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on 12 April 2017
Nell West returns in another historical mystery. In this novel Nell is invited to Stilter House to catalogue its contents. Nell takes her daughter Beth along with her as it was Beth’s deceased fathers childhood summer home. Immediately Nell gets entangled in uncovering the past and the truth about the mysterious Isobel Acton.
This story is the third in the Nell West series and differs from the previous Nell West novels in that the historical plot is mostly revealed through the use of old documents, letters, diaries and the odd newspaper cutting. I think this format worked really well and was very intriguing as a reader to follow.
For me, Rayne’s writing really shines during the historical timeline. Edmund and his relationship with his father is brilliantly described and very believable. The characters Jack and Samuel were also really interesting and how each character’s story knitted together was brilliantly tantalising right the way through the story.
As with all Sarah Rayne’s books I have read, the settings and atmosphere are excellently written and the reader can’t help but be absorbed into the dark and mysterious environments.
The only minor downside in this novel was the modern storyline takes a very minimalist approach with Nell only really being there to discover the historic story. I do think Nell and Michael are both really great characters and would have liked a little more of them in this book (particularly Michael who was so interesting in the Sin Eater).
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. As a few others have mentioned it did take a little longer to get into that previous books by Sarah Rayne but I think that was mostly due to the historic storyline being revealed in a different manner. Once you get into it though, it is really intriguing and I must say I really enjoyed the outcome.
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. 
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 November 2013
This is the story of Stilter House in the small Derbyshire village of Caudle. Recently widowed Nell and her daughter Beth go to stay in the house whilst Nell catalogues the contents. This was a home much visited by Beth's father in his childhood and Nell is hoping that Beth will find some connection with him there. Nell and Beth do make connections with the past, just not quite as they had intended.
I took a while to get into this book but once I did, I was hooked. All the present day events take place over the course of a few days so there is a lot going on. Much of the book harks back to two separate time periods in Stilter House's history . This is done through the use of old documents, diaries, newspaper reports and letters. I particularly enjoyed this method of giving us the information - a small piece of information in a nineteeth century letter to a builder, a passing comment in a diary in the attic coupled with an old newspaper report created a wonderful jigsaw to puzzle out.
This is a ghost story & there are several ghosts to choose from. The descriptions of two of the ghosts and the events around them created a wonderful atmosphere. Who could fail to feel hairs rise at a description of gouge marks from someone's hands as they tried to get out? Sarah Rayne is a master of suspense and this is definitely one of her best.
The modern day characters of Nell, Beth and Nell's boyfriend, Michael aren't particularly special. They are really there to be characters to do discovery work for the reader. The really well constructed characters are those from the past, especially Jack & Samuel Burlap, Esmond and his father. These characters all drew conclusions from events and made decisions which had far ranging consequences.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. There is a murderer in this book but it certainly wasn't who I was expecting it to be! The pieces all fitted together well and clues were there but I just hadn't seen it coming.
This is an excellent book which I enjoyed thoroughly. Don't give up on the first few slightly slow chapters but read on for an excellent mystery book.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 29 May 2016
This is the story of Stilter House in the small Derbyshire village of Caudle. Recently widowed Nell and her daughter Beth go to stay in the house whilst Nell catalogues the contents. This was a home much visited by Beth's father in his childhood and Nell is hoping that Beth will find some connection with him there. Nell and Beth do make connections with the past, just not quite as they had intended.
I took a while to get into this book but once I did, I was hooked. All the present day events take place over the course of a few days so there is a lot going on. Much of the book harks back to two separate time periods in Stilter House's history . This is done through the use of old documents, diaries, newspaper reports and letters. I particularly enjoyed this method of giving us the information - a small piece of information in a nineteeth century letter to a builder, a passing comment in a diary in the attic coupled with an old newspaper report created a wonderful jigsaw to puzzle out.
This is a ghost story & there are several ghosts to choose from. The descriptions of two of the ghosts and the events around them created a wonderful atmosphere. Who could fail to feel hairs rise at a description of gouge marks from someone's hands as they tried to get out? Sarah Rayne is a master of suspense and this is definitely one of her best.
The modern day characters of Nell, Beth and Nell's boyfriend, Michael aren't particularly special. They are really there to be characters to do discovery work for the reader. The really well constructed characters are those from the past, especially Jack & Samuel Burlap, Esmond and his father. These characters all drew conclusions from events and made decisions which had far ranging consequences.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. There is a murderer in this book but it certainly wasn't who I was expecting it to be! The pieces all fitted together well and clues were there but I just hadn't seen it coming.
This is an excellent book which I enjoyed thoroughly. Don't give up on the first few slightly slow chapters but read on for an excellent mystery book.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 13 May 2013
I've read a few of the author's books previously, and they are always a good read. So I looked forward to this latest offering.

Nell West is asked to value the contents of a home after the elderly owner dies. Relatives of her late husband, she is of course keen to be involved, and goes down there for a few days with her daughter Beth. But when she hears piano playing on a piano that is locked, and she and Beth are frightened by a woman on the property at night, the papers that she has found telling something of the history of the property's previous owners begin to take on a more sinister turn.

This is a great ghost story; some of the language used in the old letters and correspondence seemed, to me to be a bit incorrect for the period, but that's a small quibble against a narrative that races along with plenty of intriguing twists and turns. Great stuff; I look forward to more from this author. As this is the third in the series featuring Nell West, I need to go back and read the first and second ones now.
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on 10 April 2013
I read this on the ferry going to and from France recently, and was completely shut into this bleak world of Stilter House and its previous occupants and connections. I'm not giving too much away by saying that it's full of surprises and shocks, but what achieves this is the superb structure. Every page revealed a new development towards the chilling climax involving not only Nell.
Brilliant.
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on 26 September 2015
A very predictable, plodding story. To call the people in the book "characters" would be to flatter them. They are flat, dull people and the story could be told in a few lines. I was annoyed by the ridiculous notion mistakes. In the first few pages, Nell, the mother, puts her daughter to bed in a room lit only by candles ( there's no electricity in the old house) then begins to examine old books by candlelight. These books , she thinks are all antique, possibly first editions dating from 1910 or 1920. How then, does she proceed to make notes about them "including their ISBN number" since this system of book identification did not start until the 1970s...Its a warm night apparently, but conveniently, a storm blows up , causing Nell to go to the rain spattered window, just when a ghost has presented itself outside with outstretched fingers, staring eyes and dripping rags for clothes...Nell, a stalwart character certainly. Me - Id have woken my daughter and beat it out of there in seconds flat for a b&b - its still only 9.30 apparently. Instead, Nell tries to type up her notes on the laptop. She obviously has a good battery life on hers, since she travelled from the South to Derbyshire with it and it can't be plugged in - there's no electricity - or landline - or signal for mobile phones either...
Give us a break Sarah - at least get your facts right ! I noticed another reviewer mentioned something about a piece of crochet being wrong in this book. If i try another of Sarahs books it will be to see if she can makes mistakes like this often, or this book was just an unfortunate one.
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on 12 March 2013
Although Stilter House is set in a remote part of Derbyshire, it is the house where antiques dealer Nell West's dead husband spent much of his childhood, so she is more than happy to visit (with her young daughter Beth) to value the contents.

The house stands on the ground which a much older property - in which Isobel Acton committed murder; - once stood, but Nell is unaware that the house is said to be haunted.

When Michael Flint, Nell's lover, receives a letter telling him that Nell and Beth shouldn't go to Stilter House `because `Esmond is still there' Michael is alarmed. Unable to contact Nell, or the writer of the letter, to obtain more information, Michael decides to leave Oxford and follow Nell to Derbyshire to warn her.

But already Nell has experienced some very odd incidents and is worried about Beth, who has made a friend, a young boy who plays the piano.

Eerie, scary, macabre, this is Sarah Rayne at her best. Slowly the events of the past unravel, and in horrifying detail we learn the secrets of Stilter House. This is the third in this haunting series and is as unputdownable as the earlier two.
-------
Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes
Earlier books in the series are: Property of a Lady, The Sin Eater.
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on 25 November 2013
...I had two big problems. Firstly, Nell has had several encounters with ghosts: she has seen, heard and been physically attacked by the spirits of dead people yet she STILL refuses to accept that such things exist! Is she stubborn, stupid or what? Secondly, the denouement. I do not want to spoil the ending for those who have not yet read the book so I will not say too much, but it was rather OTT. And, okay, I am a bit fussy but really - crochet? Evidently Ms Rayne does not know what crochet is or what a crochet hook looks like. Maybe she meant crewel-work or something, I do not know, but really SOMEONE should have checked that!
Those gripes aside, it is a ripping yarn and I enjoyed reading it.
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on 10 March 2013
Chilling, compelling, menacing and macabre, The Silence is the third in Sarah Rayne's spine-tingling supernatural suspense series featuring antiques dealer Nell West and Oxford don Michael Flint.

Rayne's vivid writing captivated me from the first page. I was hooked with these words:'I don't think we need to worry over what Charlotte said about the house. She was always a bit eccentric and given to imagining she saw things. I always thought she simply needed stronger reading glasses.'

The subtle touch of humour simply underlines the fact that the reader needs to worry - and the reasons emerge via a gripping narrative packed with secrets and edge-of-seat suspense. In no time at all, ghostly music - and the stirrings of century-old sins - echo down the years and through the rooms of the spookily atmospheric Stilter House.

The stories behind the hauntings are skilfully told through a series of letters, deeds, statements and court reports. The author gives even these minor off-page characters distinctive `voices' and I love how she's developing the relationship between the main players, Nell and Michael.

Like a spider's web, its intelligently-paced plot is both extraordinarily intricate and beautifully constructed. It trapped this reader to the final line. For me, The Silence is a book to shout about.
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on 13 September 2014
Started off in promising fashion and had some good creepy moments but I found the relationship between the two main characters rather saccharin and the daughter unlike any child I have experienced. Sometimes she appeared fairly mature and then the next minute like a five year old. The elderly lady who appeared in last part of book also,did not seem realistic to me and after finishing book thought I would not bother with any further books in the series.
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