In a hidden corner of the Welsh countryside, beneath the dark green hills and stretching deep underground, lies a secret. Though few know of its existence, all feel its presence, for above this secret rests a house.
In the second World War, Rebecca and her seventeen-year-old big sister Eliza lost their parents, one to the Blitz, the other to suicide. They live with their aunt in London, but soon find themselves swept away to a Welsh mansion in a village ripe with rumours and curses and, bit by bit, these rumours become all-consuming.
Abigale Hall hooks you in. The first two lines alone set a sense of the suspense and the fact it’s got some quirky turns of phrase, and once you start the sisters’ story, you’re invested. Why were they sent away? Will they be found by those left behind? What the hell is going on in that house?
Death hangs on the edge of the pages; if the curse and murmurings are anything to go by, the sisters find themselves in a tentative position, and you turn one at a time, wondering if this is the page where it leaps out and takes hold, wondering how their relationship will alter further because of it. I suppose that’s why I really liked it and whizzed through it – the curse lingers over the town, it lingers on the pages. It’s unsettling, it makes you wonder, and when you think you’re onto what that secret is, chances are you’ll find out you’re entirely wrong, time and time again.
There were times when I wanted more background on the family and the War, because that’s such an interesting era and backstory, but by the time you got to the end, it all kind of made sense without that, although there are plenty of snatched moments to ail the curiosity. But really, it’s Eliza and Rebecca versus the world, each other, and then some in between, and I liked it.
February 2016 | Black & White Publishing