An old, eighteenth century inn sits on a wind-swept moor, deserted and in disrepair. Brian Davis and Kelli Davis explore its dark, creepy interior. They flip old properties for a living, but their partnership, along with their marriage, is fast dissolving. After losing their young son to a freak accident, they were never able to fully recover. But Kelli is determined to save their relationship, and hopes renovating the inn will bring them back together.
Yet the more they explore the inn, the more they uncover its mysterious history. There are rumors the place is even haunted. But things get really interesting when they find a hidden bedroom that had been walled off. Several old tomes in the room cause Kelli to suspect a famous but reclusive author once lived there. Upon further investigation, they discover a previously unknown novel, what Kelli believes to be a lost work. Titled “The Highwayman,” Kelli becomes obsessed with the book the moment she cracks it open.
The story within its pages is fascinating. Set just a few years before the Revolutionary War, the novel revolves around a highwayman named Elias, who robs wealthy colonists loyal to the crown. He gives away what he steals to fund Boston’s budding colonial militia. As a spy, a robber, and a patriot, Elias is hunted by the authorities, particularly a ruthless redcoat captain named Artemus D`abo. Unfortunately, Elias and D`abo are in love with the same woman, a beautiful serving girl named Bess, who happens to live in the very inn Brian and Kelli end up renovating.
Both stories intertwine, taking place in the same location, but over two centuries apart. One is a ghostly mystery about Brian and Kelli trying to uncover the inn’s foreboding past, the other a historical thriller as Elias and Bess try to evade capture. What neither couple realizes is that their fates are destined to collide.
Elias, as part of a secret society, takes on increasingly difficult missions that require his specific talents. Bess thinks he has already done his duty and begs him to leave with her. Elias promises Bess he will take on one last mission, and then they will be together forever. Yet a faceoff with Captain D`abo seems unavoidable, and so is the inevitable reckoning that will change all three of their lives forever.
Meanwhile, Kelli begins to suspect the book they found might not be a work of fiction at all, but a faithful recording of what happened at the inn. And the further she reads, the more she understands the tragic events that took place there. As spiritual forces within the dark shadows beneath the inn try desperately to reach out, it’s clear there is much more to the inn’s past than meets the eye. How Brian and Kelli handle what they discover next will either save their marriage or tear it apart forever.
In a story brimming with suspense, tragedy, and intense passion, in the end both couples must come to understand that to sacrifice for another is the greatest love of all.
Plot: The plotting here is strong, interweaving two plot lines separated by a few hundred years and centered around a spooky old building and a mysterious book. The story is well-paced and culminates in a satisfying ending.
Prose/Style: The book’s prose is clear and reads well. The dialogue effectively conveys characterizations and fits the time periods aptly.
Originality: The story appears original and unique. The book uses Gothic motifs and careful plotting to efficiently tell an atmospheric and haunting story.
Character Development/Execution: The character relationships, in both time periods, propel the mood and plots of the book. The characters in parallel narratives are appropriately disambiguated. The family stories serving as the book’s backbone are full of heart.
Date Submitted: April 01, 2021