In Wakefield Manor, a decaying ancestral mansion brooding on the edge of the Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia, there is a locked room.
And this is the sort of opening sentence that immediately sucks me into a book. A decaying mansion, a swamp and a locked room? Please tell me more!
Sam and her sister, Elizabeth, grew up in Wakefield Manor with their neglectful mother. Since it was built, the mansion has witnessed both the mundane and the horrors experienced by those who have lived there, and it has not forgotten them.
Now adults, the sisters have returned to Wakefield Manor, where the locked room from their childhood remains a mystery and a new ghost has appeared.
I love haunted house stories so couldn’t wait to get into this one. I loved the house. I loved the swamp. I loved the way the ghosts made their way into the story and I wanted to spend more time with them.
The past is everywhere, here, wrapped up in the present.
There were a couple of times when I managed to forget what was happening in the story’s present while exploring the past. I never really connected with any of the characters so, although I was interested in learning what happened to each of them, the emotional investment was missing. There were also a number of potentially superfluous paragraphs that took me out of the story.
I tend to gravitate to horror that is more visceral so after the set up of the first couple of chapters I found myself getting antsy. The action picks up towards the end of the book but I spent a good amount of time around the middle simply waiting for it to begin. There was an overall atmospheric feel to the book.
It is a door that should not be opened.
Content warnings include mention of abortion, alcoholism, assault, death by suicide (including method used), domestic violence, neglect and slavery. Readers with emetophobia may have trouble with a couple of scenes.
Thank you so much to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for the opportunity to read this book.
Once Upon a Blurb
They say there’s a door in Wakefield that never opens …
Sam Wakefield’s ancestral home, a decaying mansion built on the edge of a swamp, isn’t a place for children. Its labyrinthine halls, built by her mad ancestors, are filled with echoes of the past: ghosts and memories knotted together as one. In the presence of phantoms, it’s all Sam can do to disentangle past from present in her daily life. But when her pregnant sister Elizabeth moves in after a fight with her husband, something in the house shifts.
Already navigating her tumultuous relationship with Elizabeth, Sam is even more unsettled by the appearance of a new ghost: a faceless boy who commits disturbing acts – threatening animals, terrorising other children, and following Sam into the depths of the house wielding a knife. When it becomes clear the boy is connected to a locked, forgotten room, one which is never entered, Sam realises this ghost is not like the others. This boy brings doom …
As Elizabeth’s due date approaches, Sam must unravel the mysteries of Wakefield before her sister brings new life into a house marked by death. But as the faceless boy grows stronger, Sam will learn that some doors should stay closed – and some secrets are safer locked away forever.