Rebecca McCormick. Powered by Blogger.

The Silence of Herondale by Joan Aiken - Review

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

I bought this book for Lee a couple of years ago because he likes gothic novels and I thought he'd enjoy this short book. He read it ages ago and did like it, and then I forgot about it until we were sorting out some books and he said I should read it, so I did. It took me longer than I thought because it's quite dense. But I did like it.

I read Joan Aiken when I was little and absolutely loved her, but I didn't know she had written any books for adults. I had a book of short stories by her called The Last Slice of Rainbow that I read over and over again, and in fact I've just bought it on eBay because I'd love to read it again as an adult. I must have seen this on my travels somewhere online and bought it for Lee. It's nice to revisit her as an author!

So, the book's main character is Deborah Lindsay. She's in her twenties and is an orphan after her parents were killed in a car accident. She is Canadian but living in Britain and in desperate need of a job. She applies to be the governess for a thirteen year old, Carreen Gilmartin. Carreen's aunt, Mrs Morne, is looking for a governess for her, but Carreen is no ordinary thirteen year old. Instead she is an illustrated playwright and is a prodigy, and has made quite a lot of money. Mrs Morne gives Deborah the job, and then gets to go shopping for Carreen. Deborah is then accused of shoplifting, but Mrs Morne saves her, something which comes back to bite Deborah later. 

Then Carreen goes missing, before Deborah can even meet her. It is thought that she has gone to the ancestral family home in Herondale in Yorkshire, to see her uncle John, Mrs Morne's brother. He lives in a huge hall on the edge of Herondale village but he is in ailing health and about to die. Deborah leaves immediately, hoping to find Carreen there. 

In the village she finds mostly silence and suspicion. The caretaker type person, Mr Bridie, and the housekeeper, Mrs Lewthwaite, have both left the house as John has been taken into hospital. Deborah opens up the house and finds that John's bedroom is wet, a window having been left open. She finds his gun and keeps it close. She notices a few other odd things. Carreen does indeed arrive, alongside her new found cousin, Jeremy, who belongs to another of Mrs Morne's brothers. Deborah is immediately suspicious of him, especially when the gun goes missing and a heavy weight on the pump is cut and could have injured someone.

All this is exacerbated by the breaking out of prison of a murderer known as the Slipper Killer. Jock Nash comes from Herondale and is expected to make his way back there. He murdered a man for digging up a rare orchid on the moors nearby. Police turn up in the village to search for him, but there is still a veil of silence. 

In all I did like the book and found it a good story, but I didn't think it quite hit the mark of being truly creepy or frightening. The setting - remote Yorkshire village, lots of snow etc - is brilliant, but it wasn't quite used to its full potential. I liked Deborah a lot and wanted her to succeed. I did like some of the twists towards the end. In all I'm giving this four out of five. 

No comments:

Post a Comment


Blogger news


Most Read