House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick, publisher MIRA, is available in ebook format, and paperback format from TOMORROW Thursday 5th November 2015.
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There was something the Winter Queen needed to tell him. She fought for the strength to speak.
‘The crystal mirror is a danger. It must be destroyed – ‘
He replied instantly. ‘It will’.
Ashdown, Oxfordshire, present day: Ben Ansell is researching his family tree when he disappears. As his sister Holly begins a desperate search, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to an ornate antique mirror and to the diary of Lavinia, a 19th century courtesan who was living at Ashdown House when it burned to the ground over 200 years ago.
Intrigued, and determined to find out more about the tragedy at Ashdown, Holly’s only hope is that uncovering the truth about the past will lead her to Ben.
For fans of Barbara Erskine and Kate Morton comes an unforgettable novel about three women and the power one lie can have over history.
After just recently finishing this truly beautiful, haunting, mesmerising book I felt heartbroken for some of the characters, for a love that could never blossom, but I also felt blissfully happy for others for giving love a chance. It ws a remarkable read that I would love to see adapted for the big screen.
The story is set in 3 lifetimes; we travel back to the 1600’s with Elizabeth (the Winter Queen) and Lord Craven, a noble soldier dedicated to serve the King and Queen; then to 1801 with Lavinia Flyte, a young woman who had turned to vice to support herself and to Robert Verity, an army surveyor who had a chance meeting with the lovely, brave Lavinia; and forward to the present day we are faced with the story of Holly Ansell, who has just learned of the sudden disappearance of her brother Ben.
Holly is desperate to find her brother so decides to uproot her business and move to the Old Mill house in Ashdown, Oxfordshire, the last place Ben was seen alive. It soon becomes apparent that prior to Ben’s disappearance he was in the process of researching the family tree. The only clue that Holly could find as to what Ben was researching was a very old journal written by a young woman called Lavinia Flyte. Holly started to read this diary to ascertain whether it gave any further clues as to Ben’s whereabouts.
Bit by bit Holly uncovers more about the past with the hope of finding Ben alive.
It was mesmerising to hear about the lives of loves, lost and found back in the 17th and 19th century. Times were very different then and politics played a part in life and love. We start to hear about events and people in the past that have links to the old Ashdown House and Mill. An ornate antique bejewelled mirror and a pearl have strong links in the story and are believed to hold magical, dark powers. Whilst reading the story I could feel the atmosphere when we learn about the mirror and pearl. It was enlightening, mystical and quite frightening the auras and beliefs surrounding these objects; two objects of beauty were definitely deceptive to the eye.
The story had 3 tales of love and not all was a happy one. This was a beautiful, heartfelt, at times tormenting and haunting story that will stay with me for a long time.
A beautiful, haunting, atmospheric 5/5* read.
To find out more about Nicola Cornick and her books please visit the following links: