A Place of Secrets by Rachel Hore

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REVIEW: 4.5/5

BLURB: “Can dreams be passed down through families? As a child Jude suffered a recurrent nightmare: running through a dark forest, crying for her mother. Now her six-year-old niece, Summer, is having the same dream, and Jude is frightened for her. A successful auctioneer, Jude is struggling to come to terms with the death of her husband. When she’s asked to value a collection of scientific instruments and manuscripts belonging to Anthony Wickham, a lonely 18th-century astronomer, she leaps at the chance to escape London for the untamed beauty of Norfolk, where she grew up. As Jude untangles Wickham’s tragic story, she discovers threatening links to the present. What have Summer’s nightmares to do with Starborough folly, the eerie crumbling tower in the woods from which Wickham and his adopted daughter Esther once viewed the night sky? With the help of Euan, a local naturalist, Jude searches for answers in the wild, haunting splendour of the Norfolk forests. Dare she leave behind the sadness in her own life, and learn to love again?”

REVIEW: This novel is both one of the most fascinating crossovers of past and present I have ever read, and also one of the most complex to try and explain! The novel takes so many twists and turns, both in Jude’s present story and the past that she becomes absorbed in through her research, that it is difficult to try and describe the plot without giving too much away. Rather than attempting to do this and giving away spoilers of this amazing novel, I will say instead that I thoroughly enjoyed it. The story of Jude and her conflict with her sister Claire, as well as her fascinating journey of discovery into the life of Esther Wickham, whose journals she discovers in the back of a cupboard whilst she is valuating the books of Esther’s adopted father, Anthony Wickham, is a brilliant combination of historical enquiry and modern family dilemmas. Jude’s blossoming relationship with Euan, whom she fears may in fact have feelings for Claire, also provides the added tension to the sisterly dynamic that makes Jude and Claire’s relationship so interesting. The story of Esther, revealed through her journals, as well as the mystery of Tamsin Lovall, Jude’s gran’s closest friend from childhood who disappeared one day, both have links to the present that astonish and amaze the reader. The book in its entirety is extremely gripping and holds the attention of the reader from beginning to end. I look forward to reading more of Hore’s  books in the future.

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