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    A fantastic gothic inspired romance

    I received my copy of The Shadows of Stormclyffe Hall, by Lauren Smith, in exchange for an honest review, through the Lovers of Paranormal group on Goodreads. 4 ½ stars Jane Seyton’s interest in Stormclyffe Hall goes beyond that of a doctoral candidate doing research for a thesis. Stormclyffe Hall and its purported family curse/hauntings occupy not only her waking hours, but her sleeping hours as well. When her dreams about the lady in white become full blown nightmares, Jane’s boyfriend calls it quits, questioning her sanity. Determined to learn all she can about the Stormclyffe family, Jane petitions the current owner of the castle for permission to go through the family documents. Bastien Carlisle, the Earl of Waymouth and current owner of Stormclyffe informs her that she is welcome to visit the castle as a tourist once the renovations are complete, but all private family documents are off limits. Regardless of the prim brush-off, Jane decides to travel from the U.S. to England and simply show up at the castle. The result is a fantastic gothic-inspired story of restless spirits, a dark family curse, a creepier than all get out evil that just won’t die, and proof that love conquers all. While Jane and Bastien seem to fight their attraction to each other in typical romance novel fashion, all angst and desire, right, wrong and personal reasons why they just shouldn’t fall for one another for the other person’s own good, the spirit world clamours to have their say. The spirits of Isabelle and Richard Carlisle, trapped for eternity on Stormclyffe property, yet forever separated from one another, are able to reconnect through Jane and Bastien, their blood descendants. While positive forces within the castle are determined to unite the couple, a gruesome evil is determined to destroy Jane, just as it has destroyed everyone loved by a Carlisle man for generations. I admired the author’s writing style. The book was relaxing to read, while still keeping me on edge. The descriptions of the castle property, both the landscape and the physical architecture were well described without feeling forced. Depictions of the hauntings, possessions and poltergeist-like activity were creepy and quite original, but still allowed me to get a good nights sleep. Readers reconnect with the past through the prologue, Richard’s journal, Jane’s dreams about Isabelle and several of the possession-type incidents. There were a few times when I thought the journal writing was too precise, as though it should have been a memory instead of someone’s private diary being used to convey the information to the reader. As I was reading there were a few details that bothered me, as though they were a contradiction or an editing error. For example, if Bastien’s grandparents suddenly abandoned the castle and it was allowed to fall into such terrible disrepair, how was it that Jane found a detailed account of the following generations of Carlisles. At one point I thought this was an error, but later concluded that someone, possibly Randolph, Bastien’s loyal manservant, must have continued to visit the castle periodically to check on things. Perhaps he maintained the family history out of loyalty and love. There were a few points that I wanted more information on. Why did Isabelle’s brother travel to America? Why did he alter his name? Who buried the body? Who raised baby Edward? How did the maid hang herself when it seemed physically impossibly? Did Cordelia’s father play any role? Did he not look for his daughter? How did Randolph know that Jane was coming back to Stormclyffe for the night, and which room to prepare for her? What was the significance of the dragons and why wasn’t that expanded? What was in the basement – its creepiness was mentioned twice. It is because of these little irritating points that I can not rate the book a 5 star. Otherwise, it is a great read, very entertaining, nice historical backdrop, colourful, descriptive and quite original. I look forward other books by Lauren Smith!
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