Thursday, 10 October 2013

Review: The Room Beyond by Stephanie Elmas

When Serena begins a new life working for the Hartreve family at 36 Marguerite Avenue she falls in love, not just with its eccentric and alluring inhabitants and their world, but with the house itself. Number 36 is a beautiful Victorian London mansion that has remained in the family for generations. Serena feels that by being here she has escaped the ghosts of her own sad childhood and found a true home, but she soon discovers that behind its gleaming surfaces Marguerite Avenue is plagued by secrets and mystery. Why does such a beautiful tranquil street seem sometimes to shimmer with menace? Is everyone in the family quite who they appear to be? And just what is it that the family is trying to hide from her?

It is 1892. On a hot summer night scented with jasmine, Miranda Whitestone hosts a dinner party at 34 Marguerite Avenue. Watching helplessly as her husband is seduced by her glamorous neighbour Lucinda Eden, she can have no idea of the consequences the evening will have.

For the history of Marguerite Avenue is more chilling than Serena could have imagined, and the fates of two women - the beautiful renegade Lucinda and the 'good wife' Miranda - will reach out from the past to cast a shadow over Serena's own future.

The Room Beyond is a thriller that delves beneath the romance and grandeur of a London house and finds a family haunted by the legacy of past wrongdoings. As the suspense grows and the fog thickens, will Serena be able to give up all that she has come to love? Will she ever escape?

Kindle Edition, 300 pages
Published September 29th 2013 by Banstead House Publishing   

Terri's Review  

I requested this book via Netgalley as the synopsis captured my attention.  A mix of historical fiction with some paranormal mixed in.  My perfect scenario!  Normally before reading a book by an author that I am not familiar with I will look up the details on Goodreads to see the ratings and do some research.  I did not in this case so I went in to the story with no preconceived notions or expectations.

I was caught up in this book from the very beginning.  From the moment Serena first saw the house and met the Hartreve family I knew there was something more to their story and the story of the "missing" house.  I fell in love with Beth from the beginning while remaining suspicious of everyone else (Seb most of all).

This story went back and forth between the present day storyline and the story of Lucinda and Miranda in 1892.  As with all stories designed this way I preferred the story set in the past.  I must caution however that this does not follow the usual formula.  Typical novels will normally have some epic love story with a tragic twist that leaves something unfinished for the present day storyline.  In The Room Beyond, the story in 1892 is dark and tragic from the get go.  There was no epic love story where the reader is left praying that it will wrap up neatly by the end of the book.  All of the characters were flawed and disturbed in their own way.  The reader could tell that there would be no way for their story to conclude with a happy ending.

By the halfway point of the story I was able to figure out how the present day characters tied in with those of the past.  This did not ruin the story for me however left me wondering how it would all get tied in and wrapped up by the ending.  In my opinion the story wrapped up nicely and in the only way that would make sense and stay true to the plot.  I have to admit that I did not quite believe the chemistry between Serena and Seb however this was only a portion of the story.

Overall this was a ghost story.  Literally.  An easy nice read.  A genuine light "dark" read.  I look forward to reading the future works of Stephanie Elmas

About the Author
Stephanie Elmas was born in Hong Kong to an English father and Czech mother but spent most of her childhood in Bristol. She studied English at university in London. She has worked as a head hunter, taught English in Japan and returned to university to complete a Masters in Victorian fiction. It was here that she developed her interest in the dark dangerous world of Victorian sensation writing. Stephanie now lives in a chaotic house in Surrey with her husband and three highly energetic but wonderful children.

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