Martin Edwards ~ Blackstone Fell
Yorkshire, 1606. A man vanishes from a locked gatehouse in a remote village. 300 years later, it happens again.
Autumn 1930. Journalist Nell Fagan knows there’s only one person who can get to the bottom of this mystery: Rachel Savernake. But someone wants Nell dead, and soon, while investigating a series of recent deaths at Blackstone Sanatorium, she’s missing entirely.
Looking for answers, Rachel travels to lonely Blackstone Fell, with its eerie moor, deadly waters and sinister tower. With help from Jacob Flint – who’s determined to expose a fraudulent medium at a séance – Rachel will risk her life to bring an end to the disappearances…
I’m still not sure how I feel about this book. On paper I should have loved it: an historical mystery from centuries ago, suddenly being investigated again due to further mysterious occurrences.
And yet it wasn’t until about halfway through that I started to find it interesting and while I enjoyed parts of the story very much, it could have been much better. In addition, not one character is likeable. This isn’t necessarily a problem in a book, but it makes it harder to engage with a story. Jacob is the least obnoxious, but Rachel was a patronising know-it-all and did not come across as believable in the slightest.
The number of deaths is impressive. Unfortunately, none makes an impact, due to the lack of character connection. There’s also a lot going on and with these sorts of books, less is often more. While the clues are there, they are very discreet and it doesn’t seem to be a reader-friendly book. Language is pretentious and wordy, which makes the book very slow and the final reveal of the mystery is underwhelming and far fetched.
In spite of this, I did enjoy the historical references and my existing knowledge helped me to work out the parts of the mystery relating to James I. The insight into mysticism and seances also works well, adding a bit of excitement and rescuing the story somewhat. The second half of the book is much better written, which also helps to improve the pace (although a few typos remain).
The sense of place is excellent; the contrast between London and Blackstone Fell is so vivid and the locations are beautifully described. The attention to detail here really helps to visualise this remote village.
Overall, it’s pretty good and works well as a standalone novel. Would I read another Rachel Savernake book? Absolutely. Will it be any time soon? Probably not.
Thanks to Sophie Ransom PR and Head of Zeus for my copy. Opinions my own.