by Ruth Ware
I love books with mysteries, and even better if it takes place in an old English manor surrounded by moors, lakes, and forests. Well, apart from Agatha Christie, Ruth Ware mysteries usually takes place in these settings. So, she has become another of my usual reads. Ironically, the similarities between the settings of these two authors have been mentioned in the book as well!
Harriet a.k.a Hal Westaway is a 21-year-old orphan living in Brighton. Having recently lost her mom to hit and run she has dropped out of her studies and running her mother’s tarot card shop on the pier in Brighton.
Hal seems like a sweet and honest girl. She, however, had an alcohol problem which resulted in her borrowing money from a loan shark. And now she is in huge debt. Add to this she barely has money for food, gas, and even electricity. In all this mess she receives a letter from a lawyer stating that her grandmother, Mrs. Westaway, has left her a part of her estate, the Trepassen House, in her will. It seems like the answer to all her problems, however, there is one glitch – Hal’s grandmother died long ago, and she is not Mrs. Westaway.
Desperate and wary of the threats of the loan shark, Hal decides to travel to the Trepassen House. She is confident that since she is a tarot card reader and very good at reading people she will be able to pass herself off as the granddaughter of Mrs. Westaway.
Hal succeeds. She not only convinces everyone she is the long lost granddaughter, but she is also welcomed and accepted by all family members with love and warmth. The house though is not what Hal expected. It is dark and gloomy, manned by a housekeeper who seems to hate her and worse yet harm her. The whole experience feels gothic! So things soon start to go awry. Hal uncovers that she isn’t the only one in that house with a secret. The house, her room, everything becomes strange and scary and Hal wants nothing more than to run away from it.
But she is unable to shake off the feeling that there is something in her past which she is unaware of. There is some strange connection she has with the house and the Westaway family. So she decides to investigate. But is she safe doing that?
This is a very straight forward mystery. There are some twists and turns, but the suspense is not really shocking. The setting like I mentioned earlier is exciting and thrilling. The characters are likable. Hal’s character is endearing; you can sympathize with her. The whole tarot card angle is fascinating and mysterious; it is the best part of this story. And I really love the nursery rhyme about the magpies that live around the Trepassen House; it adds meaning to the creepiness that seems to run through the house:
One for sorrow; Two for joy; Three for a girl; Four for a boy; Five for silver; Six for gold; Seven for a secret never to be told…
Overall a good read though not one of the best Ruth Ware books.