This is one of the best books I've ever read! The moment I finished it I wanted to flip back to the start and read it again! It is utterly gorgeous! A mystery set over two time periods, the late 1960s and the present day, it's about an old house nicknamed Black Rabbit Hall and the dysfunctional family who used to live there. Atmospheric and completely spellbinding, it reminded me of Daphne du Maurier and Dodie Smith. I absolutely loved it!
The story starts in the present day, with Lorna and her fiancé Jon trying to find a manor house in Cornwall called Pencraw Hall, because Lorna saw a photo on the Internet and wants to get married there. As soon as she sees the house she becomes obsessed by it. Ignoring the fact that it's practically derelict and owned by a very strange old lady, she arranges to stay there over one weekend - without Jon - and is determined to learn its secrets.
In the 1960s Amber Alton spends every holiday at Black Rabbit Hall, along with her parents and three siblings: her twin Toby, Barney and Kitty. Allowed to run wild, it's only a matter of time before tragedy strikes.
I think I enjoyed this story so much because of the setting - the idea of a house with a hydrangea growing through the ballroom floor! - it's beautifully written and the characters were so well drawn, particularly the children. I especially loved Amber, Toby and Lucian.
Black Rabbit Hall is a hard one to categorise, genre-wise. It's definitely a mystery but it's also part gothic romance, part coming-of-age story. I think it would appeal to fans of Daphne du Maurier and Kate Morton, and anyone who loves stories about dark family secrets set in spooky old houses. And if you do enjoy this one, Eve Chase's second book, The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde (USA: The Wildling Sisters) is also excellent! Recommended - but I think you guessed that already!