Monday, 28 June 2010

Wyndspelle's Child by Aola Vandergriff

GENRE: historical Gothic mystery/romance
(the cover picture was made by me because I couldn't find a picture of a cover for this book on the internet)

The year is 1815. Megan Alisdair, a young Scottish girl, travels from England to America to take care of a sick girl at Wyndspelle. She is warned by her uncle that the house is evil, for he has lives there many years and knows the stories that have been told about the haunted mansion. Still, Megan is determined to help a child in need and so, she becomes a part of Wyndspelle’s household, as well as of Wyndspelle’s shadows and secrets. The girl, Leah, lost her mother and brother in a fire five years ago and even her father Craigh Stewart, the current master of Wyndspelle, believes that Leah set the fire. Megan disagrees. She believes that the mute, helpless girl is a victim and when strange things begin to happen that put Megan’s and Leah’s lives at risk, Megan must find out the truth, save the child and herself, as well as her heart. In Wyndspelle, anyone could be the culprit and no one can be trusted...

This is the final book in the Wyndspelle trilogy and I must say that I enjoyed it immensely, just like the first two books, Wyndspelle and The Bell Tower of Wyndspelle.

Megan Alisdair is a new heroine in the trilogy. She is a cheerful, young girl from Scotland, who was once a lord’s daughter, but when her father died, his brother took hold of the family mansion and Megan was forced to live at the mercy of her relatives. So, when an opportunity presents itself to Megan to leave England behind, she grasps it with both hands, although the opportunity means living in a house like Wyndspelle. Megan does not believe in superstitions and does not think the house is haunted, but the more time she spends in it, the more she begins to feel the pressure of the house pressing down on her shoulders and enveloping her in its dark shadows and secrets.

Megan must care for a twelve-year-old invalid girl, Leah, who is mute and is not completely sane. Her state is the consequence of the fire from five years ago, in which Leah’s mother and brother died, leaving Leah alone with her father, Craigh Stewart, who believes, like everyone else, that Leah caused the fire for certain reasons. Megan is appalled by these assumptions and is brave enough to confront the master, Craigh, on many occasions. She is determined to prove that Leah is a victim and a normal child and when she begins to nurse Leah back to health very successfully, Leah’s life is suddenly in danger and Megan knows that someone in the house does not want the girl to speak. The killer is in the house and by protecting Leah, Megan becomes his, or her, target as well.

Craigh Stewart, Leah’s father and the master of Wyndspelle, is a deeply hurt man, mourning the loss of his wife and son, as well as of his daughter. He turned his back to the world, but Megan’s determination to help the girl and the family touches even his dark soul. However, nothing is simple in Wyndspelle and even Craigh is Megan’s suspect. She suspects him with a heavy heart, for he has found a way into hers. There are also other suspects: Aherne, late Morna Stewart’s introverted, silent brother; Fiona Stewart, Morna’s cheerful and delicate sister; Constance, Fiona’s faithful companion; and two servants, the deaf and mute Della, and the cook with a criminal past, Mollie Sharp. All these people confuse Megan and she must find out which one of them is the killer before it is too late.

Again, Vandergriff created a great Gothic atmosphere. She weaved elements from the previous two books into the third one very deftly and created an atmosphere of suspense and uncertainty. The house is presented like a living creature that breathes and harbours old ghosts that prey on the living. It’s a really great atmosphere and when I was reading the book, I was sucked right into it. The suspense builds up nicely, gradually and painfully for the reader, because you really get sucked into it and anticipate something horrible all the time. It’s a really great, atmospheric read. The novel has a clear climax and a proper denouement.

My one complaint is about the abrupt ending. Everything wraps up nicely, but things just end too quickly and too abruptly. Perhaps two more chapters, or at least one, could have been added. Still, this does not spoil the book. I truly enjoyed reading it and I recommend it to all who like to read this genre. I, personally, believe that the Wyndspelle books are one of the best novels written for the genre of the historical Gothic romance/mystery.



Carrie at In the Hammock Blog said...

oh wow, sounds really good!! Thanks for sharing, i hadn't heard of this series before.

Blodeuedd said...

Never heard of this one either, but it does sound very good.
And love that cover you made!

Jan von Harz said...

Sounds very thrilling and I love a good Gothic mystery. Just reading your review had me thinking of Jane Eyre and the atmosphere surrounding Bronte's book.

Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

Thank you for your comments!!