by Wendy Webb
Julia Bishop is recently widowed and left penniless by her husband who engaged in fraud as a means of making money. A stranger shows up one day offering her more than just a job, but a new life and a chance to disappear. Moreover, it’s a chance to work taking care of her favorite author, Amaris Sinclair….who is supposed to be dead.
First, let me say this book opens with a creepy scene of a séance-gone-really-wrong which happened many years before our story takes place. It sets the scene, so to speak and instantly drops hints at the type of ghosts we may be dealing with. I was instantly hooked and couldn’t wait to find out who these entities were and why they were haunting.
What I really love about Wendy Webb’s writing, especially in this book, is that while I was reading it, I felt each ghost leap out and brush against me. I heard the whispers in the dark hallways. I could almost see myself, like Julia, feeling against the wall hoping for a light to turn on to dispel the darkness. It wasn’t so much that this book was scary as much as it was intensely eerie. I found myself wondering who Amaris Sinclair was and got quickly drawn into her story as it unfolded. I also loved the dogs, who were fiercely protective of Julia pretty much from the moment she entered the house and almost where characters in their right in the story.
I also loved the setting. Who doesn’t love the idea of an isolated, historic mansion in the middle of the woods. Add a snowstorm causing all the main characters to be snowed in and my anxiety levels increased while reading this book. I wanted a way out and I read this during the winter when it was snowing.
Now, I’ll admit, I raised an eyebrow or two at a few things – like why Julia would be so willing to trust a total stranger with her whole life and future after being so brutally betrayed by her husband. Or her quick romance Again, after being betrayed by her husband, it’s hard for me to believe she so easily fell into the arms of someone else so quickly. There’s almost a brushing aside of the natural grief and uncertainty in the face of Adrian Sinclair’s offer.
Also, I was unsure of the endings. I say endings as there seemed to be two of them. One ended the ghost story which honestly was over much quicker than I anticipated. I felt a little let down. But then the epilogue happened and my literal reaction was, “Wait….WHAT?” So was it a dream? Is it real? And even though I initially hated that ending, I also loved that ending because it DID leave me wondering if any of it was real or not and if not, at what point did it stop being real. That is true, talented story-telling, in this reader’s opinion and it made me want to read more of Wendy Webb’s books.
My advice – read this on a rainy afternoon, with a blanket on your lap and a dog at your side. A cup of tea (or hot chocolate) should be at the ready. Then, immerse yourself in this story and don’t let go.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐