"I have left a puzzle for you to solve, Eleanor Harper. You, the would-be sleuth. You, of the curious mind. I know you will latch on to it, just as you latched on to the murders of my father and sister all those years ago. I trust you'll be more successful this time. You see, that's why I chose you and brought you to Cliffside. Only you can work out all of the mysteries that are swirling through these halls....my nightmare is over. Yours, however is just beginning."
Brief summary of the plot:
Situated on the shore of Lake Superior, Cliffside Manor was built in 1925 as a TB sanatorium. Decades later, Chester Dare turned it into an exclusive retreat for writers and artists. Penelope Dare, his daughter, has just hired Eleanor Harper to be Cliffside's new director. Eleanor, who spent 20 years as a crime journalist, is looking forward to her new job in this peaceful haven. But all is not as it seems at Cliffside. First, there's an unexpected death. And Eleanor keeps waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of children laughing, only there aren't any children there. Then the five guests--a photographer, a landscape artist, a poet and two writers--all seem to have a connection to Cliffside's past. Why did Penelope bring them all here? And what's the mystery that Eleanor is supposed to solve? And does it have anything to do with the ghostly children haunting the manor?
This is a very entertaining read. It combines the enigmatic mystery surrounding the Dare family with the history of Cliffside Manor as a sanatorium and a haunting supernatural twist. There's an eerie atmosphere at Cliffside throughout the book that I liked, but the most suspenseful ghostly activity doesn't happen until the last third of the novel. It's the same with Eleanor's attempts to solve the mystery of Cliffside. I felt like she didn't make any real progress until the other guests arrived. Although, to be fair, she doesn't have a lot of clues to go on at first, and none of the servants are exactly forthcoming with their secrets. And the ghostly secrets of Cliffside are as plentiful as they are unexpected. I guessed a few of them, but most I did NOT see coming. Which made for a compelling, if fantastic, ending. I would have liked a few more clues along the way to how this one was going to end because I felt like it came out of nowhere. But it was suspenseful. One other thing bugged me at the end, but to talk about it is to spoil one of the big reveals, so I'll just say this wasn't a perfect read, but I still liked it. What made it even better was reading it with Melody! Be sure to check out her review to see what she liked...and didn't like about this one.
Melody's questions to me...and my answers:
1. What do you think of Eleanor and what do you like and/or dislike about her?
For the most part, I liked Eleanor, although I felt she was a little slow to accept the idea that Cliffside might me haunted. And for being a crime journalist, I felt like she kept stopping her investigation into Cliffside's mystery too soon...although I guess the reason for that gets explained at the end. One thing I didn't like is how she was instantly attracted to two of the men she meets at Cliffside, that bugged me. But I liked how she didn't panic or faint at the scary parts. And I liked her interactions with the servants and other guests. Overall, she made a good narrator.
2. In your opinion, what are the attractions of this story?
The Gothic atmosphere surrounding Cliffside; it's such a cool old manor! And the fact that you know something eerie and creepy is going on there right from the beginning, even though you have no idea what exactly it is. And I always like stories with ghosts, and that have a supernatural twist to the mystery, so that was good, too.
Thanks for another fun buddy read, Melody!