Rating: 4 stars
Note: As stated under the Source (above), I received this book for free from Skyhorse Publishing via NetGalley and Edelweiss. I pride myself on writing fair and honest reviews.
Summary: After having survived World War II and the death of their parents, Rebecca and Eliza are shipped off by their aunt, forced to work as domestics in a creepy old house in Wales, far away from everything they know and the few people they love. To make matters worse, there is something off in the house and the little village that surrounds it. The young girls who have served as domestics have either died or disappeared over the years. The townsfolk tell stories of the house being haunted, living in fear of all who live there. What happened to the previous girls and what will happen to them? Is the house truly haunted or is something more nefarious at work?
Review: Almost immediately, I thought of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. No denying the story’s gothic feel, and that is certainly a selling point for me. I’m a sucker for a good gothic mystery. And this definitely qualifies as good. Not Rebecca or Wuthering Heights good, but good.
My favorite parts of the book: the backstory and build up of tension were excellent, and the ending was not what I expected. As the story progresses, we learn more and more about the girl’s earlier lives, how their father died, why they ended up in their aunt’s care, and how she came to be so changed. The web that is weaved is particularly complex and compelling and more than once I found myself wondering if my assumptions were anywhere near the truth. Until the very end, I never had a full handle on the full nature of the mystery – in some cases I knew a who (or two), but not the why. I love it when I don’t get it.
My least favorite parts of the book: while the ending came at the right time (I was on the edge of feeling like I was ready for it to be over), it unraveled all of a sudden, and somehow, all that tension spilled away like a knocked over glass of milk. The dark drama that is part and parcel of gothic mystery suddenly felt a bit like a caricature. However, once the primary mystery was solved, the appropriate mood was restored and the story ended on the right note.
Overall, a really enjoyable read, and a great reminder of how much I love gothic as a genre.
Making a note to reread Rebecca and Wuthering Heights and find the latest and greatest in gothic right now…
P.S. Love this cover.