*I received a free ARC of this novel, with thanks to the author, HQ – Harper Collins UK and NetGalley. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: Some houses are never at peace.
Reeling from the death of her fiancé, Stella Marcham welcomes the opportunity to stay with her pregnant sister, Madeleine, at her imposing country mansion, Greyswick – but she arrives to discover a house of unease and her sister gripped by fear and suspicion.
Before long, strange incidents begin to trouble Stella – sobbing in the night, little footsteps on the stairs – and as events escalate, she finds herself drawn to the tragic history of the house.
Aided by a wounded war veteran, Stella sets about uncovering Greyswick’s dark and terrible secrets – secrets the dead whisper from the other side…
In the classic tradition of The Woman in Black, Anita Frank weaves a spell-binding debut of family tragedy, loss and redemption.
The Lost Ones is a cross between a classic Gothic horror story and a classic murder mystery.
One the one hand, we have the hovering threat of the asylum, cradles rocking themselves, and mysterious sobs in candlelit corridors. Then we also have an assembly of suspects, plenty of cryptic clues, and a dramatic final reveal before a shocked gathering.
The obvious comparison here is with The Woman in Black, but actually there are also hints of The Yellow Wallpaper, and even more of mysteries such as The Woman in White or any Agatha Christie classic. And Mrs Henge definitely has a touch of the Danvers about her!
The plot follows Stella as she attempts to deal with her grief at the loss of her fiance, help her sister and solve a ghostly mystery. Meanwhile, society and even her loved ones suspect all of the above as signs of insanity and emotional instability, and try to ‘help’ her to repress her feelings and opinions, and return to a model of obedient, passive submission. Luckily, Stella has the will and wit to resist, as well as the fortune of her birth and social standing.
Poor Annie Burrows, housemaid, is less fortunate. Born into a lower station in life, burdened with ‘odd’ mannerisms, and grieving the death of her father, she has plenty of adversity of her own to face. But yet these two unlikely allies both find they have a common cause when it comes to helping others and seeking justice.
The common themes throughout the story are those of mental health, female solidarity, and the dismissal of a woman’s competency for good, evil and everything in between.
An ideal story for those who love Gothic mysteries with a paranormal flavour and feminist subtext.
I always thought it strangely fitting it was Jim Burrows that plunged into the flames that night to save Lydia, though tragedy would result for both our families. It was as if the fates of the Marchams and the Burrows were inextricably entwined. And now some would say I owed Annie Burrows my life, but I chose not to dwell on that.
– Anita Frank, The Lost Ones
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The Lost Ones is available on Amazon right now.