by Wendy Webb
You just know that when your hero finds themselves in a large old house in the middle of nowhere, things are going to get a little spooky. Whilst that may be a given, the intriguing twists and turns of “The Vanishing” certainly isn’t. Julia Bishop’s life is a mess. Through no fault of her own, she finds herself totally alone and facing ruin when a total stranger offers her a lifeline in the shape of a home and a job. It may sound too good to be true, and any rational person might question the offer, but with nowhere else to turn, Julia accepts and twenty-four hours later finds herself at Havenwood, the Sinclaire’s rambling family estate close to the banks of Lake Superior.
Her new job is as a companion to horror novelist Amaris Sinclaire. Once famous, she is now a recluse who the rest of the world believes to be dead. But coming face to face with a dead author is the least of the surprises that await Julia as she learns more not only about the estate but also about her own past.
From the very first day, Julia begins to suspect that things are not as they should be. ON the surface everyone is friendly and she feels accepted as if part of the family, but something isn’t quite right. She begins to see visions that she at first puts down to not taking her medication, but then begins to believe have a more sinister origin. It doesn’t help when all she gets from those around her are platitudes and reassurances.
No one denies that the house is haunted. The question is what or who by, and what does it have to do with Julia who has never been to the house before. Or has she?
Like her previous books, Wendy weaves a tangled web (sorry about that!) that left me gripped and fascinated right to the very end. For me, The Vanishing is further proof, if it were needed, that Wendy Webb is a great storyteller and a master of the gothic horror genre.
by Wendy Webb
Raised on America’s east coast by her devoted father, Hallie James has always known she had no other family, that her mother had died in a house fire thirty years ago, and that her life was never going to amount to anything special. With a failed marriage to her credit and her beloved father losing his fight with dementia, Hallie is in need of a new direction in her life, even if she doesn’t know it herself.
But when out of the blue, she receives a mysterious letter from celebrated photographer Madlyn Crane, Hallie is forced to question everything she thought she knew about herself and her father.
Her quest for answers takes her to the remote island on the Great Lakes that was home to the strange woman who claimed to be her mother. Once there she soon discovers that her own disappearance 30 years earlier is not the only mystery the strange island has to offer.
From the moment Hallie arrives inexplicable things begin to happen and as she begins to learn the truth about her family (and herself) the sense of danger becomes very real.
From the tragedy of losing both her mother and her father in such quick succession leaves Hallie very much alone, but not for long. Her return to the island rekindles a friendship she had long forgotten and gives the grown-up Halycon something worth fighting for.
The Tale of Halcyon Crane is a wonderfully gothic tale that is both captivating and haunting. The subtle way the Wendy Webb tells the story gives the book a deceptively gentle feel. There is plenty of ghostly goings on, strange voices, witches and disturbing dreams, but it never gets gory or over the top. The light touch Webb gives the story is one of the reasons it works so well.
Mrs Webb is a good storyteller with a real understanding of her chosen genre. This is the second of her book I have read and it has proven without a doubt that she is one to watch.
by Wendy Webb
Every now and again there comes a book that takes me very much by surprise and this is definitely one of them. The Fate of Mercy Alban is written in the fine old tradition of Gothic Horror. There are dark secrets, unexplained happenings and more than a hint of the supernatural. Combine these elements with a smooth and easy writing style and clever plot twists and you have the makings of an exceptional book.
The story itself centres around the Alban family, [articuarly Grace Alban who has returned to the family home after twenty years and is almost immediately drawn into a mystery spanning back to the 1950s. Following the sudden death of her mother, Grace returns to the family home on the banks of Lake Superior to arrange the funeral and settle the estate. But what she discovers very quickly leads Grace to face not only events from her own past that have kept her away but also the darker secrets that surround events of the summer of 1956.
Alban Househas stod on the banks of Lake Superior for over 100 years and in that time there have been enough tragedy to have led to talk of the Alban Curse. Whilst Grace may not believe in such things, events at the house soon begin to make her wonder.
Uncovering a bundle of old letters sets Grace on a course that brings her face-to-face with a secret that has been kept by her family for over 50 years. but she is not the only one trying to uncover the truth about that fateful summer night.
There is an underlying sense of terror that runs throughout this book that makes it one of the most compelling books I have read for some time. The interplay between the characters and the truth is painstakingly revealed make it almost impossible to put the book down. Whilst it does not have the same pace as the likes of King or Herbert, there is no let up in the drive to find the answers. A really good read from an author I am very pleased to have been introduced to.