Sarah Piper, a self-proclaimed modern woman living in London, finds herself living a ghost story in this post–World War I tale.
A temp agency offers Sarah a job with a mysterious, handsome writer, Alistair Gellis, who carries scars from the recent Great War. His postwar passion finds him writing travel books—as dry and academic as he can make them—about various haunted sites in England, but his interest is piqued by the case of a haunted barn in the small village of Waringstoke; a young maidservant hanged herself in her employer’s barn and has been making mischief and threats ever since, most recently terrorizing a local vicar when he is called to perform an exorcism. According to her former employer, Mrs. Clare, Maddy, the ghost, hates men, so if Alistair is to verify the haunting for his next book, Sarah will have to confront the angry spirit. Feeling adrift in her life and intrigued by Alistair’s company, Sarah agrees to the job, embarking on a terrifying journey into the damaged psyche of Maddy Clare. Capable of manipulating her environment and producing hallucinations, Maddy is not resting quietly. Not only must Sarah and Matthew Ryder, Alistair’s tough and war-scarred friend, race to discover the truth behind Maddy’s life and death, they are soon caught up in Maddy’s troubling obsession with Alistair. Through fog, darkness, nightmares and fire, Sarah and Matthew fight to save their friend while also succumbing to their own heated attraction. Along the way, they meet all the mysterious figures one would hope to find in a small English town: the brash new-money aristocrat and his unhappy, beautiful wife; the distrustful gravedigger; the man who watches outside Sarah’s window. And of course, Maddy, the one who connects them all and is either seeking peace—or revenge.
A chilling start gives way to a more predictable ending, but fans of the modern Gothic novel will enjoy filling up a few creepy hours.