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Bell Tower, The: A haunted house mystery (A Nell West and Michael Flint Haunted House Story) Hardcover – February 1, 2016
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From Publishers Weekly
In Rayne's middling sixth Haunted House mystery (after 2015's Deadlight Hall), Oxford professor Michael Flint and antiques dealer Nell West attend the revival of a festival known as St. Benedict's Revels in the Dorset village of Rede Abbas. All that is left of the old Benedictine monastery in Rede Abbas is the crumbling bell tower gradually being reclaimed by the sea. Local historian Gerald Orchard provides some history and some legends about the Glaum family, who donated the massive bell, and the church's suppression under Cromwell in the 1540s. At the heart of the tale is a mysterious, long-lost piece of music, "Thaisa's Song." Only villager Maeve Eynon knows the power of the song and some of its history from an old book retrieved from the ruins. Flint and West, who become intrigued by a fragment of music and a journal left by a monk in the 19th century, may become modern victims of an ancient wrong, but neither the mystery nor the ghost story generates much tension. (Feb.)\n
"The perfect mixture of historical fiction, . . . the supernatural; and the intense suspense proves to be a winning combination. This book would make a great movie!" (S Brazier, reviewer)
“The haunted-house theme is one of the most venerable in the genre, and Rayne has given it new life in this series, drawing again and again on the secrets contained within structures built originally to keep us safe” (Booklist Starred Review)
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Top Customer Reviews
This is the second novel I've read by Sarah Rayne and I did enjoy it, but this isn't so much a haunted house mystery as a haunted history of the characters involved in the 1538 segment of the book, then moving forward. The modern times revolve around a clause found in the new lease signed for the enlarged premises of the antiques shop at Quires Court which mentions monks asserting their right to hold St. Benedicts Revels. After doing some research it was found that a modern version of the revels is going to be held as the Rebe Abbas Revels in Rebe Abbas, Dorset which will be attended by one of Beth's classes so Nell and Michael decide to go enjoy the weekend also. Before leaving Oxford Nell finds unsettling words carved into the stone wall when renovators remove the plaster. Her curiosity is piqued for who Theodora was and why she scratched the plea regarding Thaisa's fate into the stone in October 1850. The connections to Thaisa's song continue in Rebe Abbas with Nell West unwittingly disturbing the uneasy life of one of the residents.
As I said, this isn't as much a haunted house mystery as it is just haunted history. The story is told to a great extent through found documents which were written by Benedictine monks in different time periods with slightly disconcerting skips forward into emails between members of the committees who are in charge of the Rebe Abbas Revels. A quick read, but one where you need to pay attention to know which part of history you find yourself in at the moment.
I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley.
This is a good, old-fashioned scary story. The history that our characters discover about both the antique store and the bell tower is both interesting and chilling. Although I did not become attached to the characters of this book, they, nonetheless, carry the story well. The perfect mixture of historical fiction, complete with the horror of Cromwell raiding monasteries and trying to ‘purify’ the church; modern day realism; the supernatural; and the intense suspense proves to be a winning combination. This book would make a great movie!
If you enjoy such a mix of genres, with this mix of the current and historic and some artfully (as it seemed to me) recreated "historic documents," then this may well be a book for you. It is definitely a very enjoyable break from some of the more heavy reading I have been involved with lately.
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.