Rated of 5
by Doreen L. (Windsor, CT)
The Past Casts Menacing Shadows
“They should be home.” Upon reading the opening sentence, my heart clutched with anxiety. Who hasn't experienced concern when a loved one is late arriving home? A few pages later Grace, the main character, sees a dark shape on her doorstep. She pulls open the door and stops in shock. Her infant daughter's pram is the sole object in sight. She checks the inside, and, Millie is softly sleeping. But where is Adam, Grace’s husband?
A year later Grace and Millie return to Hawthorn Cottage ostensibly to sort it out, but Grace is determined to find out what happened to Adam. The story unfolds from that point on, introducing numerous characters (almost too many to keep track). The author uses a number of eerie devices to prick our fears, for example, a grandfather clock that stops and starts of its own accord, piercing screeches in the night, a cellar door that slams shut without human intervention, and a creepy, dark attic to name a few.
The first third of the book is the strongest part of the novel and shows the author’s skill using language to evoke atmosphere: “Grace turned and trailed through the cottage, flicking at wall switches, shaking the shadows from their slumbers and driving them out.” Here’s another example, “All around her the shadows of the room languidly stretched themselves out, resettling as the darkness grew.” I especially like the author’s use of Grace’s finding old photographs and objects packed away in the attic and cellar to flashback to earlier times – “The past flew into the present.” Moreover, the description of the moors and the sense of isolation are conveyed to perfection.
In the meantime, I have a few quibbles. Although the literary devices the author uses to generate fear in the reader are successful in the beginning, there are too many throughout the story, and, I began to feel “played.” Second, many of the chapters end with a cliffhanger. It got to the point where this became a bit formulaic. However, these minor issues should not dissuade the reader to pick up book. It certainly kept me guessing what would happen next.