Publisher: Black and White Publishing
Publication date: April 2016
The narrative of Abigale Hall possesses a progressive foreboding with snatches of nightmares for the inhabitants who are unfortunate enough to be offered employment there.
Notorious to the locals and virtually anonymous to outsiders, Thornycroft, an imposing house with a corridor named Abigale Hall, has been the cause of much concern over the years, and not because the edge of its deep quarry is obscured by fog either.
There’s an oppressive environment which allows all manner of strangeness to thrive; the master with nasty, hacking cough, the housekeeper and her vicious ways, the portrait gallery whose faces sneer at onlookers, and the library devoid of books all signal something isn’t quite right.
Its existence is as yet unknown to two sisters orphaned by the war. They reside with their aunt Bess who tolerates their presence out of duty. One of the sisters, Rebecca, has a few issues and has experienced difficulties since the death of their father. She repetitively counts in times of stress, and you’ll discover why as you read the story. The elder sibling, Eliza, has a boyfriend called Peter and a job at the Palladium, but also skivvies for her ungrateful relative who enjoys her own free time, leaving Rebecca’s care to anyone else so long as it doesn’t involve her. Needless to say when certain circumstances permit and employment is swiftly arranged at Thornycroft, aunt Bess welcomes the benefits it will bring. But the arrangement is not agreeable with everybody…
What follows is a series of mysterious edginess as the sisters’ existing lives are gradually erased. They are to observe obedience with no questions asked. The upheaval signals subtle shifts in Rebecca’s behaviour leaving Eliza feeling isolated with only the rattle of the old walls for company and to contemplate if any one would miss them; their parents are dead, their aunt wishes they were, and Peter has no way of knowing where to locate them if he wanted to – that poor bloke doesn’t know the half of it.
While there’s not an overly complicated storyline I did lose my thread a couple of times as an eerie division of reality took hold momentarily. This certainly added to the ominous atmosphere presiding over the girls’ fate, but I did find myself back-tracking to confirm my thoughts before continuing once or twice. The second half of the book picked up pace to allow the pieces to fall into place, and it worked up to quite the unexpected crescendo!
Without a doubt Abigale Hall is cloaked with an unnerving surrealness. There’s also the bonus of some terrifically sinister characters to question the motives of, much spittle to let fly from decrepit lips, and many, many bowls of congealed porridge that will remain forever undigested. Yep, I quite liked this one.
(Source: My own copy, purchased for Kindle)
(Courtesy of Amazon UK)
Two orphaned sisters in a house of secrets…
On a foggy evening in 1947, seventeen-year-old Eliza and her troubled little sister Rebecca are banished by their aunt and sent to work at an isolated Welsh mansion. But there are rumours of missing maidservants and a ghost that stalks the deserted halls… Wandering through the mansion’s dusty rooms, Eliza finds blood-spattered books, crumpled photographs and portraits of a mysterious woman – clues to a terrible past that might just become Eliza’s future.
As Eliza unravels a mystery that has endured for decades, Rebecca falls under the spell of cruel housekeeper Mrs Pollard, who will stop at nothing to keep the house’s secrets. But can the sisters uncover the truth and escape back to London before they meet a dreadful fate?
(Courtesy of Amazon UK)
Lauren A. Forry was brought up in the woods of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, USA where her FBI agent father and book-loving mother raised her on a diet of The X-Files and RL Stine. After earning her BA in Cinema Studies from New York University, she moved to London where she earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Kingston University. There she was awarded the Faber and Faber Creative Writing MA Prize for her dissertation, which would become her debut novel, Abigale Hall. Her short stories have since appeared in multiple sci-fi and horror anthologies. She currently resides in the woods.