CRUEL SISTER by Deborah Grabien


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A modern-day design researcher is haunted by a tortured troubadour and a whimpering lassie.

Ringan Laine, whose hobby is architectural reconstruction, agrees to consult with his girlfriend Penny’s brother and sister-in-law on the plans for their Tudor-inspired house in north London, just across the river from one of Henry VIII’s magnificent palaces. Unfortunately, following WWII, a bomb detonated on the land, killing a soldier and leaving a large crater. When Ringan nears it, the earth suddenly feels spongy, he sees a girl in early-16th-century dress begging for sanctuary and he hears hounds barking at her heels. Usually it’s Penny who is the sensitive one of the pair (The Famous Flower of Serving Men, 2004, etc.), but she and her acting troupe are off in Italy, so it’s Ringan who becomes obsessed with, and ultimately possessed by, astral visitors from the Tudor court. It takes all the resources of Oxford’s Bodleian Library to explain the fate of twin sisters and the man who loved one of them and was duped by the other—and to release Ringan from their thrall.

Worth reading if only for the fine glimpse of the Bodleian’s vaulted ceiling. And it just might make you spare a kind thought for poor Anne of Cleves.

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 2006
ISBN: 0-312-35757-5
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Dunne/Minotaur
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2006


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