Tuesday, August 9, 2016

An Elegant Southern Mansion Houses the Secrets of a Tragic Love Affair

When Raissa James' Uncle Brett invites her to Caoin House, an elegant mansion near Mobile, Alabama, it seems like an opportunity to try to forget her grief over Alex's death. Her husband was killed in WWI. They hardly had a chance to get to know each other before he was gone. In a further effort to pull Raissa out of her life as a teacher in Savannah, Uncle Brett arranges a gala celebration that ends in tragedy.

As Raissa learns more about the house, she realizes it has been the scene of tragedy from it's inception. The ghost of the lovely Eva, first mistress of the house, was murdered there, and is said to roam the halls. Raissa herself sees a Confederate officer standing in the oak grove beneath her window, and there are more frightening encounters with the ghosts.

The story takes place shortly after WWI. The South still felt the bruises of the Civil War and in places like Mobile, segregation was a fact of life. The author shows this problem well and Raissa and her uncle are good protagonists because neither believes in excluding blacks from the society, but they too have to live by the rules of the area. This is shown plainly when the Klu Klux Klan is involved in a lynching.

The characters are well done. Raissa is the typical modern woman in the wake of WWI. She wants more freedom to pursue a career. She hates it when she is relegated to second class by the men around her. The pace is good. The author cleverly releases bits of the old tragedy in doses that keep you reading to find out what happened. My only quarrel with the writing is that the dialog is sometimes stiff and can veer into an information dump when the characters are trying to explain paranormal phenomena.

If you like a good ghost story, I can recommend this one. It's best not to read it late at night.

I received this book from Net Galley for this review.