Review of a Gothic Romance by Kristina Schram
I love a good haunted house story, so when I saw this book on the also-boughts under my novel The Lady in Yellow, the spooky mansion on the cover drew me in. I had to try it out.
The opening is classic Gothic Romance:
When a cryptic letter arrives from Evalina Filmore’s two aunts, she travels to England to find out what they want, figuring this will be the chance to experience the romantic adventure she has so often read about in her beloved gothic novels.
Evalina is a young American girl who comes from a family of actors who neglect and abuse her. They send her to stay with two eccentric aunts living in a remote mansion in the English countryside. In the opening scene, Evalina boards a train and soon finds her compartment invaded by a very attractive but disturbing young man who piques her curiosity. Hearing her name, he rudely rebuffs her, steeping on her oh-so-senstive toes.
Naturally, she cannot forget him.
From the train, Evie takes a coach. The coachman lets her off at a fork in the road, forcing her to choose which path to take in an attempt to find her aunts’ house. She passes through a dark forest in the rain, leaving her heavy suitcase in a bush, intending to to retrieve it later on. When she arrives at the door to the house with the suitcase mysteriously at her side, we know we are in the realm of the paranormal.
The strange aunts get along together like chalk and cheese. There is clearly a rivalry between the uptight, spinsterish Aunt Priscilla and her wild, erotic younger sister, Aunt Kellie. And they are not very nice to Evalina. There seems to be a plot against Evalina, a sense that perhaps a sacrifice is at hand. She overhears the aunts complaining that her father had sent Evie in his place, and that she, being of his bloodline, would have to do.
This mystery seems to be tied up with the Wrath and Evie’s ability to walk through it unscathed.
What does the name mean? It seems to refer to the woods. But perhaps it is a force of nature. Since passing through it, Evalina’s insecurities give way to her own dark side. The stranger on the train, Nate, tells Evie of an ancient feud between the her family and his that still lurks in the shadows. Her aunts are hostile, and then there is the story of the stately home once built in the Wrath that is no longer there. It’s heir, a kind of Faery King character that Evie calls Gabriel, hangs around the area as if the house still stood. He seems to act as leader and guardian over a group of eerie young people who regularly abduct people from the village and drag them into the Wrath. Like faeries….
Are they the Wrath?
These tantalizing questions are wrapped up in the most unexpeceted way. Evaline Filmore comes of a very odd family. Life and death hinge on her decisions and actions, forcing her face the true nature of the Wrath.
Want to read The Wrath?