Author : Rhiannon Ward
Title : The Quickening
Pages : 330
Publisher : Trapeze
Publication date : August 20, 2020
Source : Purchased copy
| ABOUT THE BOOK |
England, 1925. Louisa Drew lost her husband in the First World War and her six-year-old twin sons in the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. Newly re-married to a war-traumatised husband and seven months pregnant, Louisa is asked by her employer to travel to Clewer Hall in Sussex where she is to photograph the contents of the house for auction.
She learns Clewer Hall was host to an infamous séance in 1896, and that the lady of the house has asked those who gathered back then to come together once more to recreate the evening. When a mysterious child appears on the grounds, Louisa finds herself compelled to investigate and becomes embroiled in the strange happenings of the house. Gradually, she unravels the long-held secrets of the inhabitants and what really happened thirty years before… and discovers her own fate is entwined with that of Clewer Hall’s.
| MY THOUGHTS |
In case you are not aware, Rhiannon Ward is an alias for author Sarah Ward. Some of you may be familiar with her absolutely brilliant crime fiction series featuring DC Connie Childs. If you’re not, you know what to do. Anyway, that was all I needed to know when I heard about The Quickening. It marks a bit of a departure from the DC Childs series but fear not, there is still a crime to solve!
The year is 1925. Louisa Drew travels to Clewer Hall in Sussex, where she is to photograph the house and its contents for auction. Clewer Hall hosted an infamous séance years before and Louisa learns that that evening will be recreated during her stay. But why? Slowly but surely, Louisa unravels the secrets of Clewer Hall and its residents.
So, let’s see. A mansion? Secrets and skeletons in closets? A possible haunting? What more could you possibly ask for? I immediately got excited and couldn’t wait to get stuck into this story. It quickly becomes apparent that The Quickening is more than just a murder mystery. By placing the story in this particular time period, Rhiannon Ward is able to shine a spotlight on the tough times many families went through even after the First World War had ended. Many lost fathers, husbands and sons. And so séances and the, highly remotely, possibility of reconnecting with loved lost ones was a hugely popular thing. Of course, many took this as an opportunity to earn some easy money. Is Ada, the medium at Clewer Hall, a charlatan too?
The women who had to take care of themselves during the war were suddenly meant to go back to their spot in the kitchen. This is true for Louisa as well. She is on her second marriage and despite the financial struggle they find themselves in, her husband would prefer her not to work at all. Will defying him get her into trouble? And why is everyone at Clewer Hall seemingly so fascinated by the fact that Louisa is pregnant?
A healthy dose of historical fiction with a dash of a ghost story and a pinch of a murder mystery turns into an intriguing and captivating gothic tale. Personally I felt there was a bit of a dip in the second half of the novel but I still enjoyed it immensely. The Quickening is captivating, compelling, claustrophobic and has a constant sense of impending doom. Rhiannon Ward’s writing is wonderfully descriptive and immersive, making me feel I was right there in the chilling mansion. As for the mysteries, I thought I had everything figured out, basking in my smugness throughout, and was proven utterly wrong. I do so love it when that happens. Thoroughly enjoyed this one and I hope there will be more of Rhiannon Ward in this genre!
The Quickening is available to buy!
20 Books of Summer : 20/20