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Jul 8, 2018

Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley

August 07 2018 USA edition 
Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley
August 07 2018 Sourcebook Landmark
448 pages HistFic/Sci fi/Fantasy
egalley provided via NetGalley from the publisher, thank you!

"The house, when I first saw it, seemed intent on guarding what it knew; but we all learned, by the end of it, that secrets aren't such easy things to keep."

It's late summer, war is raging, and families are torn apart by divided loyalties and deadly secrets. In this complex and dangerous time, a young French Canadian lieutenant is captured and billeted with a Long Island family, an unwilling and unwelcome guest. As he begins to pitch in with the never-ending household tasks and farm chores, Jean-Philippe de Sabran finds himself drawn to the daughter of the house. Slowly, Lydia Wilde comes to lean on Jean-Philippe, true soldier and gentleman, until their lives become inextricably intertwined. Legend has it that the forbidden love between Jean-Philippe and Lydia ended tragically, but centuries later, the clues they left behind slowly unveil the true story. Part history, part romance, and all kinds of magic, Susanna Kearsley's latest masterpiece will draw you in and never let you go, even long after you've closed the last page.

I do like this cover as a departure from their previous covers but I think there are a few different covers depending on region. I have to sadly state that this was not my favorite Susanna Kearsley novel. No matter how much I tried to enjoy it there were times I just could not talk myself into picking it up again. I spent 20 plus years on Long Island and I thought I would feel a special connection to the setting but it was not very atmospheric for me. I love ghost stories and the novel was unsuccessful in trying to be a creepy ghostly goose bumps thing. Being told in the same style of dual time period that Susanna Kearsley is known for writing the ghosts were in the form of the occasional unplugged lamp in the house, or the spark of a lantern in the woods and the modern day characters would imagine that they were there in the house of the Wilde family.

The historical time period story was very interesting:  the Wilde family (all fictitious unfortunately) hosting prisoners of war while keeping a slave that they called a cook. The modern day story of Charley dealing with her restless/depressed niece as Charley discovers clues of the Wilde family is very slow but I did appreciate the slavery issue and how the descendants of the family were saddened that their family did indeed have slaves which was a no-no for the northern half of the country at the time. (The time being when there was a war going on so when the Canadian prisoner falls in love with the young daughter Lydia all drama is supposed to ensue.)

The house is a character in itself, since the spook factor is the fact that some things just don't work right when Charley is around but the best part of the story was the thread of romantic tension between Charley and the guy who was working on renovations. There were a lot of loose threads for Charley to tie together as she learned more about the Wilde house and the people who lived there. The ending did actually make up a bit for the slow start and I appreciated the happier than expected conclusion.

The one thing that set me off on the wrong foot altogether was the dividing line of Canada and USA. Canada readers were treated to an April publication date while Long Island and the rest of the USA had to wait until an August publication date. BOOOO

Maybe since it was my eighth Susanna Kearsley it was just destined to be boring all the way around, but this one just wasn't all there for me as much as some of her others were:

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