1906: A large manor house, Wake’s End, sits on the edge of a bleak Fen, just outside the town of Wakenhyrst. It is the home of Edmund Stearn and his family – a historian, scholar and land-owner, he’s an upstanding member of the local community. But all is not well at Wake’s End. Edmund dominates his family tyrannically, in particular daughter Maud. When Maud’s mother dies in childbirth and she’s left alone with her strict, disciplinarian father, Maud’s isolation drives her to her father’s study, where she happens upon his diary.
During a walk through the local church yard, Edmund spots an eye in the undergrowth. His terror is only briefly abated when he discovers its actually a painting, a ‘doom’, taken from the church. It’s horrifying in its depiction of hell, and Edmund wants nothing more to do with it despite his historical significance. But the doom keeps returning to his mind. The stench of the Fen permeates the house, even with the windows closed. And when he lies awake at night, he hears a scratching sound – like claws on the wooden floor…
Wakenhyrst is a terrifying ghost story, an atmospheric slice of gothic, a brilliant exploration of the boundaries between the real and the supernatural, and a descent into the mind of a psychopath.
PUBLICATION DATE: 4th April 2019
This book was everything my little gothic heart could have dreamt of and more. Set in a manor house in the fens of Norfolk back in the early 1900s, it reveals the mystery of the events leading up to a murder.
The book is written from the perspective of Maud, an intellectual teenage girl who has been cursed with an utter bastard of a father, and Edmund, aforementioned bastard of a father via his diaries.
Edmund is descending into madness and it takes time to uncover what form it takes and whether or not there are supernatural influences at work.
Maud is a highly sympathetic main character, she tries her best to do what’s right under the rule of her tyrant of a father but, ultimately, she’s an angry woman. Angry women are my favourite to read about because angry women get things done.
The story is suspenseful and atmospheric, I enjoyed the experience of reading it and would gladly read anything else written by this author. I would recommend it for fans of historical fiction and gothic thrillers. This book is being advertised as a gothic horror novel, I’m not sure I’d use the word horror to describe it rather than ‘psychological thriller’.