The first thing that caught my eye about this book was the cover. It’s not everyday that I see a thriller cover with bright pink lettering and I thought it was unique and eye-catching!
Beyond the cover that I couldn’t take my eyes off of….I also liked the sound of the setting. An old manor house nestled in the craggy Scottish highlands…..yes please! You all know how much I love books that are atmospheric and haunting!
So I was instantly drawn to this book and wanted to see if it would be something that I would love. Elliot has written another book, The French Girl, which I seem to recall hearing about and thinking that maybe this would be a fun new author to check out. So when this one came up for review, I thought ‘why not?’
Ailsa Calder has inherited half of a house. The other half belongs to a man who disappeared without a trace twenty-seven years ago. Her father.
Leaving London behind to settle her mother’s estate, Ailsa returns to her childhood home nestled amongst the craggy peaks of the Scottish Highlands, accompanied by the half-sister she’s never taken the time to get to know.
With the past threatening to swallow her whole, she can’t escape the claustrophobic feeling that the house itself is watching her, or ignore how animals take care never to set foot within its garden.
And when Ailsa confronts the first nighttime intruder, she sees that the manor’s careless rugged beauty could cost her everything (summary from Goodreads).
First of all, let’s just say that I basically read this book in like a handful of sittings. It was engaging and I couldn’t help but reach for it every time I turned around. It wasn’t that the mystery itself was fast paced….if I’m being honest, it was a bit on the slow side, but I found that I loved the writing style, the house, and atmosphere so much that I just wanted to keep reading to find out more.
I liked that this book combined a number of different things—family secrets, a missing person case, a ghost story, and the gothic. It is a book that surprised me in many ways. It was full of characterization and as a reader, I really got a sense for the characters and their purpose in the story. As I said while the mystery itself is more on the slow side, the characters keep you interested when you start to wonder why everything is taking so long to build.
I personally love gothic fiction, typically I prefer more ‘classical gothic’ and when I say that, I mean more historical gothic if that makes sense. But I was thrilled that this book was a modern gothic and there were so many things that made it a wonderful read for me in that genre alone. The Manse (the house) was a character unto itself and one of my favorite gothic troupes.
I ended up going with a 4 star review for this one. While I loved so much about this story, I also wished that the mystery wasn’t such a slow burn. I would have liked a little more pep, but on the whole it was a wonderful read and definitely worth the wait.
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