by Gillian Shields
Published by Harper Audio, June 2010
Wyldcliffe Abbey School for Young Ladies, housed in a Gothic mansion on the bleak northern moors, is elite, expensive, and unwelcoming. When Evie Johnson is torn away from her home by the sea to become the newest scholarship student, she is more isolated than she could have dreamed. Strict teachers, snobbish students, and the oppressive atmosphere of Wyldcliffe leave Evie drowning in loneliness.
Evie’s only lifeline is Sebastian, a rebellious, mocking, dangerously attractive young man she meets by chance. As Evie’s feelings for Sebastian grow with each secret meeting, she starts to fear that he is hiding something about his past. And she is haunted by glimpses of a strange, ghostly girl—a girl who is so eerily like Evie, she could be a sister. Evie is slowly drawn into a tangled web of past and present that she cannot control. And as the extraordinary, elemental forces of Wyldcliffe rise up like the mighty sea, Evie is faced with an astounding truth about Sebastian, and her own incredible fate.
Gillian Shields’s electrifying tale will dazzle readers with suspense, mysticism, and romance.
This was a download from the Sync YA as a free audiobook this summer.
I fully expected this to be a standard Gothic thriller with a love story. However, while it was that, it was far from standard. Yes, the tale is somewhat predictable, but what makes this stand out is Shield’s ability to pull together a beautifully toned story that seamlessly transitions from past to present as the narration changes from Evie’s point of view to Agnes’s. The depth of the characters, and Shield’s decision to make Sebastian an un-predictable love interest pull this story together making it stand out from the rest.
I liked the narration of the audiobook which held me even though I listened to it sporadically. With two characters, Evie and Agnes, being so similar, yet from different time periods, it could have been easy to be lost as the narration transitions back and forth, but Shield’s superb writing allowed for a powerful reading that keeps you coming back for more. I know that I would have had a hard time putting the book down if I had read it in that format.
I’ve also added the other novels in the series to my reading list, but this book can stand on its own, and I do not feel left hanging having not read the others. It’s a bit heavy and deep at times, so not particularly a light summer read, but as the weather gets cooler, it’s a good book to keep in mind when you want to curl up with a good book.
This post is a selection for the Peril the First portion of the 6th annual R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril (R.I.P.) Challenge. To find out more information and/or to sign up to participate, please follow the link. If you are interested in more books or films that are being reviewed as part of this event, please visit the R.I.P. VI Review Site. (This paragraph borrowed from Carl V. who is hosting R.I.P. VI)