Menaces past and present haunt a remote mill town.
After an unspecified tragedy, Antonia Weston sets out to make a new life in quaint Amberwood, which reminds her distinctly of Trollope. She rents the small Charity Cottage in the shadow of Quire House, a lavish estate turned industrial museum. Also on the grounds are the abandoned Twygrist Mill and a former asylum called Latchkill. Antonia immediately senses a vague evil but tries to dismiss her fears. Multiple plot threads fill in details of her past. There are also two other suspenseful stories that fit together in a teasingly obscure way. In the first story, Antonia has been in prison for five years for killing an unnamed man. In the second, set some time in the more distant past, a predatory lesbian named Thomasina seduces nubile young Maud, who values her friendship but feels ambivalent about sex. In the third, a young woman named Donna has an unhealthy attachment to her brother Don and crosses the line into a physical intimacy that makes her dangerously possessive. In order to get a child, Thomasina entices a reprobate named Simon to impregnate Maud, then murders him. Antonia, meanwhile, crosses paths with Don and Donna in her former life as a psychiatrist.
Rayne (A Dark Dividing, 2006, etc.) writes with impressive authority, moving seamlessly through multiple perspectives, her expertly balanced prose creating sustained suspense.