Thursday 16 August 2018

The House at Ladywell by Nicola Slade

Family Drama / Supernatural
Various eras

The house almost edges the heroine off the pages of this book. Anyone who loves old buildings will appreciate the descriptions of Dickon’s room and the carvings of hares that turn up everywhere.

Informed that she has inherited a house from an unknown, recently deceased relative, Freya Gibson makes a flying visit to see what it is like. The scent of flowers greets her as she opens the door, despite there being no flowers in the house. She moves in within a very short time and discovers notes left by the previous incumbent telling her she must make a wreath from a rowan branch from the tree in the garden and repeat four lines of poetry to “restore the balance.”

I found the opening pages puzzling but soon caught on to the idea that every time Freya wonders what happened to previous residents, a section follows that gives the story of the most relevant event. Initially this was jarring, but little by little we and Freya learn the history of the house and its people. Actually, we do, but of course Freya does not, though sometimes neighbours can give her some details of what happened long ago.

Folklore plays a strong part in this story. The house is under the protection of the Lady, the original owner of the house who sometimes reappears as a hare or signals her approval with the scent of flowers. The main characters Freya and Patrick are engaging, and the supporting characters, especially Mary Draper, were very well done. The subordinate characters are important, because not only do we need to discover the history of the house, but there is a mystery about Freya’s birth, too, that must be uncovered.

An appealing book with its modern story of a damaging love affair leaving doubts about loving again, and the historical episodes ranging from Roman to much more recent times. Sometimes I wondered if there was a need to cram in so many different threads, but the whole kept me reading avidly until I turned the last page.

© Jen Black

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  1. Thank you so much for this great review, I'm so glad you enjoyed The House at Ladywell. And I'm over the moon to be shortlisted for Book of the Month - the icing on the cake! x


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