It was very cold in the winter of 1899 and that chill permeates this story. Lady Agatha is turned out of the home she thought was hers after her father’s death, by her wicked cousin Clarence. He sends her to live with her ‘new father’ a taciturn worker on the estate. Agatha is determined to find out the real truth and at the funeral of her father she meets Bryn, who lives with a truly terrifying old man on the island where the family is buried, and he helps her to find out the secret. There are some very frightening moments including that when Agatha is shut in Rose’s tomb, but gradually the secret is revealed, and in a magnificent denouement, Clarence gets his just deserts and all is well.
This is a Gothic story, very well told, with a beautiful and brave heroine, a villain, tombs, a missing opal, a huge fire and a very terrifying dog. But there is humour, especially in the character of Susan the goose. Most of all there is love in Thomas, Agatha’s ‘new’ father whose tragic past she reveals and Bryn’s devotion despite his own appalling life, and that makes this a very rounded story which will appeal. Lucy Strange is going from strength to strength with her stories, each one very different, but very, very readable.