Monday, December 1, 2014
Deadlight Hall by Sarah Rayne
3.0 out of 5 stars -- Mystery surrounding a haunted house in England, the site of a series of unusual events and an old crime.
A paranormal story of Jewish children confined to a very unpleasant old house after being smuggled through the underground to England during World War II. Although they had initially been placed with families, Deadlight Hall became an isolation hospital when an epidemic of meningitis spread through the community just after Christmas one year. The story centers on the disappearance of two twin girls, Sophie and Susanna Reiss, who were thought to be sought by the Angel of Death himself, Dr. Joseph Mengele.
Many years later, Leo Rosendale, one of the children who escaped Germany with the twin girls, brings the story to his Oxford colleague, Michael Flint, when he hears that Deadlight Hall is to be converted to new living spaces. Leo feels the place is haunted by old ghosts who know what happened there, and he wants to know what, if anything, can be found about his twin friends. He has a little golem engraved with their initials and says that the girls had a matching one with his -- they had traded in a pact of reassurance of their friendship and the golem is a sort of relic that is understood to provide safety. Did the girls get taken by agents of Dr. Mengele or were they killed in the house? In a series of letters and other things that Leo and Michael find, tantalizing bits of detail emerge that deepen their concerns about the house and its previous inhabitants.
The narrative shifts back and forth in time and slowly builds suspense as the reader becomes involved in the mystery of what actually happened in that house. The conclusion is satisfying and somber -- a reminder of a time when there were good people in the midst of the horror that was World War II. I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys paranormal and stories about that time.
Thank you to NetGalley and Severn House for the e-book ARC to review.