Sunday, 27 March 2016

Abigale Hall - Lauren Forry - Dark and spooky

My Review

This is a dark and disturbing horror story, somewhat gothic in style with a definite feel of similar books by Daphne du Maurier. It makes a compelling page turner but is much gloomier and more depressing than I imagined. If you like sombre, sinister, suspenseful tales full of foreboding this one is for you.

Abigale Hall, set in the gloomy aftermath of World War 2, in days of food shortages, job shortages and the return of many walking wounded to civilian life,  tells the story of 2 orphan sisters, teenager Eliza and her younger sister Rebecca living with an Aunt. Their life is pretty grim, living in the repercussion of their parents deaths, but bearable. Eliza works in a cinema, has a boyfriend Peter and seems devoted to her little sister, whom it soon becomes apparent has some disturbing problems of her own.

Suddenly Eliza finds she and her sister are banished from their Aunts home in London to a remote part of Wales where live in jobs have been secured for them both, helping the dreadful Mrs Pollard, housekeeper in an ancient, typically spooky, crumbling, cursed mansion.

As the girls life there unfolds and their situation becomes so awful that their previous mundane existence in London seems like a distant dream, the story moves between this ramshackle pile, the local village of Plentynunig where locals mutter of curses and shun the girls, and back in London where hapless Peter ponders his girlfriends sudden departure and tries, fruitlessly to discover her whereabouts getting himself in ever deeper water.

The story is a real page turner because I kept wondering what was going to unfold next - and whatever does is NEVER pleasant! There is a creeping sense of unease which builds and develops into an overriding theme of gloom and nastiness, I don't think I found one uplifting momenet throughout the whole book! From discovering about the death of the girls parents, to finding out whats going on in the old house things get darker and grimmer. So many deaths occur I lost count and everything which unfolds has an underlying nastiness of decay and corruption.

From roomsful of grim defaced books, dead mice carried around in pockets, to horrible apparitions, strange ghost lights and history of dead and missing girls the book carries you relentlessly towards its awful conclusion where you just know everyone's not going to come out of it smiling and smelling of roses, or even alive!

The house is not called Abigale Hall, which confused me somewhat, it's called Thornecroft and Abigale Hall is just an area of the rambling mansion.

This is a well written and competent gothic horror story for afficionados of the genre and anyone who likes to go to bed shivering and looking over their shoulder.

I was kindly provided with an advance copy for review purposes by the publishers Black and White Publishing.

It is due for publication at the end of April and can be pre ordered now.

The blurb ....

A house steeped in secrets.

A lie they must escape…

On a foggy night in 1947, orphaned sisters Eliza and Rebecca are banished from London by their aunt and sent to work at an isolated Welsh mansion. They are to clean and do housework for the secretive owner. Soon, rumours of missing maidservants and a ghost that stalks the deserted halls begin to unsettle them. And wandering through the mansion’s dusty rooms, Eliza finds blood-spattered books, crumpled photographs and portraits of a mysterious woman – clues to a terrible past that might just become her future.

As Eliza unravels a mystery that has endured for decades, troubled Rebecca falls under the spell of the cruel housekeeper Mrs Pollard, who will stop at nothing to protect the house’s secrets. And unless the sisters can uncover the truth, a terrible fate awaits them.

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