on May 18, 2004
While there is nothing stucturally wrong with this novel, those reading it because they are fans of Barbara Woods newer lengthy family sagas, "Virgins of Paradise", "Soul Flame", "Domina" and "Vital Signs", revolving around career-minded women, will be disappointed with this run-of-the-mill tale of gothic intrigue. This familiar author's voice simply is not present in this offering.
The plot, thoroughly early Victorian, features first-person narrator Leyla, a 20-something heroine who stumbles upon her family's curious legacy only after her mother's death and the receipt of a letter compelling her to the Pemberton family manor---a complex that she and her mother had fled after the tragic deaths of Leyla's father and young brother. Once at the Hurst where her reintroduction to family members fails to strike any fond family memories, Leyla struggles to discern the troubling secret that seems to encumber her relatives with a fatalistic penchant for disasterous accidents and solitary confinement. Here, Woods successfully reproduces a Poe-like atmosphere where the darkness of the mind rivals that of the devil, yet her renderings of this 19th century world border on the somber; Leyla's sensibilities are far from engaging, making her revelations and quests through Pemberton's dark corridors tedious and rather mundane. The story, again reminiscent of Poe, tries to horrify us with ideas of madness, hereditary illness and family curses---all of which are presented in a dry unsatisfactory manner that Poe could get away with, but Woods, alas, cannot. Only during the story's denouement, does the emerging personality of Wood shine through in the personage of the doctor and his rather convenient laboratory analysis of one family member's blood cells. Otherwise, "Curse This House", stands as a B-rated gothic thriller without the de riguer girl-with-flying-hair-standing-on-a-precipice cover art most of these books employ to lure their readers.
This book was recommended to me as a ghost story. It is certainly not that, and certainly recommended only to those who wish to read this author's earlier works. If you are looking for Gothic go for the gold and read the Bronte sisters, Du Maurier or Edgar Allen himself. If you want a contemporary ghost story try "Julian's House" by Judith Hawkes or Barbara Erskine's " House of Dreams."
on August 27, 2002
At the beginning is an interesting book, but in the middle of it it goes out of the story so many times that is a little boring, and at the end, when Colin talk to Leyla you will know everything he is going to say to her (because Leyla deducted before) and Leyla get impressed at the conversation.
Many things of the book are taken out of the hand (I can't write them right here because I will tell you the end of the story) so the story gets a good end.
On the other hand, the story is a good one because all the members of the family, except one, want her own good by keeping a secret that will hurt Leyla, at least is what they think.
I put three stars to the book because is not what I expected of Barbara, but I recommend to read it you will have a good time.