A young boy's mother goes away in the night without saying a word, leaving him under the care of a stern housekeeper. But so much time passes that Samuel begins to think she didn't leave him at all, but rather something more nefarious happened—and someone is covering it up.
I love the idea of this book, but it didn't work for me. The good news is that it is a very quick, one-sitting type read that doesn't ask to be drawn out.
The comparisons to Shirley Jackson and Daphne du Maurier lean solely on the fact that this is a gothic novel in a spooky old house. There is none of Jackson's deft character work and precise observations or du Maurier's florid and overwhelmingly beautiful prose. Don't go into this book expecting an interesting, classic, or stylistic tale like those authors offer.
The story stumbles repetitively along to a conclusion that is ultimately disappointing, not to mention confusing. The whole point of the book is to put the reader in Samuel's shoes and have us wondering along with him whether his mother is dead, who is involved, or whether everything is just as the housekeeper says. But Samuel is a child and is not a quick at putting together clues as any reader will be. This takes a lot of the tension out of the plot, and as any good reader knows, the person who seems the most likely suspect usually didn't do it.
My thanks to Hanover Square Press for sending me an advance copy of this book to read and review.
Associate editor, amateur photdographer, bibliophile, and occasional sleuth.