Published: January 9th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: Historical Fiction
It’s Publication Day and my stop on the blog tour for this xx novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things tours for the invitation to take part, and to Orion Books for the gifted copy of the novel.
Her fate was decided. Her death foretold. Her past about to be unforgotten.
When Lily Bell is sold by her father to a ‘Professor of Ghosts’ to settle a bad debt, she dreams of finding fame on the London stage. But Erasmus Salt wants Lily not as an actress, but his very own ghost – the heart of his elaborate illusion for those desperate for a glimpse of the spirit world…
Obsessed with perfection, Erasmus goes to extreme lengths to ensure his illusion is realistic. When Lily comes across her own obituary in the paper, and then her headstone in the cemetery, she realises she is trapped, her own parents think she is dead, and that her fate is soon to become even darker…
A spellbinding story of obsession, the lure of fame, and the power of illusion.
Lily Bell feels trapped. Sold by her step-father as payment for bad debt she is now the property of Erasmus Salt, a self-proclaimed Professor of Ghosts. Thinking she was being sold to be an actress, Lily thought at least her dire situation might lead to her following her dream of fame on the London stage, but instead she is hidden away and must perform each night as a ghost summoned from the dead. Growing increasingly frustrated and unsettled, Lily finally discovers the macabre lengths Erasmus has gone to for his illusion; the world thinks she is really dead. Knowing she’s in more danger than she thought, she starts to plot her escape. But as things become increasingly complex and grim, she fears she might never be free of the Professor’s clutches.
The Unforgetting started slowly but I was soon drawn into the strange, ominous, claustrophobic and bleak world Lily inhabits with siblings Erasmus and Faye Salt. Lily is an easy character to like. She’s sweet, naive, hopeful and has big dreams. She has concerns about Erasmus and things he expects of her from the start, but with the help of his sister Faye she brushes them aside as him knowing what is best for the performance. I liked that she also showed an assertive side and wasn’t afraid to make her voice heard. As her situation darkened, I felt scared for Lily and was worried she was going to meet a tragic end and was on tenterhooks until the last page.
Erasmus Salt is an arrogant, angry, ominous and devious man. I got bad vibes from him straight away but never imagined how vile and evil he and his plans could be. Stemming from a bizarre obsession with his deceased mother, he is consumed with the idea of actually returning a spirit to human form, and will stop at nothing to achieve it. Faye Salt, his sister, comes across initially as a mousy servant but it soon becomes clear she is terrified of her brother and, as her backstory is gradually told, we learn it has origins in their childhood, particularly after the deaths of their parents when they were still young. She starts as a background character but slowly becomes a vital part of the story and the character I found most interesting. I felt sad for her and understood why she did some of the more questionable things she did, and was willing her through the pages to find the strength she needed and to find happiness after all she’s been through. She and Lily have a relationship that is very close in proximity, but quite distant in emotion, which was interesting to read. Though I can’t help but think that if they had just confided in each other things could have turned out very differently for both of them.
The Unforgetting is a story about obsession, desire, love, loss, death, illusions and dreams. It is a story of smoke and mirrors where so often things aren’t what they seem and characters are misled or misunderstood. It started out quite simple but becomes a multilayered story that had some surprising twists and kept me captivated. There were a few unanswered questions but I liked the direction the author took the story and the way she ended it. This is the perfect read for lovers of historical fiction who like their stories a little bit eerie, strange and sinister.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rose Black has written stories all her life. Her long-standing fascination with the Victorians and 19th century England underlies this novel. An award-winning freelance writer, she’s covered health, overseas development and education. Married, with two children, she lives partly in London and at other times by the sea. In her spare time she enjoys wild swimming and growing food and flowers on her allotment.