One of the things that I liked about that film was how the house and ghosts both haunted the characters and this book does something similar and the effect is memorable and so wonderfully suspenseful!
In 1919, Kitty Weekes, pretty, resourceful, and on the run, falsifies her background to obtain a nursing position at Portis House, a remote hospital for soldiers left shell-shocked by the horrors of the Great War.
Hiding the shame of their mental instability in what was once a magnificent private estate, the patients suffer from nervous attacks and tormenting dreams. But something more is going on at Portis House—its plaster is crumbling, its plumbing makes eerie noises, and strange breaths of cold waft through the empty rooms. It’s known that the former occupants left abruptly, but where did they go? And why do the patients all seem to share the same nightmare, one so horrific that they dare not speak of it?
Kitty finds a dangerous ally in Jack Yates, an inmate who may be a war hero, a madman… or maybe both. But even as Kitty and Jack create a secret, intimate alliance to uncover the truth, disturbing revelations suggest the presence of powerful spectral forces. And when a medical catastrophe leaves them even more isolated, they must battle the menace on their own, caught in the heart of a mystery that could destroy them both (summary from Goodreads).
This book was different in some ways than her other books. I loved that the house itself was a big part of the ghost story. There were other ghosts but the house was like this sinister presence that truly added a lot of horror to the book itself. Again, her books are paranormal boarding on horror but not to the point of terrifying. I would say more like spine tingling and creepy. This one was a little more horror but again, not over done where it would only appeal to certain readers. I really liked that the ghosts and house in this book weren’t you usual ‘help put me to rest ghosts’. One of the ghosts and sinister in the extreme and I like how that keeps readers scared but yet pushes them to want to know why the ghost and the house are so dangerous.
Also the idea of madness was much more the main gothic element than ghosts. Turn of the century or Victorian era madhouses really appeal to me when it comes to gothic elements. There is something about the setting which really makes me as a reader feel uneasy. Are the patients really crazy or are they made crazy from the ‘treatments’? That’s exactly what I got in this book and I was on edge and wasn’t sure if I could trust the characters…..I loved how that worked together with the ghosts to create a memorable and extra suspenseful gothic read. That alone earned 5 stars from me!
The complexity of the romance really hit a high mark. Jack is a patient in the madhouse by his own choice which makes readers wonder how the romance will work. Kitty was equally flawed and not your normal heroine. She’s a liar with a checkered past and she has zero scruples when it comes to saving herself. You don’t want to like her but yet you do…she’s sympathetic and you can see how putting her and Jack together quickly developed into a romance. They are both flawed and complex which makes the romance work for me.
Overall this is one of my favorite books by her and I absolutely loved it. I read it in a day and was sad when it ended. I feel like I’ve really gotten to read something special when I read one of her books. I love how she uses the gothic elements to create a unique story for readers, again she reminds me of a modern Victoria Holt and I absolutely love it. I will gladly read any of her books. I am sad now because it’s so hard to find really good gothic/romantic suspense writers. It’s just not a genre that a lot of people write in, so as always I am on the lookout for similar books. If anyone has any recommendations I am all ears!
Paperback, 374 pagesPublished April 1st 2014 by NAL
- Review copy provided by: Personal collection
This book counts toward: NA
- Hosted by: NA
- Books for Challenge Completed: NA
Recommendation: 5 out of 5
Genre: Gothic lit, historical fiction, mystery, historical mystery, romance
Memorable lines/quotes: NA