Pages: 366 pages
Published: January 24, 2012
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
Genre: Fiction & Literature, Mystery & Thrillers, Horror
Amid the terror of the Second World War, seventeen-year-old Eliza and her troubled little sister Rebecca have had their share of tragedy, having lost their mother to the Blitz and their father to suicide. Forced to leave London to work for the mysterious Mr. Brownwell at Abigale Hall, they soon learn that the worst is yet to come. The vicious housekeeper, Mrs. Pollard, seems hell-bent on keeping the ghostly secrets of the house away from the sisters and forbids them from entering the surrounding town—and from the rumors that circulate about Abigale Hall. When Eliza uncovers some blood-splattered books, ominous photographs, and portraits of a mysterious woman, she begins to unravel the mysteries of the house, but with Rebecca falling under Mrs. Pollard’s spell, she must act quickly to save her sister, and herself, from certain doom.
I am not a big horror fan. I avoid very scary, horrific movies with a ten foot pole. Bu the cover of Abigale Hall called to me and after reading the blurb, something was telling me that this one will be an interesting read. I am glad to say that I was not disappointed.
When Eliza and her younger sister, Rebecca, are both suddenly uprooted from the bustling city of London to the quiet, albeit creepy, Welsh countryside, they have no idea what is in store for them. They find themselves working at a manor house, Abigale Hall, a place that is filled with a dark past and ghostly secrets. At every turn, Eliza discovers the dark deeds of the treacherous house and she does everything in her power to save her sister and herself from the devastating fate that hovers over this house.
For a Victorian mystery, it has all the elements that are needed: a house with mysterious origins, gothic horror, intrigue and psychological warfare. These great factors are what made this book one interesting read. I thought that the horrific violence would deter me and make me stop reading the book. but the descriptive imagery was so well done and not over the top, in comparison to other mystery novels I have read. Abigale Hall kept me hooked throughout the story. At every page turn, I anticipated what new secret I would uncover. My mind was continuously racked at trying to discover what secret lurked inside Abigale Hall. However, I do have to say I was a little disappointed at the bombshell. Don’t get me wrong. I was shocked and, of course, creeped out. But with the massive buildup the plot line gave, I was just expecting the reveal to be more astounding. Bu that doesn’t mean I was not left shaken and in awe at what was revealed to me.
However, the plot line was a little clunky. The author was trying to create an atmosphere that will allow the reader to answer the questions and give them a chance to solve the puzzle. this method can also leave readers confused and frustrated. it worked out in the end because I had a hard time putting the book down. My quest to solve the mystery and my thirst for knowledge overruled the need for a consistent plot line. And I believe that the author did that on purpose.
The story takes place after the end of World War II. Some readers would consider this event to be immaterial to the story. However, as I read, I found myself making connections to the characters and the effects of a war on the human mind. Almost all the characters had a break with reality. WWII left a lot of damage in its path, and I am not just talking about structural damage. Some of the characters’ actions are inexcusable but it does show the lengths of how far a person will go in order to survive. This novel may have supernatural elements but I think it is more about the psyche of the human mind rather than a creepy house in a deserted village.
With a detached and sometimes disconnecting plot lie, this Victorian novel will have you on the edge of your seat. This gothic story is perfect for fans of Shirley Jackson and Gillian Flynn.
Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars