About this book: (from the publisher) Ghosts are everywhere, not just the ghost of Momma in the woods, but ghosts of us too, what we used to be like in those long summers . . .
Amber Alton knows that the hours pass differently at Black Rabbit Hall, her London family’s country estate, where no two clocks read the same. Summers there are perfect, timeless. Not much ever happens. Until, of course, it does.
More than three decades later, Lorna is determined to be married within the grand, ivy-covered walls of Pencraw Hall, known as Black Rabbit Hall among the locals. But as she’s drawn deeper into the overgrown grounds, half-buried memories of her mother begin to surface and Lorna soon finds herself ensnared within the manor’s labyrinthine history, overcome with an insatiable need for answers about her own past and that of the once-happy family whose memory still haunts the estate.
Stunning and atmospheric, this debut novel is a thrilling spiral into the hearts of two women separated by decades but inescapably linked by the dark and tangled secrets of Black Rabbit Hall.
About the author: Eve Chase lives in Oxford, England, with her husband and three children. This is her first novel.
Genre: Fiction/Romantic Gothic Mystery (is that a genre? not quite sure how to peg this one)
If this book were a movie, I would rate it: PG-13 for thematic material and occasional profanity
Content advisory: non-explicit teen sex
Reminds me of: the novels of Kate Morton, Sarah Waters
[Tweet “Chillingly atmospheric with unforgettable characters on every page #BlackRabbitHall @PutnamBooks @EveChase”]
Reflection: There’s nothing like curling up on a rainy day with a chillingly atmospheric novel, and though I don’t tend to soak in Gothic mysteries, when one comes my way I can usually count on enjoying it.
And so I did. Easy to say why in this case, as each character was meticulously drawn–including the house itself, which becomes a living, breathing creature. My heart quickened at the thrumming pace, the dual (and equally compelling) narratives, and I marveled at how well they melded together in the end. The growing mystery drew me relentlessly forward, even as I resisted the shadow cast by the past over the light of the future and the sense of impending catastrophe. Gripping, all of it.
It was in the end maybe just a shade too dark for my taste, and there were a few details in the last chapter or two I would have altered for a more fulfilling takeaway. But I also found shining notes of hope and redemption, and each character promises to remain in memory for some time to come.
Black Rabbit Hall proved itself a riveting read from the start, a cinch to get lost in. And so superbly written. Wow. Truly a notch above most, every line masterfully, thoughtfully crafted, begging to be savored. In her bio, Eve Chase states that she loves a “cracking narrative pace. Words that dance on the tongue. Characters you want to scoop up and put in your pocket for safe keeping.” All of which she has achieved in her debut, with enviable aplomb.
Thanks to G.P. Putnam’s Sons for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.
After words: Some critics have compared Black Rabbit Hall to Daphne de Murier’s Rebecca. Does that compel you to pick it up, or to leave it alone? Why?