BOOK REVIEW THE QUICKENING BY RHIANNON WARD PUBLISHED 20TH AUGUST 2020 BY TRAPEZE
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England, 1925. Louisa Drew lost her husband in the First World War and her six-year-old twin sons in the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. Newly re-married and seven months pregnant, Louisa is asked by her employer to travel to Clewer Hall in Sussex where she is to photograph the contents of the house for auction.
She learns Clewer Hall was host to an infamous séance in 1896, and that the lady of the house has asked those who gathered back then to come together once more to recreate the evening.
When a mysterious child appears on the grounds, Louisa finds herself compelled to investigate and becomes embroiled in the strange happenings of the house. Gradually, she unravels the long-held secrets of the inhabitants and what really happened thirty years before… and discovers her own fate is entwined with that of Clewer Hall’s.
Set mainly in 1925, The Clewer family are selling up to raise much needed funds for a move to India. Once a rich family, with the lady of the house once well known for her soirees , which were often featured in the society pages and her husband a collector, they hire a photographer to photograph the house and it’s contents for the sales brochure.
The photographer they choose is Louisa Drew. Having already lost her first husband in the war and her twin boys in the Spanish Flu, Louisa is already experienced in grief. Now married to Edwin and expecting again, the extra income will be much appreciated even though she knows Edwin will disapprove of her working.
However, from her bosses demeaner, Louisa senses there is something uneasy about this offer of employment. Surely her boss wouldn’t give her a commission which would put her in harms way! Louisa wonders what secrets Clewer Hall holds.
This was a really suspenseful, creepy and tension fuelled read. I thought all the characters were well drawn and the sinister Clewer Hall wonderfully described. The two time periods are well portrayed and wonderfully entwined, with the post war loss of loved ones and the gothic, spooky interest of spiritualism of the Victorian era, they made a good combination.
I liked the main character of Louisa her grief and pain, coupled with her determination and want to carry on working after the war are well written and shape her character, making her a fully rounded character to read. The others in the story, with their creepy ways and distance manner add so well to the story. As mentions the hall is wonderfully described and is a big part of the story.
The twists and turns of the mystery of the house keep the story moving along and the chapters taking place in the earlier years slot in neatly and don’t interrupt the flow for the reader.
I enjoy a book when it includes a real life character within it’s fictional tale and the author uses Sir Arthur Conan Doyle here, with his well known interest in spiritualism, but without it being overbearing or taking over the main plot of the book.
An enjoyable read which suited the Halloween weekend well.
The author has also written crime novels under the name of Sarah Ward and I will check these out. There is also an enjoyable interview by Spookfest Gothic Panel over on YouTube with 2 other authors which is worth a watch.
I read my own copy of this book over the Halloween weekend and please note I am an affiliated member of bookshop.org should you click on the above link.