“Amber Alton knows that the hours pass differently at Black Rabbit Hall, her London family’s country estate where no two clocks read the same. Summers there are perfect, timeless. Not much ever happens. Until, one stormy evening in 1968, it does. The idyllic world of the four Alton children is shattered. Fiercely bonded by the tragic events, they grow up fast. But when a glamorous stranger arrives, these loyalties are tested. Forbidden passions simmer. And another catastrophe looms… Decades later, Lorna and her fiancé wind their way through the countryside searching for a wedding venue. Lorna is drawn to a beautiful crumbling old house she hazily remembers from her childhood, feels a bond she does not understand. When she finds a disturbing message carved into an old oak tree by one of the Alton children, she begins to realise that Black Rabbit Hall’s secret history is as dark and tangled as its woods, and that, much like her own past, it must be brought into the light…”
This is a review from my lovely friend and fellow KCARAB blogger, Jane.
1969. Black Rabbit Hall is hidden between the woods and the sea in a forgotten part of Cornwall. A tumbledown, magical place where hot summers slowly slip by, clocks can’t keep their time and all the pleasures of childhood seem endless. For Amber, Toby, Barney and Kitty, Black Rabbit Hall is a sanctuary of nature and play and family time – a respite from school and the bustle of their London lives. Until one summer, when a seemingly small quarrel between the children whips up a much bigger storm – with consequences that reach far into the future.
1990s. Lorna discovers Black Rabbit Hall when searching for the perfect wedding reception venue. Trailing down hot summer roads with her fiancée, the mysterious homestead seems to call to her. Upon discovering the ramshackle house, its downtrodden housekeeper (Dill) and the ferocious and ancient owner Mrs Alton, Lorna finds that she is attracted to the place beyond sense and reason.
Despite her fiancée’s warning, she accepts Mrs Alton’s strange invite to stay at the hall for a few days. The house – with the hint of a secret that seems to remain tantalisingly just out of reach – repels and attracts her in equal measure, but Lorna’s family become increasingly concerned as her captivation with the house’s past ensnares her.
This is a charming and atmospheric novel, beautifully written, capturing hot, endless summers and the approaching threat of a storm that will change so many lives. The two interlocking stories – that of Amber on the cusp of womanhood and Lorna on the cusp of marriage – blend together in a narrative which slowly gives up its secrets, much like the house around which the novel is centred.
With a beautiful cover, and captivating prose, this is a highly recommended read, especially if you want a story with a dash of mystery.
Thanks to Jane for the review!