A gothic ghost story set during the First World War.
In the traditional style there is the spooky old stately home with its quirky design and creaks; the surly, large and masculine housekeeper who appears from the dark corners silently gliding in at the most inappropriate times; the dastardly lord of the manor; the staid Victorian doctor; the romance that ended in tragedy; secrets, mystery and fear; the damsel in distress.
However, the damsel, despite having been treated for an emotional breakdown (depression) is strong, determined and forthright. She sarcastically says why women cannot vote and likes to have a sneaky cigarette now and again. Plus she is set on discovering who or what is causing the ghostly goings on.
In a similar way, the story is balanced by demonstrating other explanations for the apparent supernatural aspects, which makes the ending less predictable. Although, in a tale such as this, there can only be one of two endings: the ghosts are real or they are not. Still, it is an interesting journey.
There are a couple of stereotyped characters (the housekeeper being the most obvious) but there are others sympathetically drawn. The protagonist's maid is a favourite. She also serves as a contrast to the attitudes and treatment of the different social classes during the early part of twentieth century Britain.
The diction is sometimes elevated in keeping with the gothic literature style but sometimes the phrasing is very modern. Overall it is a well written book and doesn't ramble too much, the descriptive scenes are adequate, the spooky tension is good. The climax is gripping if a little predictable with a nice little feature at the end.
A good read, highly recommended.
Published by HQ on 31 October 2019. Advanced review copy supplied by the publisher.
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