Genre: Gothic

Early Review – The Vanishing by Wendy Webb

January 16, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013 10 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – The Vanishing by Wendy WebbThe Vanishing by Wendy Webb
Published by Hyperion on January 21, 2014
Pages: 304
Genres: Fiction, Ghost, Ghosties, Gothic, Occult & Supernatural
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads


two-half-stars

Recently widowed and rendered penniless by her Ponzi-scheming husband, Julia Bishop is eager to start anew. So when a stranger appears on her doorstep with a job offer, she finds herself accepting the mysterious yet unique position: caretaker to his mother, Amaris Sinclair, the famous and rather eccentric horror novelist whom Julia has always admired . . . and who the world believes is dead.

When she arrives at the Sinclairs' enormous estate on Lake Superior, Julia begins to suspect that there may be sinister undercurrents to her "too-good-to-be-true" position. As Julia delves into the reasons of why Amaris chose to abandon her successful writing career and withdraw from the public eye, her search leads to unsettling connections to her own family tree, making her wonder why she really was invited to Havenwood in the first place, and what monstrous secrets are still held prisoner within its walls.

Julia Bishop is left alone and completely destitute when her husband commits suicide after it was discovered he had swindled out all their family and friends out of their life savings with a Ponzi scheme. She’s accused of being a co-conspirator in her husband’s shady dealings and is left friendless as well. Unexpectedly a man arrives on her doorstep to offer her a job taking care of her mother, the well-known but presumed dead author Amaris Sinclair. Accepting this job would also allow her to vanish from her current life issues so she readily accepts not truly understanding why she is being trusted with this job.

‘The truth finds its way into the light, no matter what you’ve done to contain it.’

There is little to say about this novel for fear of giving away spoilers. The Vanishing lacks in complexity but makes up for it in riveting storytelling. It often requires a suspension of disbelief because of the incredulity of much that occurs within these pages. For the better part of this novel, I found myself enthralled. A beautiful house in the middle of nowhere with a story all its own. A group of people with secrets. An unreliable narrator that puts everything into question.  I love a good Gothic novel and I was well overdue. I greedily consumed the pages eager for the much anticipated twist that is a critical part of any Gothic novel. And that’s where I was left feeling cheated and completely dissatisfied. Simply put, my suspension of disbelief was pushed to excess and rationality intervened. As the author states at the end:

‘With my novels, I’m not trying to define a generation, right any great wrongs, or change the way you think about the world or your place init. I just want to craft a good story that will delight you, entertain you, grab you and not let go, and send some shivers up your spine along the way.’

The Vanishing did entertain me and there was the occasional shiver. Unfortunately, the ending was an unsatisfactory conclusion to an exiting tale that left me perplexed and discontented. As a whole, this was a very enjoyable novel and I can still honestly say that I’m glad to have read it.

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Audiobook Review – Bellman & Black: A Ghost Story by Diane Setterfield

January 11, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 8 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review – Bellman & Black: A Ghost Story by Diane SetterfieldBellman & Black: A Ghost Story by Diane Setterfield
Narrator: Jack Davenport
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on November 5th 2013
Genres: Gothic, Historical Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads


two-stars

ONE MOMENT IN TIME CAN HAUNT YOU FOREVER.

Caught up in a moment of boyhood competition, William Bellman recklessly aims his slingshot at a rook resting on a branch, killing the bird instantly. It is a small but cruel act, and is soon forgotten. By the time he is grown, with a wife and children of his own, William seems to have put the whole incident behind him. It was as if he never killed the thing at all. But rooks don’t forget . . .

Years later, when a stranger mysteriously enters William’s life, his fortunes begin to turn—and the terrible and unforeseen consequences of his past indiscretion take root. In a desperate bid to save the only precious thing he has left, he enters into a rather strange bargain, with an even stranger partner. Together, they found a decidedly macabre business.

And Bellman & Black is born.

‘Without the past to cast its long shadow, might you see the future more clearly?’

Bellman & Black is the story of William Bellman who’s life was irrevocably altered after killing a crow with a slingshot when he was eleven years old. The brief yet ominous event foreshadows his life to come. William leads a prosperous life for many years having a large family and doing wells in business until it slowly begins to decay. A sickness spreads through his family and one by one they die yet at each of their funerals William Bellman is stricken to realize there is a smiling man dressed all in black, watching him. When William finds him one day in the graveyard, waiting with a suspicious proposition.

I think the fact that I actually have not yet read the much touted ‘The Thirteenth Tale’ was a benefit as I didn’t have the lofty expectations that others seemed to have going into this story. Alas, despite my lack of expectation this was still a dreadfully dull and disappointing tale. It had a very ‘Dickens’ writing style to it yet was less adroit. William Bellman even took on a similar feel to Ebenezer Scrooge who was obsessed with his business and making money (except William Bellman had a family to come home to). The attempted moral of this story is one choice can change everything, which is a powerful message, yet the deaths surrounding William Bellman didn’t even seem to be written as a result of him killing the crow but rather it was just an implied assumption. That powerful message was definitely diminished.

The beginning part of the story dawdles along telling the story of an unexceptional man and detailing his factory and the business he conducted. While it was evident that the author conducted the research necessary to make her detailing convincing, it didn’t generate an ounce of interest in me. It was historically interesting but not appealing in the least as it overwhelmed the story completely. I found myself halfway through and realized that I had no interest in any of the characters, there wasn’t a single ghost to be found in this ‘ghost story’ and any sort of plot was completely nonexistent. I was confused and incredibly bored. The second half didn’t get any better and the plot (and purpose of the story) remained absent. The one saving grace of this was my decision to opt for the audio route. Jack Davenport was a fantastic narrator and managed to make this a tolerable tale.

Suffice it to say, this is an apt description of my reaction when it was all said and done:

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Early Review – In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

March 7, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013, YA 8 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat WintersIn the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
Published by Amulet Books on April 2nd 2013
Pages: 404
Genres: Ghosties, Gothic, Historical Fiction, Horror, Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Cure for Dreaming, The Uninvited: A Novel, The Steep & Thorny Way

four-stars

In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?

Featuring haunting archival early-twentieth-century photographs, this is a tense, romantic story set in a past that is eerily like our own time.

‘Stay still. Smile. And summon the dead.’

Mary Shelley Black is a sixteen year old girl living in a war ravaged world. After her father is arrested she is forced to flee and stays with her Aunt in San Diego. After losing her father and finding out that her childhood love, Stephen, has lost his life in the war, Mary Shelley struggles desperately to cling to a reason to continue living when she’s visited by Stephen, as a spirit who is traumatized by visions of his death that he continues to re-live. Realizing that she’s the only one that can see him and the only one that can help him she begins to seek out information regarding his death and what truly happened to him.

Wowsa. This book was high on my anticipating in 2013 list and I’m so very glad to say that it lived up to all the anticipation. This was a fabulous, and fresh ghost story that fans of the genre will enjoy.

‘I think between the war and the flu, no one’s going to escape getting haunted. We live in a world so horrifying, it frightens even the dead.’

Blackbirds had an amazing story albeit based strongly on actual history. The story centers on the year 1918 when the Spanish influenza has swept through cities and World War I is ongoing. It was quite a dreary time to write about and Cat Winters didn’t hold back or try and make the story any less bleak and I loved that. The black and white pictures that were included throughout the book made the perfect addition to really showcase the mood of the story.

And oh, young love. The love between Mary and Stephen was so touching and quite shocking in its fervency. It may have seemed a tad unlikely that two could love each other so much at such a young age but it was beautifully written and completely believable. Your heart will ache for them.

This could have been like any other typical war story but what really managed to make this something special and distinctive was the focus on the increased interest in a spiritual nature as mourners became willing to attempt anything to assuage the pain of losing a loved one. A truly wonderful story, Cat Winters debut is an absolute triumph. In the Shadow of Blackbirds possesses a subtle intensity that will leave you breathless.

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Early Review – An Inquiry Into Love and Death by Simone St. James

March 4, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013 3 Comments

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – An Inquiry Into Love and Death by Simone St. JamesAn Inquiry Into Love and Death by Simone St. James
Published by NAL on March 5th 2013
Pages: 368
Genres: Ghosties, Gothic, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Broken Girls

three-stars

From the acclaimed author of The Haunting of Maddy Clare —and “a talent to watch” (Anne Stuart, New York Times bestselling author of Shameless)—a spellbinding ghost story set in 1920s England.

After her uncle Toby, a renowned ghost hunter, is killed in a fall off a cliff, Oxford student Jillian Leigh must rive to the seaside village of Rothewell to pack up his belongings. Almost immediately, unsettling incidents - a book left in a cold stove, a gate swinging open on its own - escalate into terrifying events that convince Jillian an angry spirit is trying to enter the house and is haunting the woods around Blood Moon Bay. If Toby discovered something sinister during his investigations, was his death no accident?

The arrival of handsome Scotland Yard inspector Drew Merriken leaves Jillian with more questions than answers - and with the added complication of a powerful mutual attraction. She suspects someone will do anything to hide the truth and begins to discover secrets that lie deep within Rothewell... and at the very heart of who she is.

When Jillian is informed that her Uncle Toby passed away after committing suicide she’s the only family that is willing and able to come and collect his belongings. Upon visiting the quaint seaside village of Rothewell that he was staying at, she finds quickly that there is something strange about this town. Realizing that her Uncle Toby had been staying there working as a ghost hunter she realizes that he may have been right and something is in fact haunting this village. Determined to prove that her Uncle didn’t kill himself Jillian teams up with a gentleman from Scotland Yard to solve the mystery so he can rest in peace.

‘What had just happened between us? He’d touched only my arm, but I’d felt the reverberations of that touch through my body like an echo. I could still feel them now.’

An Inquiry Into Love and Death is comprised of ghosts, family secrets, conspiracy and romance. The romance was the most unexpected addition and I wasn’t sure it was the best addition but it was still nonetheless sweet. It felt very historical romance/bodice ripper to me though and considering I went into this expecting an intricate historical fiction/ghost story it could have been a disappointment. I think the fact that I do enjoy historical romances made this not such a downside but I can see this being a flaw as the marketing on this didn’t hint at this as much as it should have.

There are many spooky moments and the writing was vivid and detailed to heighten the visualization. I found it intriguing that there are not only instances of ghosts but boggarts as well. Having not encountered any boggarts since Harry Potter I thought this was an interesting and fresh concept to the normal ghost story.

This was a well-told and entertaining story but didn’t have anything exceptionally special to garner a higher rating. I think having the understand beforehand that romance plays a huge part in her stories typically will help adjust my expectations prior to starting. Definitely intrigued enough by this author to check out earlier works though.

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Early Review – The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

January 11, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Giveaways, Read in 2013, YA 27 Comments

I received this book free from a Giveaway, the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – The Madman’s Daughter by Megan ShepherdThe Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd
Series: The Madman's Daughter #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on January 29th 2013
Pages: 432
Genres: Fairy-Tales/Retellings, Gothic, Horror
Format: ARC
Source: a Giveaway, the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads


two-half-stars

In the darkest places, even love is deadly.

Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father's gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.

Accompanied by her father's handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father's madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island's inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father's dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it's too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father's genius—and madness—in her own blood.

Inspired by H. G. Wells's classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman's Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we'll do anything to know and the truths we'll go to any lengths to protect.

‘Dead flesh and sharpened scalpels didn’t bother me. I was my father’s daughter, after all. My nightmares were made of darker things.’

I feel the need to start off by saying I didn’t dislike this book but obviously considering my rating I have some explaining to do. There was creepiness, there was a decent story line, but the pacing was so incredibly slow that it had an adverse effect on my overall opinion on this gothic retelling.

Let me tell you guys, the beginning of this story had so much creepy going on it was amazing. I remember starting this book, finishing the first couple of chapters, stopping for a second and saying to myself, “This is going to be so awesome.” Juliet seemed to be a very promising main character and I couldn’t wait to hear her story. But the gothic thriller aspect seemed to be put on the back burner and definitely became less of a focus. What did it end up focusing on? Romance, of course.

There was so much emphasis put on the romance and her being torn between two men, her swooning and constant need to fan herself that I would go so far as to consider this ‘historical-romance-lite’. If not for the creepy and exceptionally gruesome bits in this story I don’t believe I would have finished this. As it was though, the romance didn’t feel fitting in this type of story, like an irregular puzzle piece.

I had been forewarned that the middle dawdled but that the ending was a big shocker so that gave me hope. The pacing was definitely off for the vast majority of the middle portion and didn’t actually start picking up until almost the very end of the book. The big reveal happened and it was definitely the most interesting aspect of the entire story but it happened a little too late for me. There wasn’t a slow build-up to the grand finale which would have made this immensely better. Instead we received a storyline that plodded along, lacking in intensity, never quite gaining enough steam, and then we’re hit with the big ending. The middle section certainly required something more for me to still be invested enough in the story to be excited for when the big conclusion finally did happen.

Oh, and there’s a cliffhanger. Naturally. I think my response to that final page was something along the lines of, “Dude. For real?” Considering I was more than a bit bored through the majority of this story I was at least hoping we’d get some answers. I had still considered giving #2 a shot since sometimes it takes the first book to build the story (in a series) and book 2 is where we can finally get to the meat of the story. But my understanding was that this was a retelling of the Island of Dr. Moreau, however, the summary for book 2 states it was written: with inspiration from Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘THE STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE’ and I’m not sure I feel about the mixing of multiple retellings.

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Early Review – Beneath the Shadows by Sara Foster

May 11, 2012 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2012 0 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – Beneath the Shadows by Sara FosterBeneath the Shadows by Sara Foster
Published by Minotaur Books on June 5th 2012
Pages: 317
Genres: Gothic, Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads


two-stars

In this thrilling gothic suspense debut by Sara Foster in the tradition of Rosamund Lupton and Sophie Hannah, a young mother searches Yorkshire's windswept moors for the truth behind her husband's mysterious disappearance.

THE ANSWERS ARE HIDING BENEATH THE SHADOWS

When Grace’s husband, Adam, inherits an isolated North Yorkshire cottage, they leave the bustle of London behind to try a new life. A week later, Adam vanishes without a trace, leaving their baby daughter, Millie, in her stroller on the doorstep. The following year, Grace returns to the tiny village on the untamed heath. Everyone—the police, her parents, even her best friend and younger sister—is convinced that Adam left her. But Grace, unable to let go of her memories of their love and life together, cannot accept this explanation. She is desperate for answers, but the slumbering, deeply superstitious hamlet is unwilling to give up its secrets. As Grace hunts through forgotten corners of the cottage searching for clues, and digs deeper into the lives of the locals, strange dreams begin to haunt her. Are the villagers hiding something, or is she becoming increasingly paranoid? Only as snowfall threatens to cut her and Millie off from the rest of the world does Grace make a terrible discovery. She has been looking in the wrong place for answers all along, and she and her daughter will be in terrible danger if she cannot get them away in time.

‘There was something beautiful about this place, she thought – in daylight, the raw, untouched vista had the power to stop your mind for a moment. Here, you didn’t have to look up to see the sky, it came right down and met you, ever present beyond the ceaseless shifting of color, clouds, and light.’

I was intrigued by the gothic feel to the summary and loved the writing itself…‘The answers are hiding beneath the shadows.’ I was sold; however, despite the fact that the idea and concept was there it ended up falling flat.

The main character, Grace, was hard to gauge emotionally and was very hard to like and understand. This is a woman who lost her husband, Adam, a year prior and has just now decided that she needs to go back to their cottage to look for clues regarding his disappearance, because it simply doesn’t make sense that he would up and vanish without a word. The way she acted the majority of the time was that she had moved on it and the loss of her husband wasn’t impacting her day to day life as much anymore. I took this to mean that after a year she’s been able to work her way through all the emotions and has come out on top, which is understandable; however, just as soon as someone talks about Adam or some new clue pops up regarding him she immediately goes into meltdown mode so fast I’m surprised she didn’t give herself whiplash.

A lot of other things didn’t add up like how she felt about their cottage and the village itself. She came back to the cottage in order to clean it out and potentially sell it so she could have enough money for her to provide for her 15 month old child. As the novel progresses there isn’t an explanation regarding her change of mind but all of a sudden she starts talking about the cottage/village with a whole new attitude as if she never intended on leaving in the first place. And then there was the obligatory new male in her life, Ben, who ends up offering his assistance in fixing up her cottage to sell it. It’s one thing in a story for the main character to fall for someone or trust them so completely after only a short period of time, but when she’s leaving her child with him as she runs off to go track down some clue about the missing husband? Yeah, I’ve got a problem there. There were several other details that had me cringing but I won’t detail them all.

The mystery itself lacked a much needed suspense… halfway through I found myself wondering when something was going to happen since there didn’t seem to be any build-up that hinted that it was actually leading up to something big. Plus there were the little ‘paranormal’ tidbits like the mysterious clock that stops at 3am, the doors that shut by themselves, the fact that the main character is reading Rebecca throughout the whole story, and the constant ghost stories surrounding the area… with the way the story concluded I think that all these details hinted at more of a mysterious solution to said mystery when in fact it was a simple straight forward solution. I think it would have been much better if it was clear from the start without the failed attempts to make it a creepy, gothic tale

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Early Review – Long Lankin (Long Lankin, #1) by Lindsey Barraclough

January 5, 2012 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2012, YA 4 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – Long Lankin (Long Lankin, #1) by Lindsey BarracloughLong Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough
Series: Long Lankin #1
Published by Candlewick Press on July 10, 2012
Pages: 464
Genres: Gothic, Horror, Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Mark of Cain

four-stars

When Cora and her little sister, Mimi, are sent to stay with their great-aunt in the isolated village of Bryers Guerdon, they receive a less than warm welcome and are desperate to go back to London. But Auntie Idas life was devastated the last time two young girls were at Guerdon Hall, and now her nieces arrival has reawakened an evil that has lain in wait for years. A haunting voice in an empty room; a strange, scarred man lurking in the graveyard; mysterious words scrawled on the walls of the abandoned church . . . all point to a horrifying truth that has held Bryers Guerdon in its dark grip for centuries, a truth that Cora, along with Roger and Peter, two young village boys, must uncover before its too late for Mimi. A compelling, atmospheric novel inspired by a haunting folk song about murder, witchcraft, and revenge, Long Lankin is a truly stunning debut from an exciting new writer.

‘Everything was all right until they came.’

When Cora and her little sister Mimi are sent to live with their Great-Aunt Ida, it is clear from the start that they are neither wanted nor welcome in her house. For the time being the children must stay with her but she immediately sends word to their father that he must come get them, and he must come get them now. Cora, intrigued by the mysteries of the house despite their Aunt Ida’s constant demands to ‘not do this’ and ‘not do that’, begins searching the house and the closely residing and equally mysterious church. Cora gleans information from various papers found in the house, from the local neighbors, and from strange carvings like the words ‘Cave Bestiam’ which is found in several locations. Cora finds out more than she bargained for: that her and her family are intertwined in the mystery, that no one is safe, and that there really is something very real to fear.

I found the writing to be quite gripping and reminded me at times of Susan Hill’s writing in The Woman in Black. I’ve read several books that write using multiple different points of view and they’re not always done as well as could be. I believe it takes a talented author in order to make a multi-point-of-view story not seem too terribly overwhelming; this is definitely one of them. The main focus is on Cora and Roger but you occasionally get an unsettling view of Cora’s Aunt Ida and the occasional glimpse into past events.

Okay, so, I’ll admit it. I refused to read this alone. I also required a lot of sunlight. And yes, I’m a big weenie. It wasn’t exactly creepy the entire time though. It was a bit like riding a wave, honestly. The book would lead up to a scene that would have you trembling in your boots and then everything would suddenly relax again and you’d be lulled into a false sense of calm before the next swell. Then the monster under the bed would jump right back out. Okay, comparing Long Lankin to the monster under the bed makes him sound like one of those monsters from Monsters Inc. Long Lankin… was not cute, fuzzy, or funny. Long Lankin was one scary mo-fo that I hope I never have a chance encounter with in a dark alley. Or in my bedroom. (Mental to-do list: nail windows shut before bed).

Cora was quite a spirited little girl and didn’t run in fear of anything, including Long Lankin on a few occasions. Cora? Pretty much my hero. She was an awesome big sister who didn’t shrink in fear of anything when it came to saving her little sister Mimi. Now Roger… Roger was damn adorable and the frosting on the cake/story. I loved how the occasional funny lines from Roger that were thrown in managed to lighten the overall tension that the story exudes.

So the ending lost a star for the overall rating because I can’t help but feel that the ending left a bit to be desired. Predictable is the word that primarily comes to mind. I would have loved some cool crazy twist to it or have some rabid monkey show up (okay, maybe not a monkey… a lion?) Anyways, it seemed far too expected and I kind of sighed in disappointment when I was done. Still have plans to nail windows shut though.

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Book Review – The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

December 8, 2011 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2011 2 Comments

Book Review – The Woman in Black by Susan HillThe Woman In Black by Susan Hill
Published by Vintage on chttp://www.amazon.com/Woman-Black-Ghost-Story-Vintage-ebook/dp/B004J4WKLK/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1384118367&sr=1-1&keywords=the+woman+in+black
Genres: Ghosties, Gothic, Horror
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


four-stars

The classic ghost story by Susan Hill: a chilling tale about a menacing spectre haunting a small English town.

Arthur Kipps is an up-and-coming London solicitor who is sent to Crythin Gifford—a faraway town in the windswept salt marshes beyond Nine Lives Causeway—to attend the funeral and settle the affairs of a client, Mrs. Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House. Mrs. Drablow’s house stands at the end of the causeway, wreathed in fog and mystery, but Kipps is unaware of the tragic secrets that lie hidden behind its sheltered windows. The routine business trip he anticipated quickly takes a horrifying turn when he finds himself haunted by a series of mysterious sounds and images—a rocking chair in a deserted nursery, the eerie sound of a pony and trap, a child’s scream in the fog, and, most terrifying of all, a ghostly woman dressed all in black. Psychologically terrifying and deliciously eerie, The Woman in Black is a remarkable thriller of the first rate.

’Yes, I had a story, a true story, a story of haunting and evil, fear and confusion, horror and tragedy.’

Storyline

Arthur Kipps is a junior solicitor from London who has been asked by his employer to attend the funeral of Mrs. Alice Drablow in Crythin Gifford. He must also visit her residence in order to collect any important paperwork that she may have been left behind. Arthur sees the woman in black at Mrs. Drablow’s funeral and again at her residence at Eel Marsh House. She doesn’t appear to be a malevolent spirit so Arthur doesn’t worry too much and decides to spend the night at the house so that he can quickly finish his work and return to London. But that night, Arthur begins to hear unexplainable sounds and worries that he may have underestimated the woman in black.

‘…piercing through the surface of my dreams, came the terrified whinnying of the pony and the crying and calling of that child over and over, while I stood, helpless in the mist, my feet held fast, my body pulled back, and while behind me, though I could not see, only sense her dark presence, hovered the woman.’

Thoughts

I quite enjoyed this quick little read and am glad I finally got around to reading it. I love ghost stories even though I tend to scare quite easily… and this book was no exception. The writing was beautiful and vividly creepy and definitely manages to get under your skin even though the real scary parts don’t even start till the latter half of the book. The descriptions were spot on and the whole book is simply eerie even though, in thinking back to it, nothing real huge actually happens. The ghost doesn’t come alive and smother him in his sleep or glue the windows shut or anything absurd like that. Nevertheless I was frightened enough to have to ask my boyfriend to walk upstairs with me to our darkened bedroom after I was finished. He still makes fun of me for that. Lol

Enjoying it as much as I did, I still didn’t give it 5 stars and the only reason for that was because of the ending. It left a bit to be desired for me and was a bit too abrupt for my liking.

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Book Review – The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson

September 3, 2011 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2011 0 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review – The Lantern by Deborah LawrensonThe Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson
Published by Harper on August 9, 2011
Pages: 400
Genres: Gothic, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Sea Garden

four-half-stars

Set in the lush countryside of Provence, Deborah Lawrenson’s The Lantern is an atmospheric modern gothic tale of love, suspicion, and murder, in the tradition of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca. Drawn to a wealthy older man, Eve embarks on a whirlwind romance that soon offers a new life and a new home—Les Genévriers, a charming hamlet amid the fragrant lavender fields of Provence. But Eve finds it impossible to ignore the mysteries that haunt both her lover and the run-down old house. The more reluctant Dom is to tell her about his past, the more she is drawn to it—and to the mysterious disappearance of his beautiful ex-wife. An evocative tale of romantic and psychological suspense, The Lantern masterfully melds past and present, secrets and lies, appearances and disappearances—along with our age-old fear of the dark.

The Lantern is a superbly written and beautiful story that is completely enthralling. I found it hard to put down because the mystery of the story is so fascinating. I found the author’s writing style to be quite wordy at first, but each description causes the scene to unfold as if you were actually experiencing it. I’ve incorporated several lines from the story itself to add some of that descriptiveness to my review and because they were some of my favorite quotes.

The story is about the relationship between Eve and Dom and the life they build together. From the beginning of the story you’re involved in their troubled relationship and the internal conflict that Eve is currently having. Not all is revealed, you’re only given bits and pieces, but it’s quite captivating.

‘Until it happens to you, you don’t know how it will feel to stay with a man who has done a terrible thing. Not to know whether the worst has happened or is yet to come; wanting so badly to trust him now.’

The couple purchases a rural house in the south of France and immediately feels that this was all meant to be somehow.

‘The property drew us in immediately. Not love at first sight, exactly, not as explosive as that: more a
deep, promising undertow, as if it had been waiting for us, and we for it.’

As much as they love the property, the more time they spend there the more the uneasiness begins to set in.

‘The longer we stayed, the less it seemed to belong to us.’

When Eve sees an apparition of a woman on the property, her mind is unable to fully comprehend what she had just seen.

‘Everyone wants answers and tidy conclusions, but in life they don’t always materialize. You settle for the best outcome you can manage, and accept that you can’t explain everything. The subconscious mind sometimes makes surreal connections, like the ones in dreams. Tricks of the light were all around.’

As the story continues, the story begins switching back and forth between the past and the present, between Eve and Bénédicte. Bénédicte is a young woman who in the past used to live in the same house that Eve and Dom currently reside at. The past and the present ultimately collide and the revelation behind all the constant mystery is quite intriguing.

Throughout the story the author constantly keeps your interest as she’ll throw you a tid bit here and there about what may be potentially going on, but will leave it at that, a simple sentence. This is a great novel to do as a read along (speaking from personal experience as I read this with another) because there is an enormous amount of information that is easier to sort out if you’re able to discuss with someone.

The books ending wrapped all the questions culminated throughout reading this book quite nicely even though it ended up being not quite what I had originally thought.

‘All of which goes to show how dangerous it is to assume connections where there are none, to link events that have no link, to want tidy storytelling when real life is not like that, to draw too much on the imagination when it is so often misleading.’

Lovely novel.

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