by Pamela Hartshorne
House of Shadows is a story of possession, betrayal, discovery, love and redemption. It is a ghost story without ghosts – or at least not in the way you might expect. This is possession, but not in the Exorcist, spinning head and strange voices way. The supernatural element of this compelling tale is much more subtle than that.
It is really the story of two women, separated by four centuries but united by their love and need to reconnect with their sons. Both women find themselves being manipulated by those they trust with dramatic and tragic results.
When Kate Vavasour wakes in the hospital she remembers nothing of her life, her family or her friends. Everyone around her is a stranger. She doesn’t even know why she is in the hospital and no one seems in a hurry to explain it to her. When her memories do begin to come back it is very quickly obvious that that can’t be hers. In fact, they are the memories if Isabel Vavasour who had lived and died four hundred years before.
Kate now has to not only reconnect with her own memories, rebuilding her relationships with those closest to her but also try to make some sense of her visions of Isabel’s ultimately tragic life.
As I said, this is not a ghost story as such Isabel’s presence in Kate’s life is a plea for help and as Kate begins to understand this, her fear is replaced by a dogged determination to find out all she can to answer Isabel’s questions about her son. What she doesn’t know is it was that very singlemindedness that landed her in hospital in the first place.
House of Shadows is a tense and thrilling novel that kept me gripped right from the start. It was easy to piece together what was really going on with all the characters. At the heart of the book are two young mothers, both married into the Vavasour family, and both driven by a deep and enduring love for their husbands and sons. But ultimately, both are blinded by unquestioning loyalty to friends who have their own agendas.
An excellent story very well told.