Now that her husband, Jeremy, has bilked thousands of people out of their life savings and committed suicide, Julia Bishop finds herself without friends or prospects, unless you count angry reporters and prison sentences.
When a mysterious but clearly wealthy stranger named Adrian Sinclair offers Julia a job as companion to his mother, she has to consider it. When he mentions that his mother is Amaris Sinclair, she cannot refuse. After all, the famous writer of horror stories inspired Julia’s own novel. And she supposedly died 10 years ago. Adrian offers Julia a chance to vanish, just as his mother did, to the Havenwood estate. Just days after accepting Adrian’s offer, she learns her own home has been burned to the ground, presumably with her in it, and Julia begins to question her decision. Everyone is exceedingly nice to her, as if she were a close friend of the family, and she has full run of the place—Amaris even encourages her to snoop. Drew McCullough is certainly enticing, too. He’s the descendent of Andrew McCullough, who originally built Havenwood as an exact replica of his ancestral home in Scotland. Rumors swirl about his relationship with a spiritual medium, Seraphina, who performed her final séance at the estate and was never heard from again. Pushing her misgivings aside, Julia hopes Havenwood will inspire her to write again. The mansion is clearly home to a few ghosts, such as the little girl singing in the library. It isn’t long, though, before the ghosts become threatening, and Julia’s sense of déjà vu escalates. A brisk thriller tinged with gothic elements, Webb’s (The Fate of Mercy Alban, 2013, etc.) latest builds excitement but neglects tension.
Careening through séances and ghostly encounters leaves the reader breathless but wishing for a slower, spine-tingling swell of suspense.