If you like classic Gothic novels/ghost stories and haven’t read anything by Wendy Webb, you should! Here is a review of her latest novel, “The End of Temperance Dare.”
First line: They gave her the bed by the window, the one closest to the toy box.
Summary: Former reporter Eleanor Harper becomes the director of a famous artists’ retreat near Lake Superior, Cliffside Manor. Not long after Eleanor’s arrival, she finds the kindly old woman who is the daughter of the founder and who has been director of the retreat dead in her room. Lots of wonderful spookiness ensues. Strange things happen to the artists in residence, and Eleanor herself finds that she has experiences that she can’t explain. Not all those who live at the retreat are as they seem as this story unfolds.
Highlights: Wendy Webb is a master at setting a scene, and creating a wonderful Gothic atmosphere, and she is as good at doing so for Cliffside Manor as in any of her other novels. I love the way she develops her characters in this book, making it difficult to discern a person’s true character. As I was reading I thought I knew exactly what was happening, then she would reveal some small nugget of information and I would begins to second-guess myself. A few or a few dozen pages later the story would take a new twist that would leave me guessing again. I really enjoyed the suspense and the mystery of the characters in this book.
Lowlights (or what could have been better): To be honest, I pretty much never read a book looking for holes, problems or other weaknesses, and I didn’t find any in this book. My greatest critique would be in the setting in the actual building. I could clearly see in my mind the grounds around the building, and the outside of the building, but I had a difficult time imagining what the interior of the building looked like.
FYI: I don’t think there’s anything significant to be aware of about this book. It’s a slightly different feel than Webb’s other books, but I found it satisfying. It has a classic Gothic ghost story feel, but doesn’t cross the line to horror (at least by my definition).
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