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4.3 out of 5
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  • Winter Solstice

    First off I have to mention the binding of the hardback version of this book - it is quite simply exquisite. No slipcover, just a relief cover on black with golden imagery and stark white text. The book feels luscious in your hands as you read (I found myself stroking it rather reverently) and really stands out on your bookshelf. However, I am here to review the contents of the pages themselves and not their presentation. The story itself is a rather peculiar mix of the supernatural and a World War I tale of military espionage. Strange bedfellows when you stop to think about it but somehow the author contrives to meld the disparate tales in to a whole. Sadly, for this reader, it was not a particularly interesting whole. I can't help feeling that it suffered from the juxtaposition of the two themes and settling on one would have made it a more cohesive read. This is a shame as the opening chapters have real promise and drew me in to author's world quite successfully; it just couldn't hold me there. The plotting is quite straightforward and follows a mostly linear path so you never feel like you know more or less than the characters. That is another problem, I never felt like I got under the skin of the main protagonists Kate Cartwright and Hector Donovan. Donovan is clearly a complex man - an Irishman who fought for the English at a time when the animosity between the two nations was perhaps at its highest and before Eire received it's independence. He is also a bit of a "fixer" for the military - to be honest he reminded me of John Cusack's character in Grosse Pointe Blank. Other than that we know little about him, except for his experiences in the trenches. Kate Cartwright is a clearly intelligent upper middle class (if not even minor aristocracy) woman who worked in code rooms for the military. Apart from her propensity for breaking engagements off and mourning her "missing presumed dead" brother we never really get to know much about her - apart from the fact she knows how to handle a firearm and does not cave under pressure; oh and she sees ghosts. That last bit is important as the Abbey is full of them stretching back centuries. Lord Highmount is hosting a rather dubious Country House Weekend at the Abbey and Donovan and Cartwright are "advised" to attend by the mysterious C, a man who can only be thought of as their Handler. Munitions plans from Lord Highmount's factory have found their way to Berlin and it is up to the intrepid twosome to discover which of the house guests is responsible. However, Lord and Lady Highmount just want to make contact with their sons who both died in service to their country. You can see how it all becomes rather muddled and one storyline trips over the other. To be honest I think I would have preferred a straight espionage tale and could have happily left the ghostly side of things to one side. I RECEIVED A FREE COPY OF THIS BOOK FROM READERS FIRST IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW.

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  • A good read as the nights draw in

    I really enjoyed this book but I wouldn’t say it was “chilling”, more like a murder mystery. I felt the end was a little rushed and made confusing with the introduction of an extra element that I felt was only there to try and throw you off the scent rather than adding anything to the story. The characters are brilliantly brought to life though and the real ghosts are more comical than anything, I laughed out loud many times with these! Despite my small criticisms I’d very much like to see a series of books with the main characters.

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