Newlywed Jessie Tucker hopes a move to the countryside will help her find her footing with her teenage stepdaughter, Bella, who seems haunted by memories of her late mother, Mandy.
Yet the move to Applecote Manor, far from the bustle of London, instead raises more ghosts. Over 50 years ago, in the mid-1950s, 12-year-old Audrey Wilde simply disappeared from the grounds of Applecote, leaving her parents, Sybil and Perry, devastated and housebound. Five years after Audrey’s vanishing, Sybil’s glamorous, scandalous, and financially pinched sister-in-law, Bunny, takes a job in Marrakesh, so Sybil takes in her four nieces for the summer, a summer that will drive inexorably toward tragedy. Flora, the beguiling 17-year-old eldest sister, attracts the attentions of both Tom, an easygoing young man headed for a military career, and Harry, his wealthy, rakishly handsome friend. Outraged at the unfairness of her sister’s monopoly on male attention, second sister Pam spends the summer vying for Tom’s eye. Margot, who's 15, finds herself drawn to Harry, who gazes at her even as he courts Flora. Yet Margot also bears an uncanny resemblance to Audrey, which draws her into Sybil’s unsettling fantasies that Audrey will return. Young Dot, only 12, hovers, neglected by her lovesick sisters. Chase (Black Rabbit Hall, 2016) shifts between Margot’s and Bella’s investigations into Audrey’s disappearance, eerily escalating the tension as clues surface across time, including a cache of rain-smeared letters, a heart-shaped button, and broken spectacles. In the 21st-century sections, told in the third person from Jessie's perspective, the atmosphere thickens as a mysterious woman lurks on the edges of Applecote’s grounds, and Bella isolates herself in Audrey’s old bedroom, now riddled with relics of Mandy. In Margot’s first-person sections, the investigation leads to a shocking night of violence.
A bewitching gothic tale of sisters and secrets.