Book review blog
|Posted by mhedwig on July 3, 2017 at 2:50 PM|
Not recommended. I was drawn to this because of my lifelong love of ghost stories, but you could say this one left me...dispirited.
A decrepit old mansion in Jacksonville Florida holds 6 lives, and one spirit, captive. Three of the occupants are elderly sisters, children of the house's original owner, a greedy, loveless woman called "little Manette." The other three inhabitants are, more or less, drifters: Lane Hale and her son Theo, who are actually relatives of the old sisters; Lane is Little Manette's granddaughter. (The book is confusingly overpopulated and would have benefited from a chart of the characters and their relationships.) Mother and son have been left to fend for themselves after the abandonment of their husband and father.
And there's Dell Duval--an assumed name; he's amnesiac after being run down by a taxi cab, but feels a strong connection to the house that he must explore. He camps out under the lattice-enclosed space beneath the front porch, known only to the boy Theo, and sneaks into the house when everyone is asleep.
The spirit is that of Little Manette's mother, called Mormama, and she appears repeatedly to 12-year-old Theo, frightening and angering him with her warnings that the house is not safe and he and his mother must escape. But how? They have no money, and Lane's efforts to find employment have so far been futile. They are stuck at the mercy of the old sisters.
As for Dell, he secretly befriends the kindest of the sisters, Ivy, who is in a wheelchair after a childhood accident. Visiting her stealthily at nighttime, he initially wants to discover whether he is a relative and therefore entitled to some of whatever fortune may be locked up in the old pile, but gradually he comes to care for her. Clues as to his true identity may reside on the flash drive that was one of his few possessions to survive his taxi accident, but he can't bear to open it.
We get a great deal of the backstory of the cold-hearted Manette, who loved possessions and barely tolerated her husband or children. Her neglect caused the death of her three-year-old son.
The plot slowly unfolds, told from the multiple points of view of the characters--some in third person, others--Mormama, Theo and Lane--in first. I am no prude, but I wearied of Theo and Lane's constant profanity and weird locutions like "Woah; Wuow; zibledy; Like, zot!" And I found the pacing tryingly slow.
Finally the ending brings some drama and the solution to the mystery of Dell's true identity. But by then I was more than ready to be rid of the claustrophobic company of this unhappy family and their hanger-on, Dell.