Friday, August 22, 2014

Dolly

The last time Edward Cayley laid eyes on the "dun-colored fens" and "huge oppressive skies" of Iyot Lock, he was just a frail, timid boy, an orphan. He, along with his tempestuous cousin Leonora, had been sent to spend the summer with their Aunt Kestrel at her home, Iyot House. Forty years have passed since that fateful summer, and both he and Leonora have returned for the reading of Aunt Kestrel's will. But Edward's arrival awakens something there, first at the old, lonely churchyard, then at the empty house itself. Something . . . an inexplicable compulsion seemingly driven by the soft rustling of a memory struggling to free itself of the past. Yes, those things, accompanied by something much, much darker. That night, unable to sleep, Edward finally remembers what Leonora did that summer long ago, the unforgiveable act she committed in a childish fit of rage which they'll both pay for in the end.

Dolly is Susan Hill's fifth ghost story, and like those that have come before it (The Woman in Black, The Mist in the Mirror, The Man in the Picture, and The Small Hand), it's an expertly crafted and enjoyable read--for those of us who enjoy such dark tales, that is. Hill's strength as a writer lies in her vivid depictions of place and time, as well as her ability to slowly darken the mood with each passing chapter, effectively heightening the reader's sense of dread. With fall coming and Halloween right around the corner, keep this book in mind when you're looking for something deliciously creepy to curl up with on a dark evening.

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