by Barbara Erskine ‧ RELEASE DATE: Aug. 19, 1996
Erskine (Midnight is a Lonely Place, 1994, etc.) provides the requisite thrills and chills in a lively ghost story enriched by all the careful research of good historical fiction. When Jocelyn Grant's husband Luke loses his company--his partner takes off with all the money in their joint business account--the future looks dim for the struggling couple. Until, that is, Jocelyn, who'd been adopted as a child, suddenly learns that she's received an inheritance--the centuries-old family manor that she never knew existed, from a mother she never knew. Belheddon Hall, in Essex, is an imposing, even forbidding house; although the down-at-heels couple are ecstatic at their timely good fortune, their new neighbors' gossip--implying that Belheddon is haunted and that the ghosts show a special interest in young boys--spooks at least Jocelyn, now pregnant with her first child. Joss bears first one son and then, in rapid succession, another, and she becomes increasingly convinced that something evil does linger close by. Luke is highly skeptical and accuses his wife of fanciful imaginings (he even seeks psychiatric help for her), but Joss's best friend David is all too convinced that something does lurk in the Hall, especially when two mysterious, inexplicable deaths occur within days of each other. When Joss and David begin really to explore the history of Belheddon, and to research her mother's life, they uncover more than they bargained for--including a powerful connection to King Edward IV, whose soul, apparently, is not at rest. Jocelyn's family provides a shot of realism as antidote to the eerie goings-on; their concern for Jocelyn as she searches for her past (sister Lyn in particular urges Joss to remember that her real family is the one that raised her) provides an effective counterpoint to the attic wailings and icy white roses of the supernatural scenes. A successful mâ€šlange of family melodrama and fantasy.
Pub Date: Aug. 19, 1996
Page Count: 416
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1996
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