Monday, April 4, 2011
Narrated by: Jen Taylor
Genre: Supernatural Mystery.
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Favorite character: Corinth Blackwell and Nat Loomis.
All in all: Mysterious and spooky.
Synopsis: Nestled deep in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains lies the Bosco estate, a nineteenth-century mansion that was once the home of lumber magnate Milo Latham and his wife, Aurora. A rambling property nearly buried under the ruins of once--opulent statuary gardens and mazes, Bosco now serves as an exclusive creative retreat, where artists and writers live and work under almost oppressive seclusion. Inspired by a timeworn pamphlet describing the scandalous events that took place there in 1893, first-time novelist Ellis Brooks comes to Bosco to write about the tragedies that befell the Latham family and the role Corinth Blackwell, a spiritual medium, played in the family's downfall. When Ellis uncovers the family's secrets, she and her fellow writers find themselves imperiled by the house's sinister history. ~Amazon.com
The subject of spiritualism from the Victorian Era fascinates me and this novel includes a lot of it. The story switches back and forth from present day, told in the main protagonist Ellis’s POV to 1893, told from renowned medium Corinth Blackwell’s POV. The scandalous events from the past affect the here and now when several writers attend an artist's retreat, called Bosco. During the novel, the characters try to figure out the events from the past for their books, but also because odd things keep happening. I thought it was interesting how the author depicted the guests brainstorming and hypothesizing about what could have occured, just as all writers do.
This setting is the Adirondack Mountains in New York on the Hudson River and since that’s close to me, I could imagine the setting very well. In fact, there is a place on the Hudson called Boscobel and I wonder if the author found inspiration from that name for her book. I also enjoyed the Native American legends that were a major part of the story as well, whether they are real or just made up for this book.
Bosco’s gardens and fountains featured prominently in the novel. The descriptions of both are very detailed and it is clear that the author did a lot of research about architectural landscapes, fountains and gardens. They were not only plot devices it was as if they were characters themselves, haunting, confusing and giving clues to the players.
Sometimes going back and forth in different time periods is confusing, jarring or just doesn’t work. This was not the case here. I loved discovering the mystery along with Ellis in the present, but was also intrigued by the story from the past. I felt the more that was revealed about what happened in the late 1800s, the more events were spiraling out of control for Ellis in her life.
The spooky parts were very atmospheric and led to more questions or just that eerie feeling when you know something is going on that is not quite of this world. Some pieces of the puzzle unfolded slowly and some were obvious to me, but all added to the mystery.
Although some of the writing was repetitive, I thought most of it was lovely, atmospheric and detailed. I liked the narration also. Jen Taylor did a great job differentiating the voices and characters, from male to female to children, and I could really follow who was talking.
I liked most of the characters from both the past and the present, because I felt they were realistic. Some of course I liked more than others. The ones I liked most had flaws, weren’t perfect and actually had some questionable traits. What I thought was interesting was that the author allowed the reader to get to know Ellis first and trust her before she brought up the fact that she has some psychic ability. Her gift isn’t pushed down the reader’s throat. It’s clear that Ellis has been avoiding that part of her life and it seems like she almost doesn’t believe in it or, as one character pointed out, she doesn’t believe in herself.
***SPOILER ALERT: Some of it was a little hard for me to swallow. The people possessed by ghosts of the past, the flowers being possessed and practically coming to life. Also, that some people who were at Bosco were descendants of the characters from the past storyline. However, I could also see the other side that perhaps the author felt that the only way for the events of the past to be resolved was for the people who are connected to them be involved. :END SPOILER ALERT***
I liked the ending too. There were a few surprises and a few things I saw coming and a few things that I thought maybe were tied up too neatly. However, this was a book I enjoyed listening to very much and I couldn't wait to find out what happened to all the characters.
4 out of 5 stars.
Posted by Midnyte Reader at 10:02 AM