“Heaven and earth are only three feet apart, but in thin places
that distance is even shorter.”- Celtic proverb
Ava Brent (present day) – is a 38 year old, experienced television journalist based in Glasgow. She has a partner, Fraser, whom she loves, and is expecting their first child. When sent to do a story on the dog suicides at Overtoun, she experiences an eerie feeling. She returns time and again, as if drawn to the house and its macabre history. Her obsession with the house and bridge become detrimental to her family relationships. Even after receiving threats, she cannot ignore the pull that Overtoun has over her.
Marion (1929-) – who at the age of twenty-four married a handsome man named Hamish West. He up-routed her from her home and family and moved her to his ancestral ‘pile’ in Scotland. To his family manor, Overtoun House, near Dumbarton. He then left her in the house with just a maid for company as he went to the city to work. Marion loses baby after baby, and her mind and physical health are declining…
“He has no idea that I do get pregnant. But the babies refuse to stay.
I am not a mother. I am a waste.”
Constance (1949-) – whom we meet as a young girl of only six years old. Constance can never remember a time when she wasn’t sick. Her mother told her she had polio as a baby. She is kept in a locked room in Overtoun House – her mother says that is to protect her from the germs. She sees the doctor often, and when she does her mother prompts her as to what to say to him. Constance longs to go outside like other children. She is intensely lonely and wants to be able to play. Her long days are spent either in her bed, sitting in her wheelchair, or gazing longingly out of her tiny ivy covered window.
I couldn’t have picked a more perfect October read. Filled to the brim with atmosphere and gothic overtones, this novel was creepy without being unbelievable.
Though it is a novel, filled with fictitious people, it is set in a very real setting. Overtoun House and bridge near Dumbarton, Scotland. A place that genuinely has a macabre reputation and spooky history – albeit a different one from what this book has to offer.
The character of Constance was pitiable. You feel so sorry for her loneliness and ill health. Marion’s character was also one to feel sorry for . Her situation was utterly wretched. Ava’s present day character was a character that I had mixed feelings about. I wanted to yell at her to stop ignoring Fraser and leave the past – and Overtoun House – alone. But silly me, she couldn’t do that as then there would be no story.
In addition to the unsettling location, this novel spoke to the complicated nature of family, and the very real condition of Munchausen by proxy.
As Overtoun gradually revealed its secrets to Ava, the story came together in a way that made sense and tied up all the disparate threads of the plot.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and recommend it highly to those who enjoy an atmospheric story jam-packed with family secrets.
This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Thomas & Mercer (Amazon Publishing UK) via NetGalley.
Publication date: April 15, 2021
ISBN: 9781542023016 -ASIN: B08BZK9M71 – 320 pages
C.D.Major is the pen name of Cesca Major – a writer and presenter.
As an ex-history teacher, Cesca has always been fascinated by true stories from the recent past. She has written three novels; her debut The Silent Hours was described as a ‘moving debut’ by Women & Home magazine and The Times called Major ‘a talent to watch’. Her third novel, The Other Girl, is a historical thriller set in an asylum in 1940s New Zealand and is inspired by a terrible true story. Cesca has vlogged about the writing process for http://www.novelicious.com and the Writers & Artists’ website. She has also presented shows for ITV West and Sky. She writes other books under her pseudonym Rosie Blake. She runs writing retreats twice a year in the West Country and teaches creative writing workshops for the Henley School of Art.
Cesca lives in Berkshire with her husband, son and twin girls.
Follow C.D. Major on Twitter @CescaMajor