I do so love a good gothic novel. All the elements are here, at this author’s hands, building into a hauntingly mesmerizing read that hits all the right notes, keeping this reader thoroughly hooked, – right up to an ending not unpredictable but so perfectly fitting it appears to almost write itself.
The story is told in the alternating first person POV voices of two women : Anna Barnes, a fortyish woman living after the Great War in 1918; and Carmen Acosta, an eighteen year old coming to adulthood in the WW2-infused days of 1941.
What both women have in common is a house, – a mansion really – situated on a remote and swampy chunk of Miami Florida, where alligators roam freely and huge tracts of pre-land-rush property could be purchased for a song and a dream.
When Anna’s husband Robert, twenty years her senior, follows his midlife “folly” through to the construction of a Floridian pale-coral extravaganza, a European monstrosity (in Anna’s view), she has no choice but to vacate their home in New York and follow him. As the ostentatious Marbrisa is christened and completed, Anna’s life is irreversibly altered – trapped as she is amidst the stifling heat, screeching peacocks, and creeping sense of oppression now surrounding the house and its sweeping view of Biscayne Bay.
More than twenty years later, Carmen, an orphaned teen, will find herself in a remarkably similar situation – occupying the disconcerting Marbrisa (now owned by her sister and brother in law) – with a growing sense of its ominous opulence.
Fascinating and so atmospheric you can taste it – this slow-build read gets under your skin, weaving together two stories and two women, and an unsettling manse that may outlive them all.
A great big thank you to Netgalley, the author and the publisher for an ARC of this book, all thoughts presented are my own.