This is a spooky, atmospheric ghost story of epic proportions.
Filled to the brim with dark encounters, secrets and mysteries shrouded in a dark grey house, architecturally varied. “The house was an incoherent fusion of architectural styles.” Jacobean, Gothic, Victorian and Venetian, set off by “a menagerie of gruesome gargoyles.” The house, as stated on the cover, is “never at Peace.”
We meet Stella, come to understand she was active during the war, and suffered a trauma that had her shipped home. We eventually learn her story but we do know she is considered broken by her doctor. Instead of being sent to an asylum, she is invited to stay with her sister at Greyswick during the sisters pregnancy.
I was fascinated about Stella and her loss, her role in the loss and the grief which took hold. Much of it is alluded to throughout the book but it doesn’t all come to light until she meets Mr Sheers, a man with a keen interest in ghosts. Mr Sheers is invited to ensure the house is free from ghostly goings on.
Stella’s sister is complaining of a child crying, toy soldiers found in her bed and strange happenings at night. Believing that a child ghost inhabits the house , Madeleine is showing signs of distress and the house are worried about her and her mental state.
Intense storytelling, a plot that quickens and thickens and superb characters build this into a formidable story. Stella begins to see the evidence of Madeleine’s theories and starts to investigate. However, Madeleine’s mother in law, her companion and housekeeper are doing all they can to prove the theories wrong, even making Madeleine’s husband come home on leave.
There were so many moments when I wanted Stella and her sister Madeleine to pack up and leave Greyswick, forget the mystery, the darkness and find a happier home. Of course there would be no story in that!
The formidable housekeeper, Mr Henge, her employer Lady Brightwell and companion Miss Scott seem sinister, full of wrongdoings and always up to something. They meet in secret, whisper and ensure Stella feels most unwelcome. From not believing Madeleine and Stella, to calling Stella’s doctor, they seem to be pushing everyone out of the house.
What reason could they have for protecting the house and its inhabitants? Read this book to find out- I can promise you won’t be disappointed!
It was gripping and although I couldn’t finish it in one sitting (it is 450 pages), I was drawn back to the story again and again.
A brilliant, immersive ghost story perfect for chilly Autumn evenings with a fire, light and hot drink!