On a wintry night in 1893, Esther Tull, a seamstress, travels to Lord Strythe’s London home. Under her clothes, Esther has hidden a message, but why?
In the novel, “The House on Vesper Sands”, there are three central characters keen on solving the mystery.
Octavia Hillingdon is a journalist bored with writing society columns and intrigued by rumors of missing women and “The Spiriters” who steal souls. Octavia would do what she does best: encourage the right kind of people to say the wrong kind of thing.
Gideon Bliss is a poor university student. Gideon fears for the life of Angie Tatton, the woman he loves, who is among the missing. Gideon implores Inspector Cutter of Scotland Yard to find Angie before it is too late.
Inspector Henry Cutter is more complicated than he seems at first. The Inspector’s impatience – often with the young Gideon Bliss – brings humor to this Victorian ghost story.
“There is not much, Bliss, that you do not know how to say. It is more in the shutting off of the valve that you are inclined to struggle.”
Running into dead ends throughout their investigation, Octavia, Gideon, and the Inspector are drawn together to The House on Vesper Sands itself. The house, in its isolation among the dunes, has a faded elegance as it has fallen into neglect.
The novel’s eerie atmosphere even creeps into the character’s thoughts.
At any time, this place might have had a melancholy appearance, but the snow made it seem otherworldly…He had not considered it before, the way the solid world was made strange by snow, the quiet secrecy it brought to ordinary things.
“The House on Vesper Sands” offers strong characters alongside delicate prose in a historical mystery with a literal shout-out to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Doyle fans will understand the reference). The epilogue should not be missed because it serves as the foundation for a new mystery series.
The author, Paraic O’Donnell, is a writer of fiction and poetry. His first novel, “The Maker of Swans” was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards in the Newcomer of the Year category.
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Once Upon a Tome
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Jane Austen: A Life
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