A haunting tale of apparitions, a cursed manor house, and two generations of women determined to discover the truth, by the author of The Ghost Writer.
Sell the Hall unseen; burn it to the ground and plow the earth with salt, if you will; but never live there…
Constance Langton grows up in a household marked by death, her father distant, her mother in perpetual mourning for Constance's sister, the child she lost. Desperate to coax her mother back to health, Constance takes her to a séance; perhaps she will find comfort from beyond the grave. But the meeting has tragic consequences. Constance is left alone, her only legacy a mysterious bequest that will blight her life.
So begins this brilliant and gripping novel, a dark mystery set in late-Victorian England. It is a world of apparitions, of disappearances and unnatural phenomena, of betrayal and blackmail and black-hearted villains - and of murder. Constance's bequest comes in two parts: a house and a mystery. Years before, a family disappeared at Wraxford Hall, a decaying mansion in the English countryside with a sinister reputation. Now the Hall belongs to Constance, and she must descend into the darkness at the heart of the Wraxford mystery to find the truth - even at the cost of her life.
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Great Victorian Period Read
I think that the multiple narration, broken into sections worked well and added to the books overall appeal.
None that I can think of.
I really liked the narration of the male characters, but felt the author has a wonderful grasp of the female characters.
It did keep me wanting to listen to more once the story got going. It was a little slow to build, but got better as it went on.
For a girl, growing up in the Victorian era has its own difficulties, but for Constance Langton things are far more ghastly than properly worn bustles and guarded reputations. Her mother is in an everlasting state of mourning over the loss of her youngest daughter Alma and her father is as detached, cold and indifferent as a wet fish. Forlorn, Constance makes a desperate attempt to bring her mother peace by arranging a séance’ which leads to Constance finding herself all alone in the world.
An unexpected inheritance befalls her in the form of an old, dilapidated and crumbling mansion with an ominous history. Constance becomes obsessed with disentangling the web of peculiar and eerie happenings the mansion has held for several generations and in doing so, finds her mind on the precipice of insanity and her life in mortal peril.
The author, John Harwood, does an excellent job of portraying the female character in this Victorian setting, which makes it easy to identify with the characters and follow the storyline with eager interest. The twists and turns of the mysteries surrounding the mansion and Constance’s life bind into a clever, believable conclusion.
I listened to the audio version of the book and I felt the narration was good although it did take me a bit to warm up to one of the narrators. There is one scene in particular where I felt the narration was too loud (even though shouting was taking place), but overall the multiple narrators introduced in separate parts worked quite well.
The story does take its time to build, but is worth the wait. I would recommend this book for its grasp of the era, the intricate story that beseeches being pieced together along with it skillful narration.
Great narration lifts up an average story
All three narrators were very good. They easily moved between characters and had excellent pacing.
I'm not sure. The plot was complicated, but not difficult to predict.
All three are consummate professionals.
Very predictable gothic romance.