Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase
|Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Louise Jones|
|Summary: A young family is struck by a terrible tragedy, but everyone has different ways of coping. A bad thing is due to happen at the end of the summer holidays, but is anyone powerful enough to stop it?|
|Buy? yes||Borrow? yes|
|Pages: 400||Date: July 2015|
|Publisher: Michael Joseph|
|External links: Author's website|
At Black Rabbit Hall, time goes syrupy slow. None of the clocks work properly, but an hour at Black Rabbit is said to last twice as long as a London one, and you don't get a quarter of the things done. Every holiday, the Alton family swap the hustle and bustle of London life for this secluded Cornish retreat, a place that is theirs and theirs alone.
Life for the Alton children seems idyllic, with a devoted, loving, mother and father and absolute freedom to explore the sprawling house and surrounding areas, including the woodland and cove. However, one stormy evening, everything changes when fate strikes at the very heart of this close-knit family. The aftermath will reverberate for decades to come.
Black Rabbit Hall tells the story in a dual narrative style, alternating between the late 1960s and the modern day. Amber Alton, the teenage daughter of the family, shares her experiences growing up in Black Rabbit Hall and explains how the bad thing changed everyone and everything forever. In the modern-day narrative, Lorna and her boyfriend are looking for the perfect place to hold their wedding reception. Lorna is drawn to a rundown, secluded house and forms an inexplicably strong bond with the place, bordering on obsessive. She makes it her mission to find out all she can about the house and the fate of the Alton children.
Although the book has an eclectic collection of memorable characters, the undisputed star of the show is Black Rabbit Hall itself. It is one of those houses that has its own personality, with its peeling plaster, strange labyrinth of rooms, clocks that don't run properly, hydrangea growing up through the middle of the ballroom floor and hidden secrets aplenty. Of course, the Cornish setting will inevitably draw comparisons with Manderley of Rebecca fame, and although the two stories are very different, there are plenty of interesting parallels which will delight fans of the Du Maurier classic.
The difference between a good story and a great one has a lot to do with the setting, characters and pace. Getting one of these elements wrong can be costly. Fortunately, Chase is an extremely talented author and manages to create a cast of well-written characters and set them against the stunning wild backdrop of the Cornish countryside, with a plot so absorbing that Black Rabbit time will creep up out of the pages and envelop you completely. Forget the housework. This is one of those books that demands complete attention and lingers in your mind for days after finishing the last page.
To say I loved this book would be an understatement. I became just as obsessed as the protagonist, Lorna and was desperate to find out what happened to this semi-feral brood of red-headed children, running wild over the Cornish countryside. The result did not disappoint and I eagerly await the next novel from the remarkable Eve Chase.
If you like this type of book, you will love Bhalla Strand by Sarah Maine, another immersive book with a dual-narrative where the house takes centre stage.
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