Top positive review
7 people found this helpful
A haunting tale of secrets and shadows
on 10 August 2004
I love Jonathan Aycliffe's writing (and also when he writes as Daniel Easterman) so I was delighted to learn of this new novel and it didn't disappoint. The story is set mainly during the Great War and focuses on a large house, Trevelyan Priors, based in Cornwall. When fifteen year old (and sorry but I couldn't find any typo's anywhere which confused his age - he was always 15 in 1917) Simon is sent to live with his relatives at Trevelyan Priors he soon learns that the house is filled with dark shadows and memories from the past.
I particularly enjoyed Aycliffe's writing in this book. Although the book wasn't his scariest (but certainly still had its moments) I still found it extremely enjoyable due to his intense and beautifully written descriptions relating to the book's setting. The vivid depiction of the swans in the opening chapter instantly created a tone of anticipation and unease ('They were Mute Swans, white swimmers by day, ghosts crossing the air by night') which continued throughout the book. He created an extremely evocative image of exactly how life was like in this house and surrounding environment at the beginning of the 20th Century.
My only slight criticism would be that I thought there were points within the story which were left incomplete - for example, I felt that more could have been done with the character of the marquis. Although told how evil he was there was no particular confrontation with him and he seemed to creep silently out of the story. And I also felt that the relevance of the summer garden was slightly exaggerated as I never found out why this location was meant to be so haunted and out of bounds.
I agree that nothing could ever surpass the brilliant 'Naomi's Room' and if you haven't read this I urge you to do so, as it is truly the most terrifying book I have ever read, but I still feel that this book is worthy of a read and enjoyable in its own right.