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Monday 1 November 2021

‘House of the Lost’ by Sarah Rayne

Published by Simon & Schuster,
March 2010.
ISBN: 978-1-84737-335-5 (TPB)

When Theo Kendal inherits Fenn House, following the death of his beloved cousin Charmery, he believes it will be the perfect place to write his new book and maybe to discover the truth about Charmery’s murder.

Fenn House is set in a remote part of Norfolk and appears to be as dingy on the inside as the outside - musty and dusty. After unpacking some provisions Theo settles down to write but finds himself writing a different book from the planned one, he is writing the story of a child called Matthew, who lives in constant fear.

As the story progresses Theo makes enquiries and discovers that Matthew and his family actually existed, and that the answers to the many questions raised by Matthew’s story relate back to the past and to Romania.  Could they also be the key to Charmery’s murder?

This book is atmospheric, and utterly gripping, I forgot to eat. When I looked up from the book I had to readjust to where I was, so absorbing is the narrative

I cannot recommend this book too highly.

Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes

Sarah Rayne's first novel was published in 1982, and for several years she juggled writing books with working in property, pounding an elderly typewriter into the small hours in order to meet deadlines.  Much of the inspiration for her dark psychological thrillers comes from the histories and atmospheres of old buildings, a fact that is strongly apparent in many of her settings - Mortmain House in A Dark Dividing, Twygrist Mill in Spider Light, and the Tarleton Theatre in Ghost Song. She has written more than 25 books to date, and her work has met with considerable acclaim. Her books are also published in America, as well as having been translated into German, Dutch, Russian and Turkish.  In 2011, she published the first of a series of ghost-themed books, featuring the Oxford don, Michael Flint, and the antiques dealer, Nell West, who made their debut in Property of a Lady. Several years ago, Sarah also wrote six contemporary horror books, originally under the pen-name of Frances Gordon. Her most recent series features music researcher Phineas Fox. There are five books in the series.

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