4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The secret of the secret rooms,
This review is from: The Secret Rooms: A True Gothic Mystery (Hardcover)
Ah, this one will be a like it or hate it. I don't think anyone will love it - it isn't quite the deftly told and fascinating Black Diamonds: The Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty (the author's previous book set in familiar country house with a story to tell territory). People will like it because it provides an interesting insight into three generations of the Manners family, the Dukes of Rutland and the owners of Belvoir Castle. It fits into the Downton Abbey zeitgeist of exploring the rifts, arguments and machinations of a distinctly upper crust family whilst dangling the prospect of an explosive revelation.
And it is this part that I think will draw some of the negative reviews and why some people will either be ambivalent about the book or plain dislike it. I don't think this is a plot spoiler, but, if you are sensitive to such things, stop reading now.
The big secret is, well, a bit rubbish. And without something devastating at the heart of the book, the whole thing just falls apart. There is no detailed characterisation of members of the family so it is difficult to feel one way or another about their fates. Much of the book is taken up with frankly tedious accounts of how documents were found in one room of the castle or another.
All of this is done in an attempt to build up the suspense and tension of a Victorian gothic thriller. But the material just doesn't back it up.