Friday, January 16, 2015

Deadlight Hall by Sarah Rayne

First Sentence:  “I don’t mean to imply the house is haunted,” said Professor Rosendale Firmly.
   
Michael Flight is asked to investigate Deadlight Hall, a building currently being renovated that had been used as an orphanage and hospital during WWII.  At that time, a pair of twin sisters, Jewish refugees, disappeared for the hall.  Going back into the house’s history, Michael and his fiancée Nell, discover another pair of sisters who vanished in the 1880s.  In spite of the fact that no one now lives at the Hall, it quickly becomes clear that the house is not empty.
   
Rayne immediately achieves just the right atmosphere and sense that things could be perfectly fine…or perhaps not.
   
One disadvantage of reading an eGalley, is that one lacks the chapter headings and other breaks which usually indicate a change in scene or time period.  Even so, the device used to convey some of the information is interesting, but it doesn’t really allow to story to unfold page by page.
   
The suspense is very well done; gripping and decidedly creepy, and is enjoyably offset by the inclusion of Flint’s fictional cat, Wilberforce, and his adventures.  The plot leaves one questioning whether things are natural or supernatural and what is motivating them.  There is also a fascinating concept of “The Silent Minute,” quite different here from the historical Silent Minute from WWII where people were asked to devote one minute of prayer for peace at nine o’clock each evening.
   
Rayne’s descriptions are wonderfully atmospheric…”The poison book was in good condition….There was, though, the feeling that the light which fell over the pages was tinged with the flickering radiance of candlelight, wax-scented and dim, or even the bad-smelling gaslight that came later.” 
   
“Deadlight Hall” is an intriguing, creepy story with lots of twists and is sure to entertain anyone who appreciates things that go bump in the night.

DEADLIGHT HALL (Susp/Myst/Para – Dr. Michael Flint – England – Contemp/1940s) – VG
Rayne, Sarah – 5th in series
Severn House – April 2015

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