Thursday, November 14, 2013

Review: The Curse of Malenfer Manor by Iain McChesney

It's review time! I was lucky enough to receive an Advanced Reading Copy of The Curse of Malenfer Manor by Iain McChesney.You can follow Iain on Facebook or Goodreads, and you can purchase the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes for just $0.99.

About the Author:

Iain is a writer of gothic mysteries.

He was born and raised in Scotland. He studied History and Geography at the University of Glasgow.

The World Wars left Iain’s family with generations of widows. As a result, Iain has always been interested in the tangible effects of history on family dynamics and in the power of narrative to awaken those long dead.

For the characters in The Curse of Malenfer Manor, he drew on childhood reminiscences and verbal family history—though he hastens to add that his family had barely a penny, far less a manor, and any ghosts dwell only in memory.

He lives in Vancouver, Canada, with his wife and two children.

About the Book:

Those in line to the Malenfer estate are succumbing to terrible ends –is a supernatural legacy at work, or something entirely more human?

Young Irish mercenary Dermot Ward retreats to Paris at the close of World War I where he drinks to forget his experiences, especially the death of his comrade, Arthur Malenfer. But Arthur has not forgotten Dermot. Dead but not departed, Arthur has unfinished business and needs the help of the living.

Upon his arrival at Malenfer Manor, Dermot finds himself embroiled in a mystery of murder, succession, and ambition. Dermot falls in love with the youngest Malenfer, the beautiful fey Simonne, but in his way are Simonne’s mismatched fiancé, her own connections to the spirit world, Dermot’s guilt over the circumstances of Arthur’s death… and the curse.

My Review: 

The Curse of Malenfer ManorThe Curse of Malenfer Manor by Iain McChesney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you follow my reviews, you already know this, but for those who don't...I'd like to preface this review with one very important fact about me: I'm an impatient reader.

That being said, this book is pretty good. There's a lot of back story to dig through, and with some of the characters I got pretty impatient with it (namely the Crevel's junior and senior when the focus shifted to them). I do absolutely love how the history between Arthur and Dermot is told in bits and pieces, and especially how Arthur's time after the tunnel is presented.

Once Dermot and Arthur get to Malenfer Manor, the story picks up and doesn't let go. It turns into a real nail-biter as you try to sort out whether or not the curse is at work, or a tangible villain is responsible. Mysteries are not my typical genre, but the ghost story and curse drew me into this one. So I can't really compare it to anything out there in the genre, but I can say it was like playing Clue as I tried to solve the mystery, which was a lot of fun. It certainly kept me guessing until the very end.

Iain McChesney balanced the supernatural element very well in this book. Ghosts are fun to play with, but can easily get overplayed. Iain McChesney teases the reader with the Witch and the possibility of other ghosts afoot just enough. I also really appreciated the fresh take on ghosts with the experiences of Arthur. His phantom feelings are really well done and help his character to believably straddle the world of the living and the world of the dead.

Dermot is a wonderful and refreshing reluctant hero. A soldier riddled with guilt over his experiences at war, all he wants to do is help Arthur with this final endeavor from beyond the grave and then probably go back to drinking away the things that truly haunt him. His growth is really great to see.

My impatience aside, this was a fun read. I like that it wasn't predictable in the slightest, the characters were so well-rounded and all had clear and vivid histories in the author's mind, and that it was well-told. Iain McChesney has a very sophisticated voice that throws you back to the feeling of reading the classics, and I wouldn't be surprised if one of his books landed under that heading a hundred years from now.

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