Release date: 2010
The Blurb: “They say my father was mad, so corrupted by evil and tainted by sin that he did what he did. I came home to find them all dead; their throats savagely cut. My sisters only five and eight were gone as well as my brother who was twelve. My mother too lay butchered in her marriage bed. The bed her children were born in.
I discovered him first, in the sitting room, floating on a sea of crimson, the bloody razor still clutched in his hand.
How pitiful I must have looked, bent down trying to wake him. Calling to him over and over: “Papa please, please wake up!”
He could not waken of course. No more was he to open his eyes, not in this world, had I not been struck mad I would have realized.
Yet madness is sometimes a mercy when shadows come to take the horror away. Please do not pull away in terror, please. I have much to confess. Just be patient, for I promise I will tell you everything. The only thing I ask in return is for you not to judge me until you hear my entire story…”
So begins a tale of vampirism, madness, obsession and devil worship as Rose Baines, only survivor of her family’s carnage, tells her story.
Fragile and badly damaged by the tragedy, she obtains a position as governess at a desolate house on the haunted moors where demons dwell.
The house and the moors have hideous secrets and yet there is love too; deep, abiding and eternal…but it comes with a price, the loss of her soul.
The review: The House on Blackstone Moor is very much a book of two halves. For the first half of the book Carole Gill writes a gothic story that actually feels very much like a period piece… ish…
I say ish as the book has an undercurrent that is much more brutal than anything that might have been born out of the time. Issues touched upon, visceral murder suicide, abuse, rape and insanity are dealt with in a modern way but with a gothic veneer that screams 19th century.
In short the first half of the book is a gothic joy as Rose is tortured but that torture always carries a glimmer of hope. Gill makes Rose a strong voice, even though she is a vulnerable character and as she faces the murder of her family by her father, her placement in an institution, the hints of the abuse she suffered and her gaining the governess position at Blackstone – with children too old for their age – a gothic mystery is weaved and then dyed as red as the blood spilt from a bird as she catches the children drinking from its headless body.
As she, and thus we, discovers the truth… the family are vampires (bar the father who is the vampiric son of a fallen angel and the source of the vampirism) and they are working at bringing her into the fold... the story shifts and it becomes the book of two parts that I mentioned. Gone is the nineteenth century veneer (gone also is the glimmer of hope I mentioned) and the story morphs into something akin to Clive Barker in a period costume. There is devil worship, hate filled spirits, betrayal and a host of dark (pitch black) secrets to emerge, we even get a battle of fallen angels. The reason for mentioning Barker, is not only because of the visceral nature of the horror but because, like Barker, it seems that Gill cannot have her heroine suffer enough. Just as you think she cannot suffer another indignity then another is found and Rose suffers and suffers.
I for one found this gloriously gothic, refreshingly brutal, honestly horrific and a great read. I look forward to the sequel. 7.5 out of 10.