Author: L. M. Merrington
Publisher: Momentum Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd
Publication: October 8th 2015
Jacket design: Raewyn Brack
Author photographer: James Walsh
"This book was provided by NetGalley in exchange for my honest review alongside my proffered thank-you for asking."
|L. M. Merrington|
Greythorne will do this to you.
L. M. Merrington's writing is such a comfortable read, the tension she brings you while your reading is supreme.
When I read the blurb for Greythorne, it had me thinking of one of my favorite books - Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. To my enjoyment, after I started this novel I threw out Frankenstein and went on another 'vacation'; a spot I have not had the pleasure of visiting.
Though Greythorne does mirror the same type of settings and scenes as Frankenstein, appreciation goes out to the twists to the lay of the land both inside and out of Greythorne Manor.
The story opens with a bright 18 year old young lady by the name of Nell Featherstone at the train station traveling to the village of Grimly to take charge of eight year old Sophie Greythorne. Nell had lost her parents to typhoid fever at an early age and grew up at the Brookvale Girls Home.
Sophie's father Doctor Nathaniel Greythorne had lost his wife Lucy and wrote to Brookvale Girls Home requesting a governess for his daughter. A governess who ..."must not be of the temperment to pine for society or gaiety, for she will not find it here ... a sensible, practical girl, but not of a disposition so dour that mirth is a stranger to her." ...
After reading the letter, the Matron thought of Nell immediately and with Nell being not averse to keeping company and a girl of good sense, it had been decided. Nell will be the new governess at Greythorne Manor. Matron had informed Nell not to fear her travels for she will have escorts picking her up at her destinations.
Her travels are a new experience for her and everyone she meets there at the train station and on the way are kind and personable. The plump apple-red cheeked Elsie Drabble was her riding companion and Elsie was delighted to find someone to talk to on such a long journey. And talk she did.
After inquiring where Nell was bound, Mrs. Drabble's demeanor changed and her friendly eyes were suddenly hooded. As all whom she had contact with finding out her destination.
Curious thoughts arise in her as you can imagine.
She arrives in Grimly spending the night at the cozy looking Grimly Arms. Grimly Arms is ran by Arthur Greernslade and his wife Frances, both having the persona of a fatherly/motherly type. Just great down-to-earth folk. And yes, even Arthur and his wife have the same demeanor as Mrs. Drabble about her destination. Arthur claims that Greythorne Manor is no place for a child and no place for a young lady as Nell. ..."There's queer goings-on there, it's said." ... being rest assured from Frances, if the place is not for Nell she could come back to Grimly Arms and find a different path to venture.
Her escort Mr. Jonas would not be arriving to take her the rest of the way till lunchtime due to having to wait for the tide, so the three of them attend church. Again the scenario: some members of the congregation including the vicar, Mr. Davis himself, deem that accepting a position at Greythorne Manor may be ill-advised.
Why wouldn't any one tell her the 'Why'?
After church and a lunch the bell on the main door of Grimly Arms rang out from the arrival of Mr. Jonas.
Mr. Jonas who does a lot of grunting is a long time assistant to Nathaniel and along with Sophie they populate the island of where the lonesome and imposing Greythorne Manor sits. He collects her trunk of all her worldly possessions and they both set off rowing toward the island. Thoughts of what was "not said" about the place run through her as her final destination comes into view.
Who knows? It could very well be that Doctor Nathaniel Greythorne is nothing more but a reclusive grief-stricken eccentric old man. Nell is quite determined on her mission of molding Sophie into a bright and sociable woman and show to all how wrong they'd been about the "rumors and superstitions".
They arrive and instead of using the front door (which has not been used since Lucy's death) they enter through what was clearly the servants entrance. Nell is led through the family areas and along a wide hallway where Jonas finally stops and takes a large ring of keys from his pocket and opens a door.
"These are you quarters," he said. "The schoolroom and Mistress Sophie's bedroom are connected by an internal door. You may go to these ares, the kitchen, the library, the drawing room, the dining room, and the garden; not to wander anywhere else. Is that clear?"
She meets Sophie, pale and wispy, her bone structure as fine as a bird and a complexion the color of milk. Dark eyes in a pale face. Aloof of Nell's presence.
She finally says hello to Nell and asks, "How does the moon affect the tide? I would ask Papa, but he's busy."
A couple of days later she is introduced to the doctor and he is pleased to find that he is having dinner with an erudite. The days go by and turn to months, Sophie and Nell start to bond and Nell is intrigued with the history of this little girl and all the strangeness of Greythorne Manor.
As the story moves along in all its eeriness, Nell wonders what ever happened to Lucy Greythorne and what will become of her daughter?
Their days begin to fall into a rhythm of learning in the morning with the afternoons devoted to creative pursuits. Nell finds Sophie is quite the explorer and learns she has discovered things. Things no one else knows.
She also learns of Sophie's nightmares are practically a nightly event.
After a brutal storm, Jonas and Nell survey the damage and discover Lucy Greythorne's grave is unearthed and - empty. Jolted to the core of your very being you could imagine the fright young Nell went through.
Jonas in a uncharacteristic gentleness: "Don't worry, miss, the mistress ain't there."
Ms. Merrington's writing grabbed me from the start. Her haunting imagery descriptions of the scenes and settings throughout this novel are perfect. This novel moves with a fluid controlled pace and to tell the truth - my pace was not quick enough to find out what in the world was going on.
That night in the lab. Deep in the bowels of Greythorne Manor. The truth. The enigmatic closure of all the gossip and superstitions that surrounded the village of Grimly lay.
The epilogue is a fantastic edge-of-your-seat clincher. From all the hard work Ms. Merrington had put into this read I really don't want give any clue on what happens.
I will say though, Nell Featherstone works very hard in deciding what to do. A decision that might affect lives - especially hers.
Pure. Simple. Evilicious.
- Recommended for all horror lovers -
Here's where you can get your fingers on Greythorne:
About the author
L.M. Merrington was born in Melbourne, Australia. She has worked as a freelance journalist and academic, and holds a PhD in international relations, focusing on the China-India relationship. Her journalism and academic writing has appeared in publications including The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Bulletin. Greythorne is her first novel.