Publication: 20th August 2020 – Trapeze
An infamous seance. A house burdened by grief. A secret that can no longer stay buried.
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 and seven months pregnant, Louisa is asked by her employer to travel to Clewer Hall in Sussex to photograph the contents of the house for auction. Desperate for money after falling on hard times, she accepts the commission.
On arrival, she learns Clewer Hall was host to an infamous séance in 1896, the consequences of which still haunt the family. Before the Clewer’s leave England for good, the lady of the house has asked those who attended the original séance to recreate the evening. Louisa soon becomes embroiled in the strange happenings of the house, unravelling the longheld secrets of what happened that night thirty years before… and discovers her own fate is entwined with Clewer Hall’s.
An exquisitely crafted mystery that invites the reader into the crumbling Clewer Hall to help unlock its secrets alongside the unforgettable Louisa Drew.
Good morning and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Quickening, the new novel by Rhiannon Ward.
What drew me to this novel was the blurb: a haunted house full of mystery and secrets? It sounded really good and really good it is indeed. I found the story fascinating and thrilling and the characters very interesting.
In 1920s, everyone had lost somebody they loved, either during World War I or the Spanish influence and, in some cases, to both, and many people turned to mediums to contact the loved ones they lost. Louisa Drew knows loss and grief having lost her husband to the war and her two sons to the influence. Newly married and with a baby soon on the way, Louisa feels trapped in her second marriage and she misses the family she lost, so when she is offered the commission to photograph Clewer Hall, in Sussex, before it goes on sale, she accepts right away, despite a few warnings that the house has a certain reputation. Clewer Hall is remembered as the setting of an infamous séance in 1896 which will now be recreated with its original attendees, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
The Quickening is a bit historical fiction, a bit ghost story, a bit mystery thriller, all mixed up perfectly together under the brilliant pen of Rhiannon Ward. I loved the beautiful and bewitching descriptions that made Clewer Hall come so alive in my mind that I could picture its rooms, its hallways, its walls.
The story is told from Louisa Drew’s point of view. I really liked this character. I found her smart and strong. What I really like about this character is her independence, especially at a time when women barely had the right to vote. She accepts the job and travels to Sussex without talking about it with her husband. As soon as she arrives at Clewer Hall, she knows that something strange is going on. When she sees a child in the garden that no one else sees and when she hears the piano playing on its own, she knows she is not imagining it. And the strange incidents that hit some of the inhabitants of the house lead her to investigate on her own, because they are not simply incidents, right?
Would I recommend The Quickening? Yes, I definitely would. It is well-written, very descriptive, compelling, suspenseful, and claustrophobic. There are buried secrets to unveil, ghost stories, supernatural elements, and an ending that I found perfect.
A huge thank you Alex and Trapeze for inviting me to join the blog tour and providing me with a copy of the novel.