May 20, 2018

House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick ~ an excellent 5 star read that moves seamlessly through time

House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book begins in the 1600s at the death bed of Elizabeth Stewart, the Winter Queen. The story immediately fascinated me. Within the next several pages the story flashed back to the present day, with the main character, Holly, being awakened by her cell phone. Her niece was on the phone telling her that her brother was missing. She left her loveless relationship behind and went to Oxfordshire to find her brother Ben. She stays at the family’s ancestral home and an interesting cast of characters become part of her circle, including a slightly brooding character named Mark.

The story moves back and forth between the story of Elizabeth Stewart and William Craven in the 1600s and Holly, Mark, and her friends in the village in present day. Eventually, yet another historical story makes its entrance when Holly finds an old diary in the house, and the story of Lavinia Flyte becomes another part of the historical side of a super intricately woven story. To say much more would likely ruin the plot for other readers.

This story was fascinating with its intricate detailing, without being boring, as some historicals can sometimes be. The historical end of the story with Elizabeth is from a third person perspective, where you can see what everyone is thinking and saying. Since Lavinia’s diary is the source of her story, everything is told in first person point of view, with mesmerizing detail. And finally, the story from Holly’s perspective is third person limited point of view, where we see all, but know more about what Holly thinks and feels than the other characters.

The location in Oxfordshire is very atmospheric, driving home the feel of an old European town. This may have been one of the best settings I’ve enjoyed in a long time. Also, the moves back and forth through time where done seamlessly. My favorite parts, however, were the part that featured Holly and the present day.

This author is clearly very skilled. She was able to integrate three separate story lines that converge in this incredible story. Yes, there is a little bit of romance, but this is not a romance novel. Rather, it’s a fascinating story about people. I enjoyed this story so much that the characters became very really to me, especially Holly and Mark, and I didn’t want the story to end, so I put off reading the last couple chapters because I knew that a story, and characters I had grown to love, would come to an end.

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