The Secret Shadows of Ravensfall by Vivien Fiske Wake

(Ravensfall, #2)

Malvina Raven returned to New Zealand determined to vanquish the ghosts in her family's past-a past filled with terror, murder, and madness that even now stalked her with terrible nightmares that left her trembling in her bed. Surely now that she was a woman grown she would be able to walk the empty rooms and winding halls of Ravensfall without fear.

But Ravensfall was not empty at all. Malvina's cousins Clinton and Lucy lived there now, along with Devlin Fordyke, a handsome, brooding American who was renting one of the estate cottages. And none of them seemed at all happy to see her. Sudden silences greeted her when she entered a room: her every move was regarded with cold suspicion. She began to suffer paralyzing sleepiness and eerie delusions that soon had her doubting her sanity. Then she discovered the laudanum, and Malvina knew the truth. Someone was trying to scare her away from her childhood home...someone who knew far too much about the ghosts of Ravensfall for Malvina's own good!

Gothics are mixed bags. I can't read them back to back but I'm always drawn back to them. Let's blame the ominous stories, the cheesy but beloved covers, the weird writing style. Some are downright great, which keeps me plowing through the mediocre majority.

For a Gothic, this was more complex than others in its vein. Malvina Raven (that name...) has come to her family's castle/house/whatever and encounters family there she's never met before. She wants to combat nightmares and personal ghosts, and this is the medicine her psychologist dished out. Unlike a lot of gothics, I wasn't sure until later who the eventual love interest would end up being.

The heroine was a little simple minded and flighty, but bearable. Characters work and the mystery twist at the end wasn't bad, but this book suffered from some downtime and not a tightly constructed story. The suspense isn't tightly woven, there's some dull moments, and half the time I was on the edge of my seat hoping something bad would finally happen.

The exclamation marks were way overdone - and some of the dialogue trying.

Even when it comes to simple stuff like having tea -

"No sugar, please. I prefer my tea without!"

0_O Really? Is there some hidden rule that Gothics have to have so many exclamation points?

Overall a good story for this type of genre, though, so most Gothic fans should like it. There's the different inclusion of some religious strangeness with the island and its inhabitants, so this intriguing history and difference delivered a different touch. It's nothing I'll remember in a few months and not re-readable, although the cover alone deserves some praise.

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