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I live in Bristol UK literary fiction and crime are my books of choice and when not reading I like to run

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Enjoyable Gothic horror story

The Devil's Serenade - Catherine Cavendish

Maddie  inherits a Gothic mansion from her aunt Charlotte. She is puzzled and surprised by this gift but determined to make full use of the unexpected inheritance. She has decided for the present to reside there.


A series of unusual occurrences and events is somewhat concerning; what is the significance of the willow tree in the basement? what are the shady figures and apparitions that live within the confines of the house, in particular an elderly gentleman in a cloak. We learn that Maddie had a lonely childhood and to compensate for this she has created an imaginary circle of friends who appear to her throughout the story.


The reader is introduced to Shona and her amateur theatrical associates who make good use of the abundant house resources for rehearsal, and young Charlie Evans the friendly plumber who appears to be a resource of inspiration and help to an increasingly frightened and confused Maddie. Is there something unexplained and frightening within the characters of Shona and Charlie that the reader should be cautious and concerned about? As the story proceeds the issues are dealt with in a very effective manner.


For a haunted house story to be successful the most important element is the pace of the story telling. At the centre of this novel is the imposing and gothic presence of Hargest House. Maddie is frightened by ghostly figures and the willow in the basement, and her state of mind is deteriorating the longer she remains in residence.


The slow unveiling of the house and characters almost leads the reader into a false sense of security and is subtly done by the author creating a beautiful foundation to showcase the evil when it occurs in the latter part of the story.


So an enjoyable Gothic horror tale expertly paced with enough hidden surprises to entertain and engage the reader's interest until the end. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written.