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Long-term ST contributor Helen Grant made her name with young adult novels with a mystery/thriller element. Her latest novel represents a departure, in that it's aimed at a general audience. It is also her first novel that is also a ghost story, with full-on Gothic elements. Here is the blurb.
Sometimes it's terrifying, loving someone this much...For Fen Munro and her fiancé James, it is a dream come true: an escape from London to a beautiful house in the stunning Perthshire countryside. Barr Dubh house is modern, a building with no past at all. But someone walks the grounds, always dressed in lavender. Under a lichenous stone in an abandoned graveyard, a hideous secret lies buried. And at night, Fen is tormented by horrifying dreams. Someone wants Fen's happiness, and nothing is going to stop them—not even death...
The first chapter sets down a marker for horror. Fen wakes up not in bed with her beloved James, but interred in a coffin wearing an antiquated wedding dress. Fen has her own demons, the result of an unhappy childhood marred by death and loneliness. She rebels against her oppressive parents, gets a job in publishing, and meets exciting new author James. Much to her own surprise they fall in love and buy a house in a part of Scotland the author brings to live with ease (no doubt in part because she lives there).
But of course, the house is haunted. We know from the start, because this is a Gothic novel and Fen is the beautiful, troubled heroine. However, it's also a modern novel and Fen is not just some panicky idiot flitting around in a nightie going 'Eek!' She tries to handle the problem. Admittedly her first attempt is to ignore it, but that's grown-up problem handling in my book. When it doesn't work in this book, Fen starts to try and find out more about the house that stood on the site of her new home, and uncovers a grimly convincing Victorian tale that nods to Dickens and Le Fanu, not to mention Poe.
No spoilers here. Suffice to say that virtue prevails, more or less, and true love finds a way. But the perils of Fen and the way in which she ultimately faces them makes for an absorbing read. This is a very satisfying ghost story by an author who not only knows the genre inside out, but truly loves it.
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