Megan Melvick has spent years avoiding her inheritance, the dark and disquieting family estate Benbrae, now home only to her distant, aristocratic father, and her sister Melissa, dying quietly in an upstairs bedroom. Trapped behind her unreliable hearing aids and vulnerable to what others want her to see, Megan is unable to find the answers she wants: why is there a new woman on her father’s arm? And why has their absent mother not returned to say a final goodbye to Melissa?
Benbrae has always been a place of loss and misfortune for Megan, but as the Melvick family diminishes still further, she must ask one final question. If there is a curse on the house, will she be its next victim?
Megan has kept herself hidden away from her family for several years, but now her father has summoned her home as her older sister Melissa is on her death bed. She reluctantly returns home, hoping that the memories don’t overwhelm her once again. Megan has used her hearing loss as an excuse to shy away from difficult situations, but she is certain that now her sister is dying, her estranged mother Beth will return after walking out on her children, and her marriage without so much as a backwards glance.
Tragedy seems to follow the Melvick family wherever they go, from a death at Melissa’s wedding, to Beth’s sudden disappearance from their lives. Megan has only ever had one childhood friend, the strong willed Carla, who was written off as a ‘troubled teen’ by authorities. She comes from a very different background to Megan, but when her father starts working for the Melvick family as their gardener, the girls both feel as outsiders in their own way – and this is what draws them towards one another.
The story is told from the alternating perspectives of Megan and Carla, both women have very different views on what has taken place over the years, and as we ask the question ‘Is the house cursed? or is it something else entirely.. As the story progresses the mystery deepens, and we learn more about these women, and the tragedies they have – and continue to face.
This is a gripping read that had me engrossed from the very beginning. The story has lots of varying threads that leaves you questioning everything that takes place. Focusing on a dysfunctional family that has faced more than their fair share of tragedy throughout the years. The way in which the story is told is captivating and has you perched on the edge of your seat as you try and guess what is coming next.
The characters are well fleshed out and have complex, captivating stories that add to the depth and drive of this book. The dynamics between Megan and Carla are fascinating, allowing you to see the varying ways their different lifestyles have impacted upon their life at present.
A brilliantly written, well paced read that had me invested to the very end.
About the Author
Caro Ramsay is the Glaswegian author of the critically acclaimed Anderson and Costello series, the first of which, Absolution, was shortlisted for the CWA’s New Blood Dagger for best debut of the year. The ninth book in the series, The Suffering of Strangers, was longlisted for the McIlvanney Prize 2018.
@CaroRamsayBooks | caroramsay.com
*Thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours, Black Thorn books and Caro Ramsay for providing me with a gifted copy of this book in return for my honest review. All thoughts are entirely my own and not influenced in any way.*