While I normally don’t read much young adult fiction, the cover of this book kept catching my eye so when it was recommended by a patron whose tastes I normally share, it was hard to resist. Proving that going with your first instincts it usually the right course, the book was a treat.
The story is set in the northwest coast of Scotland during the 1800’s, where orphaned sixteen-year old Josie Ferguson who has grown up in Edinburgh has been sent to stay with her relatives. Like the environment around her, her new family, Uncle Caleb and Auntie Minnie are cold and hostile and she is left alone much of the time, until one day Eli Stuart comes into her life. Eli is handsome and kind and takes a true interest in Josie but he also vague and mysterious. When the relationship becomes known, Josie is forbidden to even think about Eli but no one will tell her why. The more she tries to discover the reasons, the darker and more dangerous the town of Brindle Point becomes to her.
The book is fairly short and follows the tenets of a classic Gothic novel. It is easy to feel the inspiration of works like Willie Collin’s “The Woman in White” and Henry James “The Turning of the Screw” in the structure of the story. True to her time, Josie is a traditional Victorian heroine caught within the cage of propriety while struggling to develop into the woman she will become. Like all Gothics, things are not always what they appear so there is an air of dread despite an early reveal of the villain of the piece. While the story treads familiar territory, the writing and the dialogue are strong which makes this a great book for a pleasant Sunday afternoon read on a rainy day.
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