Saturday, February 20, 2016

Black Rabbit Hall: A Novel by Eve Chase

(Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book: (from NetGalley)

For fans of Kate Morton and Sarah Waters, here's a magnetic debut novel of wrenching family secrets, forbidden love, and heartbreaking loss housed within the grand gothic manor of Black Rabbit Hall.

Ghosts are everywhere, not just the ghost of Momma in the woods, but ghosts of us too, what we used to be like in those long summers . . .
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, of course, it does.

More than three decades later, Lorna is determined to be married within the grand, ivy-covered walls of Pencraw Hall, known as Black Rabbit Hall among the locals. But as she's drawn deeper into the overgrown grounds, half-buried memories of her mother begin to surface and Lorna soon finds herself ensnared within the manor's labyrinthine history, overcome with an insatiable need for answers about her own past and that of the once-happy family whose memory still haunts the estate.

Stunning and atmospheric, this debut novel is a thrilling spiral into the hearts of two women separated by decades but inescapably linked by the dark and tangled secrets of Black Rabbit Hall.

my thoughts:

Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase was a spectacular and fun story to read. I absolutely enjoyed spending the night reading all about the Alton family and Lorna, discovering what linked them all together and who tore them apart.  Such a thrilling story!

Here's what I loved:
  • The Gothic feel of the novel was ace.  Black Rabbit Hall was a huge, crumbling estate where time seemed to move at its own pace. The rooms were plenty, the grounds vast, and the inhabitants a bit quirky. 
  • Dual narratives made for quite an entertaining read. I loved learning about the house through Amber and Lorna - both shared such interesting connections to the house and one another.
  • It was 1968 vs. 30 years later in the story and I loved it.  Traveling to and fro allowed us to gain a better understanding of Lorna's obsession with the house and also enlightened us with a bit of the house's history.
  • The tragedy that struck in the summer of 68 is heartbreaking and aids in establishing a somewhat haunted atmosphere that manages to suffocate BRH and its inhabitants.
  • The introduction of a cruel stepmother led me to wonder whether we'd have a "Flowers in the Attic" type of story or more of a "Mommy Dearest" vibe - I would have enjoyed either one.  Cruella's attitude toward her stepchildren (even her own son, Lucien) is one of disdain.  She only puts up with them to appease her new husband, but when his back is turned its all about the evil eye.  Of course, when he disagreed with something she's done, she just used her feminine wiles to sway him her way.  
  • Its all about the "benjamins"!  Yep, money is always a part of these stories involving huge estates.  After all, its not cheap to keep a house that big running, right?  So, what did Mr. Alton do to save the family home - did I forget to mention that Cruella has money?  You guessed it - he married her for her money.  Isn't that just awful?  Then again, since its Cruella, who really feels that badly for her.  Especially when you find out that she had dated Mr. Alton before and he broke her heart to marry his beloved Nancy - the late wife that Cruella is now replacing!?! How crazy is that? 
  • Young  love/lust between step-siblings - its rather trite and predictable, but somehow it just works.  From their first glimpse of each other, you know that Amber and Lucien are smitten.  Of course, they have to pretend to despise each other for appearance sake.  After all, Amber's twin Toby hates Lucien on principal, so she has to as well.  Plus, the sneaking around makes for a juicier love story, right? You can't help but feel the brightness that their love brings to a dark and unhappy home - its beyond sweet.  However, they are step-siblings, so I couldn't help but think "ew".  I get that technically they have different biological parents, but nonetheless they are related now and to me that is just a "no".  Regardless, you can only imagine what happens when/if they get caught together...hmm...I wonder what Cruella will do?
  • Lorna's obsession with BRH is fierce.  She's determined to figure out why she's drawn to this dark and crumbling estate.  She's determined to find out about the photos her mother kept of the house.  She's determined to ignore her family and fiance's protestations about the creepy house as the site for her upcoming wedding.  She's determined to do as she pleases when it comes to BRH - even if it means putting up with the creepy owner and her sidekick. 
So many more things happened that I loved about the story, but I don't want to give it all away.  Suffice it to say, Black Rabbit Hall is a book you must experience for your self!  Its Gothic nature makes for such a creepy, engaging read - I enjoyed it to bits.  Plus, all the drama that happens in and out of the house - Oh my!  This story is chock full of love, death, loss, and family history. Its makes for such a fantastic reading experience.  I would happily recommend it to fans of Gothic novels, fans looking for a new great read - you will LOVE this book!!


Lark said...

I love a good Gothic read; what's better than crumbling old estates, ghosts, and a mystery? This one sounds like a fun weekend novel. Now if only I hadn't just checked out a bunch of books that I have to read first....so many books, so little time! :)

Bellezza said...

Oh, I can't wait to get into it now! I loved Rebecca so much, and hoped this would be in a similar vein. It sounds wonderful from your review, and I'm doubly glad I accepted it now.

Dot said...

This sounds fantastic, great review!

Nadia said...

Lark, you will definitely enjoy this one then :) I know what you mean - there are so many good books to read.

M, enjoy and let me know what you think!

Dot, I think you'll like it.