Monday, March 30, 2009

Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn

Sigh. I absolutely loved Silent on the Moor. I think I savored it all the more knowing it will be the last book for awhile in this wonderful Victorian mystery series. Deanna Raybourn is finishing a standalone novel before returning to Lady Julia's adventures. She tied up so many loose ends in Silent on the Moor, it would make a fitting conclusion to a trilogy should she so choose. In particular, the question of whether Julia and Nicholas Brisbane will finally be together - overcoming his secretiveness, her impetuosity and their stubborness - is at last resolved. Don't get me wrong, however. I very much want Raybourn to write more about this fascinating duo!

Determined once and for all to discover Brisbane's intentions toward her, Julia follows him to the Yorkshire moors, where he has recently acquired a crumbling manor house. The former owners of Grimsgrave, the Allenbys, are a fiercely proud family claiming descent from Saxon kings. However, Lady Allenby and her two daughters, Ailith and Hilda, are now virtually peniless. Redwall Allenby, the last male heir, squandered the family's fortune on his collection of Egyptian antiquities before his untimely death.

The visitors - Julia, her sister Portia and brother Valerius - live uneasily alongside the unhappy Allenbys and a brooding Brisbane. When she decides to catalog the pieces in Redwall's collection, Julia discovers the Allenbys have plenty of skeletons (and mummies) stacked in their closets. What's more, Brisbane's fate seems mysteriously entwined with that of the Allenbys. Julia is convinced Brisbane loves her, but he continues to push her away for unfathomable reasons. She cannot control her curiosity, of course, and as she unravels the tangled threads of the Allenbys' secrets, she comes closer and closer to discovering a horror deeper than anything she has faced before.

Silent on the Moor was the perfect book to read on a chilly afternoon with the wind howling outside, perhaps with a steaming cup of tea at hand. Raybourn knows how to keep me turning pages by revealing just enough information at the right times. She built an almost unbearable level of suspense throughout the novel; I could not read fast enough. I longed to discover at last the dark past tormenting Brisbane. I had to know if he and Julia would find happiness together or be consumed by the dark mysteries of Grimsgrave.

Raybourn has a wonderful gift for creating characters. Even minor characters (and even the pets) had their own fully realized personalities. Raybourn skillfully reveals the inner workings of each character through their actions, reactions and dialogue. The Allenbys were everything a reader could want a mysterious family in a Gothic thriller to be. None of them turned out to be what they seemed at first glance.

The novel's ending was quite satisfying, and if everything was resolved just a little too perfectly to be quite believable, I did not care. It was a delight to see things turn out so well for characters who certainly deserved it. When Raybourn returns to Julia and Brisbane's world, I will willingly follow wherever she leads, even to the ends of the earth in a white petticoat.

My grade: A+

1 comment:

Marg said...

I only skimmed your review because I have this book here to read soon, but I did want to comment on how mcuh I had enjoyed the first two books in the series, so I can't imagine this being any different.