- Also check our best rated Romance Book reviews
Deadlight Hall: A haunted house mystery (A Nell West and Michael Flint Haunted House Story) Hardcover – 1 April 2015
Customers who bought this item also bought
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
"Rayne tells a modern-day ghost story with a distinctly gothic feel"--Booklist
About the Author
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Her latest, is in my opinion, possibly the best of the Michael Flint/Nell West series- building effectively on the characters' past history and creating a very eerie story set as is often the case with Rayne novels in 3 times periods (Victorian- World War 2 and modern day).
Sweeping backwards and forwards over these different time zones is quite a feat in itself and Rayne always has a surprise or two up her literary sleeve. I am a sucker for ghost stories/time slip novels/historical thrillers/ancient crimes which shadow the present day- so Rayne is an ideal match for me. Her plots tick all my boxes.
Well now this is a book and a half. I say this because at the beginning I half hated it and half loved it. What transpired in my first venture into the world of Sarah Rayne was confirmation of the old prophecy – “Never give up on a book, because you never know where it may lead and how much pleasure you may end up getting out of it.”
Deadlight Hall is a building that has stood in the Oxfordshire countryside for many years. It has a long history. Much of it hidden and secret. A builder has started to refurbish it and University Professor Leo Rosendale has asked his colleague Dr Michael Flint, an amateur ghost hunter by all accounts, to go to the building and see if he can sense anything. When Flint visits the house, he has a huge sense of foreboding and can hear a voice whispering to him. Professor Rosendale also has a silver “golem” (a Jewish statue) to sell and asks Flint’s partner Nell to look after the sale.
What is the connection with Rosendale, Deadlight Hall, the golem and the ghosts? In this mosaic tale, nothing is ever as it seems. No one is ever as they seem. Everyone has secrets. Even the ghosts.
Now, the most annoyingly infuriating thing about this book? The narrative. When we meet our characters at the beginning, the conversations between Flint, Nell, Rosendale and combinations of all of the above, are written in such a way that they are the most incredibly posh English people you could ever possibly meet. It’s like the entire cast from Downton Abbey in present day. It was mind-bogglingly frustrating.
An example: (made up for explaining purposes) Normal speak in 2015 – Nell asked, “Would you like a cup of tea?” “Yes” said Michael. Actual speak Nell asked, “Would you like to partake of a delicious brew of the finest tea in one of ones fine bone china cups?” “That would be absolutely, splendidly wonderful my dear. I would be awfully delighted if you could add some of that delicious premium sugar as well!”
Now, the reason this was so annoying is the fact that do people still speak like that? Also it took thirty words to say the same thing that one word can do. This really annoyed me to the point of nearly binning the whole book.
Then, the story started to develop. I am not going to tell you anything more of the plot than I already have because I do not in any way want to spoil it for you. All I can say is that when it got into second gear, this story was simply superb.
The story basically tells the history of the goings on in Deadlight Hall. It features specifically around some happenings in the late 1800’s, then jumps back to the present day, then jumps to the 1940’s during WWII. It follows the plight of children staying at the house in all time periods and the ghosts that haunt their lives.
There are sections that are told through secret letters sent between 2 men during the war about sneaking Jewish children out of Poland to get them away from the clutches of the Nazis and Dr Josef Mengele. These scenes are absolutely delicious. The feelings of absolute fear they give you are outstanding. They are so harrowing that you will feel knots in the very pit of your stomach and as the story progresses, right to the very last pages, you will shed a tear or two at the outcomes.
When you get past the style of the narrative this is first class. Thankfully that style only rears its ugly head when the present time characters are in discussions and the flashback narrative is very relevant to the times.
There are quite a few twists in this story that at first may seem a bit confusing but all get explained as things unfold and you will not believe some of the directions the story takes.
To summarise: Try to ignore that style of the narrative (if, of course, it winds you up as it did me). What develops is a ghost story of the highest order. It will creep you out and make the hairs on the back of your neck stand to attention. A lot. The way the story is written, particularly with the flashbacks to the times during the war, is absolutely divine.
This is book five in a series, so I have come to the party late. I will however be checking out numbers one to four.
In this novel, Rayne also continues along the war theme, this time it is Nazi Germany that is the focus. To be honest the book blurb captures the essence of this story better than I could word it: Leo Rosendale's childhood was blighted by a macabre tragedy in the grim Deadlight Hall - twin girls vanished, their fate never discovered. What took place there, one long-ago midnight? Michael and his fiancée Nell are unprepared for the shocking truth.
The historical sections of this novel really stand out, very well researched and enjoyable. The novel takes us through various histories of Deadlight hall from the 1870s, the 1940s war evacuation, and then into modern times. The story from Leo’s childhood being the most dramatic of the three storylines. I absolutely love the description of the old house and the wartime era, rules and superstitions captured in this novel really made the storyline vivid.
I think Rayne has done a great job of developing Michael and Nell’s personal relationship too. For returning readers it is handled very well and the progression can be seen, but it’s also not distracting and confusing for first-time readers. Although I would recommend reading the series in order, I think the users could read out of order without too much of a worry. For those that haven’t discovered the Nell West collection, I would suggest these novels are quite similarly written to Phil Rickman’s work; old story exposed, great characters and slightly eerie.
Please leave a helpful vote if you think my review/feedback of the item was helpful to you. Alternatively, please contact me if you want me to clarify something in my review.
Top international reviews
Can't wait for more stories Sarah.
Deadlight Hall is a real stinker. And the ending of the main plot (after reading that diary business) is told in such a twee and indirect way that I really had concerns Rayne has lost her mind, period.
The early refrain in the book, "And of course, there had been Sophie," sets up a payoff that not only never comes but actually never even makes sense, because Leo has no explained or demonstrated attachment to one twin more than the other. And as a child, he never expresses romantic feelings toward either of them.
The main plot feels as though it has such a potential to be expansive and imaginative, but it flails and ultimately fails by being stuck in the one place. And Rayne doesn't even bother to send Nell or Michael on a road trip this time. Let's just stay in town. 'Can't be bothered' is the overwhelming impression we get here.
We're led up the merry path to believe this is a story about finding these twins; instead, midway, we change tack and we're given a half-baked rip-off of Jane Eyre's madwoman in the attic coupled with shades of Rayne's own earlier work, the Death Chamber. The writing style of the exposition in certain fiery, gruesome scenes are reminiscent of scenes in Rayne's much earlier, highly dubious and rather embarrassing novel (first written as Frances Gordon), The Burning Altar.
And the book is also too short: it's barely a couple of nights of reading before bed. In essence, there is a whole lot of nothing going on here, and this is a shame.
I have read every other book of Rayne's. The Burning Altar, Blood Ritual, and Deadlight Hall hopefully will hold true to the superstition that bad luck comes in threes, and will be the sum total of Rayne's truly bad authorial outings. I'm not sure I can take another.