The weather has turned this week. It’s dark mornings, cosy nights and rain splattered windows abound in Cumbria. So A House of Ghosts was the perfect accompaniment to herald the arrival of Autumn.
Many thanks to Tracy Fenton for inviting me on the blog tour and to Zaffre books for my copy in exchange for an honest opinion.
It is Winter 1917 and the world has been turned upside down.
Thousands of young men have lost their lives, thousands more missing, presumed dead and equal numbers have returned home from The Great War bearing the burden of physical and mental injury. The country is cloaked in a collective grief and interest in spiritualism is on the rise.
Off the coast of England, in an old Monastery Lord and Lady Highmount have assembled an varied group of people together, hoping to contact their sons, recently killed in France.
The group includes not one but two celebrated mediums; Count Orlov, a displaced Russian, whose wife and child were killed as their boat to England fell prey to a U Boat, and Madame Feda. The gathering has also attracted the attention of intelligence officers, who have planted two agents in their midst. The mysterious ‘Donovan’, recently returned from serving in the trenches, a man not easily shaken, and Miss Kate Cartwright.
Kate too has lost her brother in the war and is attending the gathering with her parents, both desperate to contact their fallen son. Kate too is a gifted, if somewhat reluctant, spiritualist. She continually sees spirits all around her, and has inherited the FitzAubrey glass, a mirror which shows the dead and sometimes the future.
Add to the gathering a shell shocked solider, Simms, a cad of an ex-fiancé and a socialist Butler. Then top it off with a raging snow storm and the scene is set for a intriguing and dark tale. Secrets are closely guarded in all quarters and the host of the gathering appears to be enemy number one.
I have to start my reaction to this book by saying that this week has been ‘off the chart hectic’ away from all things blog and book related…
…and I still managed to devour A House of Ghosts in just over 2 nights. It is the kind of book that from the first page gets into your head, under your reading skin and just pushes you forward to the last page.
Very definitely a supernatural tale, there are spirits surrounding the narrative from the earliest chapters, this is also a murder mystery, a family saga and a story filled with intrigue.
As the story unfolds over just a short period of time the action and plot are pacy. There is a feeling of inevitability and tension right from the off. The background of the war years contributes to the feeling that people are behaving in unexpected and unconventional ways. These are unprecedented times which are challenging all members of society, whatever their background and beliefs.
Strong characters and strong emotions carry the story forward. It has a sense of purpose and place with a unique setting and a gripping storyline.
Kate is a strong female lead. Despite the challenges and grief in her life she exhibits a core of steel. She is Donavan’s intellectual equal and the novel is all the stronger for it.
This book is the perfect read for the encroaching storms and long awaited firesides of October. A truly atmospheric read.
And there is more…
To read other reviews of this fabulous book, check out the rest of the blog tour. Details below!