A Darker Shade
Laura K. Curtis, author
Molly Allworth takes a job in a remote house in Maine, caring for a little girl who swore she saw her mother’s ghost…before she stopped speaking entirely. The child’s father thinks any belief in the supernatural is absurdly credulous. Molly’s history and heritage, however, have given her a wider view. There’s a significant bonus for Molly if she lasts the year. But as winter closes in and mysterious, often creepy events begin to occur, even her growing affection for father and daughter may not be enough to make her stay.
Curtis (the Harp Security series) turns her talents to gothic suspense in this eerie, emotional story about lost souls and traumatic memories. Molly Allworth accepts a fantastically high salary to work as a live-in tutor for a silent, troubled young girl in Rook’s Rest, Maine. Twelve-year-old Liza Prescott is convinced she can communicate with the ghost of her mother, who recently died by suicide, but has stopped speaking entirely because her brooding widower father, Nathaniel, refuses to accept her claims. As Molly, an orphan herself, helps Liza to open up, she grows closer to the family and begins to uncover the dark secrets of Rook’s Rest, confronting the restless spirits who lurk there. Curtis effectively transposes the atmosphere of gothic classics like Jane Eyre and Rebecca to contemporary Maine, and crafts subtle, believable family dynamics. Unfortunately, the ghost story spirals out to involve the Native American peoples who died on the Prescotts’ land, a tragedy this fast-paced novel is not equipped to address with the requisite care, instead falling into hackneyed tropes. This cultural insensitivity mars a well-plotted novel that would otherwise appeal to fans of Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt. (Self-published)