Sunday, September 20, 2020

Girls of Brackenhill

Girls of Brackenhill by Kate Moretti
11/1/20/332 pages
Thomas & Mercer

Girls of Brackenhill by Kate Moretti is a highly recommended Gothic thriller wrapped around an old mystery.

When Hannah Maloney’s Aunt Fae dies in a car accident she must return to Fae's home in the Catskills, the castle on Brackenhill. Her Uncle Stuart is bedridden and dying from cancer and there are no other living relatives. Hannah and her older sister Julia spent several summers growing up at Brackenhill. All of that changed the summer her older sister Julia disappeared. Her sister's death was never proven and Hannah believes Julia ran away. She hasn't seen her aunt for seventeen years - not since Julia disappeared.

Hannah and her fiancé Huck travel to the castle where they learn that Fae has died from her injuries. Now Hannah must plan a memorial, find some placement for Stuart, but most of all she must face the events from seventeen years ago. When their dog digs up a bone that is human, it must be determined if it belonged to Julia or to another girl who disappeared. This brings Hannah's first boyfriend back into her life, police officer Wyatt McCarran.

There is a spooky, haunted atmosphere to this Gothic thriller, along with ties to the supernatural. As Hannah recalls past events, she begins looking into people and the past, trying to come to some realization of what happened. At the same time, she is starting to experience disturbing dreams and episodes of sleepwalking, things that haven't plagued her since she was last at Brackenhill. This, naturally, raises the spookiness factor, along with her memories of basement rooms that move and noises in the night.

Hannah is really the main character and the only, truly well-developed one, but she also becomes more unreliable as the story progresses and you will begin to have a hint that she may not be telling us the whole story or she may not be remembering things correctly.  What you will realize is that she is becoming obsessed with events from her past.

Moretti uses Hannah's flashback and memories to effectively heighten the tension and ratchet up the suspense. Is something evil lurking or is it all imagination or perhaps a person involved? There are plenty of questions and potential suspects along the way. And when Stuart, who is basically uncommunicative, mutters a few words, it sets Hannah on a quest to uncover the truth about the past and to try and figure out who her aunt really was and what happened to Julia.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Thomas & Mercer.

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