Ann Rawson’s debut novel is the perfect blend of murder mystery, family feud and Roman history.
The Plot in a Nutshell
History buff Alice Hunter is trying to get her life back together after a brief stay in a mental health facility. Following the death of her beloved grandmother, she was committed after a fire she can’t remember starting.
Tragedy strikes when Harry, the kindly old man who is in charge of her Grandmother’s estate (left entirely to Alice) is found dead. The police zone in on Alice and she, along with an eclectic group of friends and supporters, has to prove her innocence.
On top of all this, there’s something weird going on. Is it just Alice’s imagination or is the magic that her grandmother was involved in still around “The Witch House”? And who is Alice’s mysterious stalker? And what about her grandmother’s Roman silver, where did she get it?
The Witch House jumps from question to question until you’re not sure what the answers to any of them are, building up to a big reveal and a climatic finish.
Firstly, it’s so important for a book written in first person to have an engaging and interesting main character and Alice is exactly that. Alice is complex and flawed, you even find yourself questioning if you should believe her, but ultimately you’re on her side throughout and you become one of the people fighting for her innocence.
As well as Alice there are so many other characters to love (and hate.) Alice’s mother is controlling and manipulative, her role in the book is certainly as a villain, but it’s deeper than that, after all, she’s still Alice’s mother. Alice also has a friend, Kelly, who she met when she was receiving treatment at a facility. Kelly is an interesting character because she represents someone who is both loyal and slightly unstable, loveable and a liability. I also liked DC Collingwood, the young and attractive detective who seemed to genuinely want to solve the case.
Personally, I loved the historical elements the most (being a history nerd), it took the book from a mysterious thriller to a multi-layered fiction about roman history, witchcraft and a family feud. It was also really well researched – I work in a library that deals with hallmarks every day and Rawson nailed the chat about hallmarks on the silver!
I’m not going to ruin the ending here, but I will say that I liked that not every single question was answered and even at the climax there were still surprises that I didn’t expect.
Lovers of mysteries, history and family drama will love this read by Rawson, I hate this phrase but it genuinely is a real “page tuner”.
Thank you Red Dog Press for the ARC!