Title: Abigale Hall by Lauren A. Forry
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
Genre: Historical, Young Adult, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 376 pages
Book Rating: C
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss
Amid the terror of the Second World War, seventeen-year-old Eliza and her troubled little sister Rebecca have had their share of tragedy, having lost their mother to the Blitz and their father to suicide. Forced to leave London to work for the mysterious Mr. Brownwell at Abigale Hall, they soon learn that the worst is yet to come. The vicious housekeeper, Mrs. Pollard, seems hell-bent on keeping the ghostly secrets of the house away from the sisters and forbids them from entering the surrounding town—and from the rumors that circulate about Abigale Hall. When Eliza uncovers some blood-splattered books, ominous photographs, and portraits of a mysterious woman, she begins to unravel the mysteries of the house, but with Rebecca falling under Mrs. Pollard’s spell, she must act quickly to save her sister, and herself, from certain doom.
Perfect for readers who hunger for the strange, Abigale Hall is an atmospheric debut novel where the threat of death looms just beyond the edge of every page. Lauren A. Forry has created a historical ghost story where the setting is as alive as the characters who inhabit it and a resonant family drama of trust, loyalty, and salvation.
Abigale Hall by Lauren A. Forry is a creepy Gothic mystery set in Wales during the late 1940s.
Having lost both of their parents during the World War II, seventeen year old Eliza Haverford and her troubled twelve year old sister Rebecca live with their unpleasant Aunt Bess in a rundown apartment in London. Although the second World War has finally ended, jobs, food, housing and clothing remain scarce so Bess seizes the opportunity to rid herself of her troublesome nieces and make a tidy sum of money in the bargain. Eliza and Rebecca are sent against their will to Wales where they begin working for Mrs. Pollard, the housekeeper at the desolate, ramshackle Thornecroft estate. When Eliza begins experiencing increasingly eerie phenomena, she starts looking into the mysterious disappearances of other young women who worked for Mrs. Pollard. Equally concerning is Rebecca’s behavior which is growing more disturbing the longer they remain at the estate. Unbeknownst to Eliza, her London boyfriend Peter Lamb is desperately searching for her, but will he find her before it is too late? And if he cannot, will Eliza find a way to save herself from the same fate as her predecessors?
Thornecroft is a very atmospheric setting and Mrs. Pollard, caretaker Mr. Drewry and the mysterious Mr. Brownawell add to the overall sinister feel of the novel. Eliza is a strong lead character but her quest for answers are quickly shutdown by the very formidable housekeeper. Eliza tries to pry information out of the nearby town’s residents, but with no one but Ruth Owen willing to talk to her, she does not receive very many new details about the odd occurrences at Thornecroft. Daring to search the huge manor, Eliza does uncover very disconcerting signs that something ominous is going on, but the answers she is searching for remain elusive.
Back in London, Peter is running into trouble as he tries to figure out what has happened to Eliza. His search takes him into the very seedy underbelly of London as he follows the few clues he has managed to unearth. With a shadowy figure following his every move, Peter tenaciously refuses to give up trying to find Eliza but will his efforts to save her pay off?
While the premise of Abigale Hall is certainly intriguing, the story is a little slow paced and becomes rather repetitive. The slow parceling of information is frustrating as is Eliza’s blind devotion to her obviously very troubled sister. Her loyalty to Rebecca is understandable given their circumstances, but there comes a point where it is very obvious she is in desperate need of medical intervention. Peter is a wonderful character and his efforts to find Eliza are quite touching especially since he has to dig deep to find the courage to follow his convictions. Lauren A. Forry brings the novel to a pulse-pounding, twist-filled conclusion that will catch readers completely off-guard. An eerie, suspenseful young adult historical novel that, while imperfect, is still a chilling yet entertaining read.