In 1927, Eve Boland travels to Virginia to visit her cousin Luke and falls under the spell of his wife: beautiful, brash, gin-drinking Corrine. At first enamored of her, Eve starts to suspect there are dark secrets hidden in her marriage to Luke. As Eve becomes enmeshed in Luke and Corrine’s life at Hollister House, she inadvertently sets off a chain of events that lead to a death and a terrible secret she must keep for the rest of her life.
In 2018, Rachel Shepherd finds her father dead in the haunted mansion of local ghost story lore that he and his young wife had been renovating into a bed and breakfast. Something evil has been lurking in Hollister House since 1927, and Rachel thinks she knows how to get rid of it. She reconnects with Isaiah, her first love from a decade ago, and together they discover a mysterious mosaic mural, an album of disturbing photos, and Eve Boland’s diary. As the secrets of the summer of 1927 are revealed, Rachel learns that the worst horror of all may be living with the ghosts of the past.
Burrows’ choice to give the historical side as much attention as the modern aftermath pays off in a richly integrated story that forces the reader to simultaneously—and uncomfortably—engage in both romance and horror aesthetics. Opening with Eve as a feisty old lady uncowed by the murderous presence in her home, only later to disclose her relationship to Corrine’s ghost, Burrows ties Corrine’s presence to Isaiah and Rachel’s first breakup, and the timeline pulls together emotionally as Eve’s diary in 1927 starts to reveal the facts. Deep characterization makes Eve, Corrine, and Rachel all feel like protagonists in a women’s story that leaves the men in their lives more tangential.
Pacing is thoughtful and solid, so that Rachel’s discoveries, Eve’s disclosures, and Corrine’s increased paranormal activity keep pace with one another. The revelations regularly surprise, while never feeling like they come out of nowhere, and Burrows uses the shared physical space of the two stories effectively. Charging Rachel and Lily’s already strong antagonism with the power of Corrine’s takeover of Lily’s body gives a delightfully terrifying sense of the past literally grabbing into the present.
Takeaway: Readers who love relationship drama—whether historical, romantic, or spooky—will find this ghost story grabs hard and refuses to let go.
Great for fans of: Anne Rivers Siddons’s The House Next Door , Tananarive Due’s The Good House.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A
Dual-timeline ghost story set in modern times and the 1920s. The author does a great job of evoking the feeling of that era, from the clothing and décor to the attitudes and zeitgeist of the time. I really enjoyed that aspect of it, and found the book reminiscent of Kate Morton’s work.
In a nutshell (spoiler-free), something very bad is happening in an old mansion in a small Virginia town, and can only be stopped by exposing the truth about a tragic event that occurred in 1927. At first I thought the truth would end up being a simple plot-driven twist, but it turned out that the 1920s story is set in the South for a reason; beyond that would get into “spoiler” territory. This book, in my opinion, takes a very nuanced look at, in the author’s words, “the ghosts of our past”. I suppose it could be read simply as a cool horror story with an interesting historical backdrop, but as a reader, I like when a novel makes me think.
Nicely paced tale with good plot twists throughout, but especially toward the end, where things wrap up with a surprising (and unforeseeable) conclusion. Skillful weaving of the fictional story with real history. 5 stars
I received a free copy of this book and I am leaving an honest review. This book has everything you could look for in a book. It has love, betrayal, secrets, murder, ghosts, true history combines with the fiction world to make an amazing story. I love the way it combines the different points of view Corrine, Rachel, Eve to create such a compelling story. The author weaves a dark and thrilling story for the reader to get lost in. Twists abound until the very end and all you can think is I want more. Please give this book a chance!
The book provides action in 1927 and also in action in 2018. The writing style makes a pleasure to read, and it provides both and historical accounts. The story is detailed explanation of the race problems in both times. The characters are very understanding, and the motivations are easy to lead the actions. I liked the book so well that I recommended to my wife's book club. We can learn and act on for the historical elements and the present times. The are ghost action with a complete team of paranormal studies. Many characters die, but both present and past are satisfying to the reader.
Amazing book. Written in the now from the main character the ghost POV as well as another POV In years passed.
This story had my focus the entire time. I thoroughly recommend it for a beefy, gripping, mysterious read with ghostly hauntings, romance and deceit. It’s all going on.
When Rachel decides to investigate her father's suicide in the haunted mansion called Hollister House, she encounters a spirit who seems determined to interfere. As Rachel works to unravel the secrets of the ghost's identity, we witness the events in 1927 that led to the haunting. The two timelines are deftly interwoven, and the world of 1927 is richly detailed. As forbidden passions are revealed, so are the secrets of the ancient mansion and the vengeful spirit that haunts it. Richly atmospheric, with surprises at every turn, Bittersharp ends in a dramatic finish that is sure to satisfy.