Category Archives: Gothic Horror

The Edge of Dark

The Edge of Dark

by Pamela Hartshorne

by Pamela Hartshorne

Jane and Roz live very different lives.

Jane, tricked into a loveless marriage, struggles to live up to the expectations of her husband and mother-in-law. Her life is full of secrets and promises she is determined to keep, not least the one made to her dying sister.

Roz has no family of her own, or so she believes. Her past has hidden secrets that she is only just beginning to come to terms with. She has no memory of the tragedy that killed the rest of her family, but her new job at the newly restored Holmwood House in York triggers disturbing memories.

The one thing that they do have in common is the secrets that lie beneath the surface.  Their lives in inexplicably linked to Holmwood House and its tragic history, but separate by 400 years.

For Roz, taking the job in York is an opportunity to strike out on her own and developed the career she has been dreaming of. It is also an opportunity to reconnect with the city where she was born. She is not looking for answers to her past, but entering Holswood Housen triggers some very disturbing memories. The only thing is, they are not her own. 

Jane’s life in Elizabethan England is far removed from the freedoms and privileges enjoyed by Roz. But they are not the only players in this malicious game. Jane is not the only one reaching across the centuries.

The Edge of Dark is a tale full of hidden secrets, broken promises and faded dreams. Pamela Hartshorne’s knowledge and understanding of Elizabethan England, and particularly York, gives the narrative and characters real authenticity. But it is the intensity of the plot and the sense of menace that really make this book stand out. 

As the story switches between Jane and Roz’s stories, there is a real sense of foreboding. From the Prologue to the last page, the story never lets up. There is mystery, deceit, secrets and dark supernatural forces at play, all in very capable hands.

A very enjoyable read.

 

Once Upon a River

Once Upon A River

Once Upon A River, by Diane Setterfield

by Diane Setterfield

Life on the Thames could be hard, but the people who lived by and along it learned to respect its mercurial nature.

Set in the early 1869s, a time of enlightenment and scientific progress, the old ways of the river folk compete with the new.

For the regulars of the Swan Inn, retelling old stories of the river is a way of life. These stories are often embellished in the retelling but the sense of awe and mystery always remains the same. Little did they suspect that on the wet solstice night they themselves would become part of one of the river’s strangest tales.

As they tell their tales a stranger bursts in, carrying the drowned corpse of a young girl. Hours later the child is very much alive, turning a simple tragedy into something much more intriguing and mysterious. Over the course of the following year, the true identity of the girl (who does not speak) remains in question. Everyone who meets her wants to protect her. Well, almost everyone. She seems to reach into the hearts of those with compassion, but in a small few, she becomes a commodity – a means to a villainous end.

At the heart of this compelling story are two families, each laying claim to the child. s she the baby kidnapped from her bed two years earlier or is she the little girl thought drowned by her distraught mother that very day?

For everyone involved, the child’s presence opens up doors and half-forgotten past events unearth secrets that will ultimately lead to new revelations. 

Almost as mysterious as the girl herself and the links that bind the characters. It is as if some unseen hand has brought them all to this place and time. Through the child they find not only their own salvation but also a reason to live and new hope for the future. 

Dark, Mysterious and beautifully told, Once Upon A River is a brooding mystery that kept me enthralled from the first line to the last. It has as many twists and turns as the river itself, and a comforting continuity that links all the different elements together.

A great book by a natural storyteller. Her stories may be dark, but there is a lightness to the telling and a sense of hope that make them easy to read and to believe.
She is a writer whose books I can thoroughly recommend.