By: Lexie Elliott
Published Year: 2019
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way shape or form influenced my opinion.
Summary (Provided by Goodreads): An eerie, old Scottish manor in the middle of nowhere that’s now hers.
Ailsa Calder has inherited half of a house. The other half belongs to a man who disappeared without a trace twenty-seven years ago—her father.
Leaving London behind to settle the inheritance from her mother’s estate, Ailsa returns to her childhood home, nestled amongst the craggy peaks of the Scottish Highlands, joined by the half-sister who’s almost a stranger to her.
Ailsa can’t escape the claustrophobic feeling that the house itself is watching her—as if her past hungers to consume her. She also can’t ignore how the neighbourhood animals refuse to set one foot within the gates of the garden.
When the first nighttime intruder shows up, Ailsa fears that the manor’s careless rugged beauty could cost her everything.
I recently have received a ton of interesting books for review. As a result, I found myself overwhelmed and falling behind schedule. Luckily, my mom, who is an avid reader, writer, and English teacher, offered to help me out. She was looking for a book to read and I had books that needed reading. This review was written by her (Thanks mom!).
This book made the best first impression in the world. When I read the back, I thought it was a mystery and I love mysteries. I was looking forward to reading all about how the house was haunted or whatever strange things would be going on inside the house. I loved the cover and the author had already written a bestseller.
What I thought
The book starts out with the name of the house, “The Manse” being an all-encompassing, if not dilapidated, mansion. Since the book is written in the first person, the reader gets the feeling right away that this house is haunted. Additionally, there is a one paragraph preface that mentions what the narrator of the story, Ailsa, feels is really going on with her father. The book immediately captured my attention as it introduces Ailsa’s half-sister Carrie (an actress in a play in Edinburgh), and a middle of the night intruder named James.
The author introduces a lot of characters right away and tends to intersperse between each chapter, a one paragraph description of Ailsa’s father. Pretty soon, the reader starts to notice that these are just Ailsa’s fantasies as no one in the town seems to know where the disappearing father could possible have gone. Ailsa’s mother, a struggling artist, was also not well known in the town and those that did know her, didn’t like her. The excitement about the mystery of the Manse soon disappears, however, and what is left is a poorly developed novel about an emotionally devoid main character, a half-sister who appears to lead this strange struggling actress life, and a few of the town’s locals around the same age as Ailsa and Carrie.
I found the character development to be quite weak and the story line to become dull. I struggled to find out who could have possibly been involved with Ailsa’s father’s disappearance, if he did disappear at all. Characters are thrown in for the sake of adding color to the story but they are not developed. This twist in the plot comes from nowhere and is extremely unexpected…but not in a good mystery sort of way. The ending boarders on ridiculous and the characters of the story leave the reader feeling like many of their stories are incomplete. The overall feeling of the book is that the author was “rushed” into writing another book quickly after her first one had been such a success, with her post notes confirming as such.
Another problem I had with the book was the dialect of the Scottish characters. It’s very distracting and at times difficult to understand. Ailsa switches into Scottish brogue after living in London for an extremely long period of time and the switch (and the lack of translation as to what the characters are saying) makes the reader trying to figure out what the words mean in context. The love interest of Ailsa is represented in short phone calls and stream of consciousness thought and at the conclusion of the book, a new love interest is thrown in, just because. The person that the reader thinks Ailsa is going to end up never has any resolution as a character and is merely thrown in as a catalyst to the psycho-killer. I felt that this novel lacked description, plot development and resolution and I would definitely not recommend it. Not only is it a poor excuse for a mystery but it certainly doesn’t suspend ones interest.