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A House of Ghosts: A Mystery

A House of Ghosts: A Mystery

Написано W. C. Ryan

Озвучено Esther Wane


A House of Ghosts: A Mystery

Написано W. C. Ryan

Озвучено Esther Wane

оценки:
3.5/5 (14 оценки)
Длина:
8 hours
Издатель:
Издано:
Oct 1, 2019
ISBN:
9781974988617
Формат:
Аудиокнига

Описание

Winter 1917.

As the First World War enters its most brutal phase, back home in England, everyone is seeking answers to the darkness that has seeped into their lives. At Blackwater Abbey, on an island off the Devon coast, Lord Highmount has arranged a spiritualist gathering to contact his two sons who were lost in the conflict.

But as his guests begin to arrive, it gradually becomes clear that each has something they would rather keep hidden. Then, when a storm descends on the island, the guests find themselves trapped. Soon one of their number will die. For Blackwater Abbey is haunted in more ways than one...

Издатель:
Издано:
Oct 1, 2019
ISBN:
9781974988617
Формат:
Аудиокнига

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3.6
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  • (3/5)
    The usual who-dun-it, with so many characters who have motives that it all becomes a little confusing. I also listened to this on audio, which may partly explain my confusion. But thought this is the sort of mystery that you can guess at the conclusion, the reader is not given all of the information necessary to actually solve the mystery. There are also some acts of sabotage that take place, and I am pretty sure the reader is never told who committed them (or if different people did different things).There is a lot going on in this book, and it isn't all that long. It is nearing the end of World War I, and Kate and Donovan--both working for the UK government, in different capacities--are brought together to attend a weekend at Highmount's. Highmount is a weapons manufacturer who has also lost 2 sons in the war. He is bringing in two foreign mediums to hold seances to attempt to contact those sons or other soldiers. Meanwhile, "C", Donovan and Kate's boss in this scenario, suspects someone who will be attending to be a spy who has stolen weapons information. Donovan, a captain (?), and Kate from the weapons office, are to attend and see if they can figure out who the spy is. I found the story to be OK. I prefer mysteries the reader can solve because of clues laid out by the author.
  • (2/5)
    a miss for me
  • (5/5)
    As a teenager, I loved reading Gothic suspense novels. I couldn't get enough of the creepy old houses, atmospheric settings, and (often) searches for treasure. W.C. Ryan's A House of Ghosts fits into the Gothic suspense genre beautifully. Blackwater Abbey is hundreds of years old, the site of an ancient monastery, and it is absolutely filled with secret doors, rooms, and passageways. I wish the place were real so I could wander around it myself. The atmosphere was tense, and when the storm descended, it added to the frayed nerves of the people in the house: "It seemed as though the house and the wind were having a conversation" (and it wasn't a good one).The two main characters, Kate Cartwright and Captain Donovan, were strong, intelligent people who were quick thinkers in dangerous situations-- even when sparks flew between them. Kate, like many of the women in her family, could see ghosts. Just see them, not talk with them, and she also had the FitzAubrey glass, an ancient mirror that women in her family could use to glimpse the future.One of the elements of A House of Ghosts that really ratcheted up the suspense was the presence of ghosts. Around the pier on the island, the spirits of the drowned collected. In Blackwater Abbey, home of a man who made his fortune in munitions, dead soldiers kept gathering-- and the house already contained the spirits of many of its former residents. Yes, the ghosts were a strong force in the book, and they led me to believe that the ending was going to be explosive... but it wasn't. They were used and then discarded, almost as though the author didn't want his novel dismissed as a mere lightweight ghost story.However, even though I found the ending to be a slight letdown, I still really enjoyed A House of Ghosts. Ryan left a suggestion at the end that may mean there will be at least one more book featuring Cartwright and Donovan, and I hope there is.
  • (5/5)
    What a fabulous and engaging story A House of Ghosts is. I found myself thoroughly engrossed in it.It's set in 1917, the First World war is raging on and it's taking its toll on almost every family. The story begins with Kate Cartwright and a mysterious man named Donovan being sent by the Secret Intelligence Service to Blackwater Abbey on Blackwater Island just off the coast of Devon. It's no coincidence that Kate knows something of Blackwater Abbey and its occupants, Lord and Lady Highmount.This is rather a tangled web of a story, featuring (lots of) ghosts, séances and spiritualists. The Highmounts have lost two sons and Kate has lost a brother and the reason for the gathering is to try and contact them in the spiritual world. I found this side of the story absolutely fascinating, especially Kate's own abilities which she tries to keep hidden. I love island stories. There's something about the remote feel of them that really grabs me and that was definitely the case here. Couple that with stormy weather that cuts the guests off from the mainland and you have a sinister tale indeed. The Abbey is portrayed brilliantly as a place with so many hidden passages and recesses. It's the perfect place for ghostly and real life goings on.The story flits mostly between Kate and Donovan's viewpoints and I really liked both characters and how their stories intertwined as they worked together to solve more than one puzzle. I can't help hoping they might reappear in another book because there is so much potential there.I sometimes find ghost stories too implausible but I didn't find that here. I thought the ghostly element was done so well. However, despite being a story of ghosts this is not a scary book. It's more of a spy thriller/country house mystery with ghosts thrown in which is perhaps why I liked it so much. It's an incredibly well-plotted story and it really kept me guessing. It's alive with tension (a smidgen of which might be sexual!) and full of atmosphere. It's really such a great read and I loved the time I spent reading it.
  • (3/5)
    If nothing else, this book got me out of my reading funk, being neither a tedious book of letters or a re-read of a novel I have read too many times before. I was intrigued by the blurb, and the story half delivers - at the peak of the First World War, a ghostly gathering takes place at Blackwater Abbey, an ancient house on an island off the Devonshire coast. The owner Lord Highmount, who has made his money from armaments and gas masks, and his wife are holding a seance to contact their two lost sons, but their guests all seem to have ulterior motives and are strangely connected. Captain Donovan and Kate Cartwright, a sort of proto hush-WAAC working in Room 40, are sent undercover by military intelligence to find out who has been passing on top secret plans to the enemy, but Kate has a secret weapon of her own.All the pieces for an engaging mystery are present - sort of Agatha Christie meets The Sixth Sense - but unfortunately, the ghostly premise and the espionage adventure didn't really work well together. I absolutely loved that Kate could see the spirits of the dead everywhere, from drowned fishermen to past inhabitants of the Abbey, although the fortune-telling mirror she dragged with her was a bit of a dead end (pun intended), and the atmosphere of the Abbey itself, which is teeming with lost souls and has hidden tunnels thrown in to boot, was suitably creepy. A winter storm adds to the drama, cutting off the assembled guests from outside help. And I suppose the military mystery was interesting enough - one of the guests is out to kill Lord Highmount, but are they seeking revenge or reward? - but I wasn't really interested in spies and subterfuge, only the ghosts. The characters were enjoyable if slightly cliched (Downton Abbey, is that you?), and despite capable Kate falling in love with Donovan the dark horse (yawn). The women were also woefully underutilised - the Highmounts' daughter Evelyn is little more than a device, and her mother gets knocked out of the story together! But I liked Vickers the dependable butler and poor Count Orlov the medium, Kate's ally.Intriguing, but slightly too long, even for two genres mashed together.
  • (3/5)
    Atmospheric "locked room" type mystery set during the winter of 1917 in the midst of war. Lord Highmount has invited guests to his estate on an island to attempt to contact the spirits of his two sons, both of whom were killed at the front. Kate and Donovan are sent as undercover intelligence agents because it is suspected that Highmount's gathering is really intended to find out which of his guests leaked weapons information to Berlin. Donovan is a man of mystery with many skills but Kate is the real surprise - pretty and witty but also smart and brave and well-adapted to her ability to see the spirits of the dead. She has also inherited a family heirloom - a mirror that allows her to see (sometimes) glimpses of the future.A House of Ghosts is an entertaining audiobooks though the narrator's male voices are lacking in depth. The story never really succeeds in building much suspense or tension, however. Kate is an appealing character but people too readily accept her ability to see ghosts and it seems not to bother her much at all either. The mirror is an unnecessary and unbelievable contraption that I wish the author had left out. This book succeeds as a locked-room puzzler but never reaches any level of suspense. Kate and Donovan may be interesting enough for future intelligence missions and a developing romance if the author can place them in a more compelling mystery next time.
  • (3/5)
    I surprisingly found this to be a book that I think was probably better on audio. Surprising to me, because I have had much better luck listening to non fiction, than fiction. I wouldn't say this is a ghost story, though there are certainly ghosts, a medium and a seance as well as a few who have the ability to actually see these ghosts.Takes place in an old house, on the coast of Devon, where some have gathered to contact the sons they had lost in the war. Air masks, schemes, military and other secrets, an arms manufacturer and a wounded soldier keep the plot clipping along. When bodies start to drop, secret passages revealed, the suspects are plenty. I think I would call this a historical ghost story, if there is such a genre. There are certainly elements of both included.The narrator, Esther Wane, did in my opinion a terrific job. Her narration gets a 4+. Listening to this it reminded me of an old Agatha Christie novel, which was surprising. There were a few things I might have rolled my eyes at had I been reading, but listening to it made it seem more interesting and enjoyable.From the ending it seems there might be more writing featuring our two main character, Kate and Donovan. If so I will be listening.ARC from Edelweiss.
  • (2/5)
    It is the winter of 1917: war continues to rage in Europe and people are despairing about the darkness which has led to so much loss; it is little wonder that some seek answers, and comfort, in spiritualism. At reputedly haunted Blackwater Abbey, situated on an island off the coast of Devon, Lord Highmount has arranged a spiritualist gathering to coincide with the winter solstice. He has invited Madame Feda and Count Orlov, both mediums, because he and his wife are desperate to discover what has happened to their two sons, who are “missing, presumed dead”. As the invited guests arrive it becomes clear that each is hiding a secret and soon a ferocious storm will trap them all on the island, with all contact to the mainland cut off. Before long one of them will die, but who is the murderer and what is the motivation? One of the invited guests is Kate Cartwright, who has known the Highmount family all her life because her parents are close friends of Lord and Lady Highmount. Although most people assume she is a secretary, Kate in fact works as a codebreaker for Naval Intelligence. She first meets Captain Donovan, an officer seconded to a battalion in France but recently ordered to return to London, when they meet in the office of “C”, head of the Secret Intelligence Service. He wants them to join forces on a top-secret mission to Blackwater Abbey to uncover who is passing top-secret documents and plans from Lord Highmount’s munitions factory to the enemy. Although they are to pretend to still be engaged, Kate is to be accompanied by her ex-fiancé, Captain Miller-White, whilst Donovan’s cover is to act as Miller-White’s valet. Kate’s parents are also guests, keen to make contact with their own son, presumed killed in France. Although this book promises to be “an unrelentingly gripping mystery packed with twists and turns …. the perfect chilling read” I was neither gripped, nor chilled, by the story. I found the writing style rather too naïve, to the extent that I often found myself wondering whether the book was aimed at a young teenage readership. The twists and turns of the developing story were relatively predictable and the ghostly apparitions didn’t convince or engage me as a reader. In addition to being a story about the supernatural, this was also a story about espionage. However, I found that the latter theme was all too frequently diluted by the former and so I ended up feeling frustrated for much of the story because I didn’t feel engaged with the supernatural aspect and would have liked the espionage element to have been more convincingly developed. I thought that the characters were rather one-dimensional, almost stereotypical caricatures. Although the relationship between Kate and Donovan was, at times, engaging and amusing, and the ending certainly paved the way for further adventures for the duo, I felt that I hadn’t been able to get “under the skin” of either character! On a more positive note, I did feel that the author managed to create a convincingly atmospheric sense of being marooned on an island, totally cut off by a raging storm and fearing for your safety in such a hostile environment …. and I did love the dramatic cover of the book!I think that some of the themes in the story, ghosts, spiritualism, faulty equipment being issued to frontline soldiers, resulting in even more needless deaths (plus ça change!) could provide good discussion points for reading groups but, as a personal read, this was a disappointment. With thanks to Readers First and Zaffre for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.
  • (5/5)
    ghosts, paranormal, war-is-hell, WW2, murder, England, fraud, military-intelligence, romantic ***** It was a dark and stormy winter solstice in 1917 on the island off the Devon coast. Despite all the ghosts, it's all very business-like til the last quarter when a bit of romance wriggles in. Kate is rescued from an important but boring job in decoding by the head of a rather sketchy government department and told to rescind both her invitation regrets and her recently dropped fiance to join her parents and attend a house party/séance in hope of reassurance regarding those missing in action in France. Kate knows she can see ghosts and things but it's not spoken of. Despite the evil winter storm there are several people there for the séance as well as another undercover person. The mansion was once an abbey, and the hidden passages figure highly in this twisty plot full of red herrings. I loved it! I requested and received a free ebook copy from Skyhorse Publishing/Arcade via NetGalley. Thank you!
  • (5/5)
    A House of Ghosts by W.C. Ryan, William Ryan is a book I requested from NetGalley and the review is voluntary. This book features a haunted house and it does have plenty of ghosts but the main story is the many mysteries! The ghosts are just there and watch the show! Lol! There is an island just off the mainland and several people are invited. It's a big mansion and the year is 1917. Miss Cartwright is asked to come with her fiance but she has called off the wedding so is asked to go with Mr Donavan. They both work for C, a secret organization for the war dept.Everyone at the house has there own reasons for being there. There is also supposed to be a famous psychic doing a seance at some point.The author really sets the atmosphere for the year, (speach, styles, war related themes, etc), and mysterious mansion.I love that two of the ones that arrive at the mansion can really see ghosts but one pretends not to. Also lots of many fascinating and curious mysteries happen and they just keep piling on before anyone can solve one, another happens!I like the simple and charming romance that starts to bud between Donavan and Cartwright!Although I hoped for a good scary haunting book when I picked this book, I am glad it is just like it is! The evil was the living and the harmless ghosts enjoyed the show