Black Rabbit Hall by Eva ChasePublisher: Penguin
Recommended For: Anyone who likes Gothic fiction.
One golden family. One fateful summer. Four lives changed forever.
Amber Alton knows that the hours pass differently at Black Rabbit Hall, her London family's country estate where no two clocks read the same. Summers there are perfect, timeless. Not much ever happens. Until, one stormy evening in 1968, it does.
The idyllic world of the four Alton children is shattered. Fiercely bonded by the tragic events, they grow up fast. But when a glamorous stranger arrives, these loyalties are tested. Forbidden passions simmer. And another catastrophe looms...
Decades later, Lorna and her fiancé wind their way through the countryside searching for a wedding venue. Lorna is drawn to a beautiful crumbling old house she hazily remembers from her childhood, feels a bond she does not understand. When she finds a disturbing message carved into an old oak tree by one of the Alton children, she begins to realise that Black Rabbit Hall's secret history is as dark and tangled as its woods, and that, much like her own past, it must be brought into the light.
A thrilling spiral into the hearts of two women separated by decades but inescapably linked by Black Rabbit Hall. A story of forgotten childhood and broken dreams, secrets and heartache, and the strength of a family's love.
Black Rabbit Hall is a captivating mystery set in the heart of Cornwall. It follows Lorna, who is about to get married. Having visited Cornwall as a child, Lorna has a strong connection to this part of England, and in particular she is drawn to Pencraw Hall, an old house that is also known as 'Black Rabbit Hall'. Although her soon-to-be husband Jon is wary of Black Rabbit Hall, Lorna is determined to find out more about the building's history, especially after finding a child's name on a tree in the grounds.
The story is told in a dual narrative style, alternating between the time preceding the tragedy the tragedy that haunts Black Rabbit Hall and Lorna's preparations for her wedding. While Lorna's chapters in third person, the others are narrated by Amber, one of the two oldest Alton children. Amber is used to spending her summers in Cornwall with her family (which includes her parents, twin Toby, and younger siblings Barney and Kitty) and has a lovely childhood, until one summer something awful happens, changing her life forever. When Lorna visits Black Rabbit Hall decades later, it is occupied by the elderly Mrs Alton, who is cold-hearted and shuts herself away from the rest of society. Lorna is intrigued by Black Rabbit Hall and tries to persuade Mrs Alton, as well as her maid Dill, to tell her about the children who lived there.
I loved the way in which the story is told. I thought the writing was very vivid and the suspense was maintained throughout the book. I was able to conjure up an image of Black Rabbit Hall in my head. I haven't read many Gothic novels (only Northanger Abbey, Rebecca and Wuthering Heights), but I did like that element of Black Rabbit Hall, for example the decaying house, romance and intense emotion. Black Rabbit Hall is dark and chilling, and will be enjoyed by fans of Daphne du Maurier.
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