YES…OH YES…. YES…YES…YES…
This is one book where each and every thread in the story enthralled me completely.
Immersive and utterly addictive Rebecca James captures the very essence of a chilly gothic story with more than its share of spices which raises goosebumps on our skin. The story is in fact quite wholesome with a dual timeline narrative, and different styles of romances in both eras, one showing the neediness and hunger for love, the other showing manipulation in the name of love, murder, and secrets, and then, of course, the keystone of this story, the ghostly witch haunting Winterbourne Hall.
The Woman In The Mirror is the story of Winterbourne Hall, told thru the POVs of two generations of women, Alice in 1947 and Rachel in the present. The author has very skilfully sketched the story of these two women thru the events that occur in their lives. Alice, suffering from more than one trauma, is desperately seeking love and acceptance being denied the same from her parents. Rachel knowing her adopted status has never felt adequate. It is their story, how coming to Winterbourne Hall affects both of them, how things begin to fall apart for ALice with no way out while Rachel seemingly very decisive and focused in her work fails to find the same rhythm in her personal space. Rebecca James introduces the past of both characters and makes the readers understand what makes them tick in a tantalizing fashion. Bits and pieces get revealed but more than their past, Winterbourne Hall by itself has a score to settle with all the women residing inside its walls.
The writing by the author felt insidious, there is no ‘on your face’ ghostly menace, but like the painting that keeps changing and the marks left on the women, the darkness is always just THERE. This is probably one of the best gothic thrillers out there that reminds us of the greats in the genre with the Cornish mists and the spooky setting, the supernatural presence, the governess, and a character like Jonathan whom it is easy to cast as a villain in this story, the children at times loving but most times cunning and scheming, the house all warm and inviting initially but becoming foreboding and eerie as the story progresses, The Woman In The Mirror is the quintessential gothic classic and with a present timeline seamlessly woven thru the story, Rebecca James turns it into a spectacular feast appeasing my craving.
I listened to the audio narrated by Charlotte Newton-John and Katharine Mangold and it needs to be said that the different voices raise goosebumps whilst listening and honestly left me with chills, especially with that ending! Phew!
1947 Governess Alice Miller loves Winterbourne the moment she sees it. Towering over the Cornish cliffs, its dark corners and tall turrets promise that, if Alice can hide from her ghosts anywhere, it’s here. And who better to play hide and seek with than twins Constance and Edmund? Angelic and motherless, they are perfect little companions. 2018 Adopted at birth, Rachel’s roots are a mystery. So, when a letter brings news of the death of an unknown relative, Constance de Grey, Rachel travels to Cornwall, vowing to uncover her past. With each new arrival, something in Winterbourne stirs. It’s hiding in the paintings. It’s sitting on the stairs. It’s waiting in a mirror, behind a locked door.
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