly addictive, captivating and impossible to put down. It’s a real page-turner.
The setting of the novel is amazing and one of my all-time favourites: an English haunted house in 1922. The atmosphere is that of a gothic novel, dark with several characters that slowly begin to reveal themselves as no so pure people. The pace is very steady and builds up suspense and thrill throughout the story. Clues and crucial information are given in a smooth way and it keeps you on your toes. There are enough twists in the story to keep you guessing the identity of the killer. The ending is completely unexpected but the author gives all the necessary pointers and leaves no loose ends.
The style of writing is captivating and the language is brilliant. Phyllis Newman was able to captivate the dark and mysterious atmosphere typical of a gothic novel. At the same time, it was some cosy mystery elements, like the romance line between Anne and Owen, which was perfectly in line with the mystery. The descriptions are perfect as they give a clear image of the setting and the actions of the characters. The best part is that you cannot get bored with them; with the style of writing runs like soft, dark music running in the background. Additionally, Newman introduces the social problems of the period in a way that gives depth to the story and the characters. The main issue is the class distinction, a characteristic from the 20th century. A young woman loses everything, she doesn’t have any rights and she has to find a way to survive. Finding a job was the only way not to end up in poverty. Newman also integrates supernatural elements just at the right times and the right places which creates spine-chilling moments in the story. I enjoyed every single one of them.
The characters are fantastic and very well developed. Anne is an intelligent young woman that even after going through traumatic events in her life keeps her head up and takes on the challenge life put in front of her. I loved her reasoning and her courage. She’s like a ray of light in that house and to the character that lives in it. Anne isn’t governed by fear, which isn’t surprising considering that she stared at death right in the face. However, she’s not reckless, she follows a logical approach and preserves herself from the people she doesn’t fully trust or understand. All this while being “ladylike”. I loved walking with her through this dark adventure.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel: the romance, the suspense build-up and the moments of pure horror. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.
Thank you, Phyllis Newman, for reaching out and sending me a digital copy of your book in exchange for an honest review.