Watch the Wall, My Darling
by Joan Aiken Hodge
Edition: ebook, ARC
Synopsis: Only a deathbed promise to her dying father could force Christina Tretton to travel to Tretteign Grange, the ‘Dark House’, and meet her estranged family for the first time. Having to fast-talk her way out of an encounter with smugglers on the way is only the beginning. Waiting for her is flighty aunt Verity, her two very different cousins ? the stoic Ross and fawning Richard ? and her formidable grandfather, who changes his Will every few days.
Taking the neglectful servants in hand, Christina is soon managing the house, proving herself invaluable in her grandfather’s eyes. This backfires when he decides he wants her as his heir, and only on the condition that she marries Ross or Richard. Outraged, she swears she will marry neither, but her cousins have different ideas. Should she marry the cousin she is drawn to, even if he appears to have no true feelings for her?
Hanging over them is the constant threat of invasion, as Dark House looks over the sea to France, and Napoleon. When cousin Ross disappears, it is up to Christina to stand in his stead and take on the running of the estate – amongst some of his more disreputable duties. For as soldiers work to fortify the coast, Christina finds herself in the twisted intrigues of smugglers and spies.
American Christina Tretton arrives at her father’s family home, intent on keeping the promise she made to her now dead parent. She is thrust into the middle of the secrets of “The Dark House”. Can she navigate the danger without forfeiting her life in the process?
Christina was an interesting enough character. It almost seemed as though being American -practical, forthright, opinionated- was her entire character. She made no effort to understand the traditions of her family. It was all ‘I am American and I am going to do things my way.” Her acceptance of everything that came her way was a little unbelievable.
Those who filled “The Dark house” were appropriate for a Gothic style tale. Annoying, suspicious, and integral to the plot in turns, no one really stood out at all. Not even the hero of the tale.
The plot was a bit confusing from the start and it took some effort to continue reading.
Overall, I’m not sorry to have read a Gothic Regency, but I’m not so sure I will be in a hurry to reread it or anything like it again. For those who enjoy a story with a dark atmosphere and too many twists and turns to keep track of, this may be a book for you.
I received an copy through NetGalley for reviewing purposes.