From Goodreads: When Great War veteran Laurence Bartram arrives in Easton Deadall, he is struck by the beauty of the place: a crumbling manor, a venerable church, and a memorial to the village’s soldiers, almost all of whom died in one bloody battle.
Now peace prevails, and the rest of England is newly alight with hope, but Easton Deadall remains haunted by tragedy—as does the Easton family. In 1911, five-year-old Kitty disappeared from her bed and has not been seen in thirteen years; only her fragile mother still believes she is alive. While Laurence is a guest of the manor, a young maid vanishes in a sinister echo of Kitty’s disappearance. And when a body is discovered in the manor’s ancient church, Laurence is drawn into the grounds’ forgotten places, where deadly secrets lie in wait.
While I enjoyed this novel, it wasn’t really what I expected. I was thinking it would be a fast paced sleuthing novel dealing mainly with the disappearance of Kitty Easton, but I personally found the entire first half of the book a little bland for me as it dealt with the historical aspect of the time period more than I like in my novels (detailing the house, the people, the church, etc.) and I found that I occasionally lost interest due to all the descriptions. This is a very lengthy novel, and I personally would have liked to have some of it cut out, mainly because I’m not really a description kind of reader, but for those who are, I think they’ll find this novel quite interesting.
Once the novel began to deal more with Kitty and the disappearance of others, say around 45% into the book, it did really pick up, and I became highly interested in the goings on of the characters. Had the novel been like this from the beginning, I think I would have really enjoyed it, but even so, the last half of the novel was great.
I really liked how everything fit together, including the disappearance of Kitty, then a young maid servant, and then the mystery surrounding the dead woman found in the church. Speller did a good job intertwining them, and I was surprised to find out the truth behind both disappearances and the murder. I just wish the entire novel had to have been written like the second half of the novel. Three stars.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on June 26, 2012.