Review: ‘The Missing Years’ by Lexie Elliott ⭐⭐⭐⭐
An eerie old Scottish manor in the middle of nowhere that’s now hers.
Ailsa Caler has inherited half of a house. The other half belongs to a man who disappeared without a trace twenty-seven years ago. Her father.
Leaving London behind to settle her mother’s estate, Ailsa returns to her childhood home nestled amongst the craggy peaks of the Scottish Highlands, accompanied by the half-sister she’s never taken the time to get to know.
With the past threatening to swallow her whole, she can’t escape the claustrophobic feeling that the house itself is watching her, or ignore how animals take care never to set foot within its garden.
And when Ailsa confronts the first nighttime intruder, she sees that the manor’s careless rugged beauty could cost her everything…
The eerie and bizarre is woven throughout this tale about family and self-discovery from the outset. Chapter one ended in a terrifying and unexpected manner that had me shook. I wasn’t sure if I should read this at night…
“The Manse is listening, holding its breath”
Unused to people knowing about her family, it’s a shock for Ailsa to realise her family is part of local legend and that everyone in the small community has an opinion on her mother, who was a somewhat famous painter, and her father’s disappearance, after a diamond buying trip twenty-seven years ago. Many of the locals are openly hostile to her being back while others are fascinated by the story and The Manse. As Ailsa begins feel watched by the house and strange, menacing things begin to occur, she feels increasing unease. Surely the rumours of the supernatural surrounding The Manse can’t be true. And who would want her gone so badly that they threaten her? I thought Ailsa’s attempt to rationalise what was happening, her fear and suspicion of everyone was well written. As a reader I couldn’t make sense of it all and didn’t know what to believe either.
I liked that before each chapter there would be a short paragraph imagining a different scenario for her father’s life since he disappeared. These were a great insight into Ailsa’s thoughts on the matter as she otherwise holds her cards very close to her chest, preferring not to really speak about him or how she’s been affected by his sudden vanishing when she was just seven years old. In fact, Ailsa is a bit of a lost soul. She was dragged around various homes by her mother who couldn’t afford to care for her daughter for many years and their relationship never recovered. They were estranged at the time of her death, which is also the reason she has never got to know her half-sister. Her forced independance and struggle to open up were all evident as she attempted to reacquaint herself with Carrie and build a real relationship.
This book was filled with an array of colourful characters. Jamie and Fiona McCue, siblings who are also Ailsa’s closest neighbours, were probably the most colourful of all. Fiona is fascinated with The Manse, some might say obsessed, and believes some strange things about it. Even her adorable son, Callum, has some unusual ideas. Ailsa doesn’t trust or like Fiona and she’s her prime suspect for all the strange goings on at The Manse.
“I can almost see the emotions swirling inside me, a scarlet and black tornado.”
The breathtaking finale had me on the edge of my seat as I raced towards to end. I had no idea how it would end but nothing prepared me for the shocking twists as the author pulled the rug from under me. Atmospheric, haunting, creepy and macabre, the author’s poetic style of writing adds to the tone of this novel. The Scottish dialect from some characters was a little tricky to read at first but soon became nothing more than a way to hear their voice in my head more clearly. A steady-paced, engrossing read for anyone who loves a good thriller.
Thank you to Atlantic Books for providing me with an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Publication Date: 6th June 2019.