Welcome to the Lost Ones Halloween Takeover
Ghost story. Big house story. Love story. War story. Family story. His tory. Her story. Mystery story. Spiritual story. Pick a genre. any genre. Think this book ticks them all. Spooky story? Spooks are spies. Annie and Stella, spooks. Lucien spooky. Mrs. Henge, Mrs Danvers? Because the love did not dare to speak its name. Oh what a tangled web she wove. I can’t tell you any more because I mustn’t do spoilers. I may have said too much already? But you want to know more? Okay, I get it.
It’s England in 1917. World War I. Stella Marcham, devastated by the loss of her fiancé and in need of diversion, travels to the country house, Greyswick where her pregnant sister, Madeleine, resides whilst her husband attends to war work in London. On arrival she finds Madeleine a mess and the house a creaking cornucopia of unexplained occurrences. The house holds some secrets, pretty dark ones at that. It has a gothic, supernatural flavour with some tension and nail biting moments. I don’t normally ‘do’ scary. Reader, I’m a sensitive soul and these things play on my mind. So I only read this during the daytime. Had I risked an after dark read I may well have caused some neighbourhood consternation with my screams for there are some creepy bits in here!
It’s a protracted piece of good, old fashioned story telling, descriptive and convincing on several levels. You don’t think, almost, to consider the historical research that’s been undertaken because it’s all so seamless within the body of the narrative. Everything fits. There are relationship dynamics on several levels too with the diverse characters well defined and believable. The great class divide is explored subtly as sub text rather than any kind of issue or with points to make. I found a couple of observations that resonated with me, one regarding the nature of Greyswick as a grand house and the other a contemplation on sliding doors and wars……
‘The calculated effort put into its grandeur had reduced it to a caricature of the very thing that it aspired to be.’
‘What would his life be now if an Austrian duke hadn’t been shot and an antiquated arrangement alliances hadn’t dragged us all into years of mindless bloodshed?
The denouement and conclusion is suitably explosive and dramatic but with that satisfying ‘all ends tied up’ finish that leaves a reader comfortably satisfied despite having the crap scared out of them by the ‘reading ride’ they’ve been on. ;-)
What an excellent idea to publish on Halloween. Go get yourself a copy and scare yourself silly.
Great big thanks to Joe Thomas at HQ, Harper Collins for a delicious copy of this book.