Published: March 3rd 2022
Genre: Historical Fiction, Suspense, Thriller, Historical Romance, Psychological Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this mesmerising and haunting tale. Thank you to Head of Zeus for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.
Part ghost story, part novel of suspense The Marsh House is the haunting second novel from the author of The Night of the Flood where two women, separated by decades, are drawn together by one, mysterious house on the North Norfolk coast.
December, 1962. Desperate to create a happy Christmas for her young daughter, Franny, after a disastrous year, Malorie rents a remote house on the Norfolk coast. But once there, the strained silence between them feels louder than ever. As Malorie digs for decorations in the attic, she comes across the notebooks of the teenaged Rosemary, who lived in the house thirty years before. Trapped inside by a blizzard, and with long days and nights ahead of her, Malorie begins to read. Though she knows she needs to focus on the present, she finds herself inexorably drawn into the past…
July, 1931. Rosemary lives in the Marsh House with her austere father, surrounded by unspoken truths and rumours. So when the glamorous Lafferty family moves to the village, she succumbs easily to their charm. Dazzled by the beautiful Hilda and her dashing brother, Franklin, Rosemary fails to see the danger that lurks beneath their bright façades…
As Malorie reads Rosemary’s diary, past and present begin to merge in this moving story of mothers and daughters, family obligation and deeply buried secrets.
“No-one had lived in the house for years afore they arrived last winter. Not since all that fuss in thirty-four… I weren’t surprised to see her though. Oh, no, it was her all right. We’d been waiting for her.”
OMG. This book! I expected it to be good after hearing so much praise for Zoe Somerville’s debut novel, but I was unprepared for the chilling gothic masterpiece that lurked between these pages. I inhaled this book in one sitting, staying up until 3am in a desperate need for answers. It was totally worth it and I have no doubt that this will make it into my top books of the year when December rolls around.
December 1962. Malorie has rented a remote house on the Norfolk coast hoping to create a magical and memorable Christmas for her daughter Franny after a difficult year. Known as The Marsh House, its eerie atmosphere looms over them from the moment they cross the threshold. While looking for Christmas decorations in the attic they come across an old suitcase filled with papers and notebooks. Upon closer inspection, Malorie discovers that the notebooks are the diaries of Rosemary Wright, a teenage girl who lived at the house thirty years earlier. Curiosity taking over, Malorie begins to read and becomes fixated on the mysterious past of this young girl. But what secrets are waiting to be uncovered inside Rosemary’s diaries?
“I knew she’d found something and what she’d be looking for. She wanted evidence. Proof. Facts. As if it would all be there for her and she could lay it all out and it would make sense. But it’s never as simple as that. The graves are elsewhere. The bones are dust. It’s not graves that tell you a history, a story of a life. That’s much harder to find, but if you know where to look, you can find it. It will reveal itself.”
The Marsh House is literary gothic fiction at its best. The perfect combination of lyrical prose, page turning plot, chilling atmosphere and gripping tension, this haunting tale had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. Creepily claustrophobic and almost dreamlike in places, there is a sense of the otherworldly about it. The snow storm adds to the sense of isolation and increases the fear when strange and inexplicable occurrences begin to make Marlorie question her own sanity.
Zoe Somerivlle is a gifted storyteller and the style of this book was spot on for me. I loved the short, cryptic chapters from an unknown narrator who is watching Malorie and Franny and Rosemary’s diary was an inspired choice that brought Rosemary alive and allowed us to connect with her. Just like Malorie I was enthralled and desperate to know what happened next in her story. The story moves between the two timelines smoothly, punctuated by the short chapters from the mysterious narrator that sent shivers down my spine each time they appeared. There was no chance of me putting this book down until I had all the answers.
Malorie and Rosemary are great narrators who capture the imagination and hold you in the palm of their hand as the story unfolds. They are fascinating, flawed and real, a whole world of heartbreak, fear, regret and guilt to be found in these women. And their internal conflict and pain is told so vividly that I could feel it in my own soul. From the start we know Malorie believes there to be a connection between her father and Marsh House so I spent the book looking for clues and trying to guess how he might be connected. I had my theories, one of which was correct, but what I loved is how the author creates just enough doubt to make you second guess and not feel sure until the moment just before the big reveal, adding to the mystery and suspense.
“There was something rotten that had been hiding in front of her and it was revealing itself.”
Mesmerising, chilling and immersive, this is a clear your schedule and read it in one sitting kind of book. An easy five stars from me, I can’t recommend it highly enough. I will be reading Zoe’s first book as soon as possible and am excited to watch this talented author’s star undoubtedly rise.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Zoë Somerville is originally from Norfolk, but has settled with her husband and children in the West Country. She works as an English teacher. Zoë began her debut novel, The Night of the Flood on the Bath Spa Creative Writing MA in 2016. It was published in September 2020. Her second novel, The Marsh House, a ghost story and mystery is published in March 2022. She is currently writing her third novel.
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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx
Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.