Carfax Abbey Publishing (2018)
Reviewed by Anna Riley for Reader Views (5/18)
“Wildfell” by London Clarke is a gripping gothic suspense novel that will keep readers hooked to the end!
The story begins with a sporadic overwhelmed Anne Fleming, who is contemplating staying or running from her ex-professor/boyfriend’s trial. She seems to be a key witness since she too faced the wrath of the professor’s sultry web of deceit and seduction. Anne doesn’t know if she can handle seeing him again after the sordid affair. Other women have come forward, and she was summoned to testify against him. She thought they had something special, she thought there was more to them…was there? Was it a lie? Did he attack her as he did the others? It was all too much for Anne! So, she packs very little clothing, and her savings, dumps all her belongings and flees to London. She is after all an English Lit major….
While on the plane to London Anne has a meeting to be one of fate, and possible damnation? The friendly enough smoldering twenty something Irishman named Bain, who is clearly running from something as well invites a clearly smitten Anne to try and rent a room at the very old mansion called Wildfell. It is owned by an eccentric older woman by the name of Mrs. Gates and her daughter who is a mute named Alice. Mrs. Gates, as luck would have it, has a room for Anne to rent. Anne encounters other occupants of this mysterious and eerie mansion. Anne is settling in, and steaming things up with the “lady killer” Bain even though her mother’s voice screams “no” in her head (a woman who is a man hater as well as a man eater).
Tenants start to disappear. Did they leave all their things in a hurry like Mrs. Gates suggest? After all, didn’t Anne herself do just the very same thing? Anne learns from the gardener Nigel that tenants don’t seem to make it longer than a few months there, and the house has a long history of this. Also, there has been some belief that the house has to be fed. Is this the reason people go missing? When whispers in the night, and Shadows start to plague the mansion, is it their imagination? What about the mysterious notes she received under her door that says, “The house chooses who dies.” Anne did after all wish when she first arrived at “Wildfell” That she hoped to see a ghost, but this may be just more than Anne bargained for!
“No one can be happy in eternal solitude.” ― Anne Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I think this pertains to Anne Fleming in the beginning of the book more so than Anne at the end. When the story begins Anne is unsure of herself, and anxious. She is an introvert. By the end of the book she has found herself, as well as another part of her she never thought she would. I loved the way London Clarke laid out the story with different elements and stories going on all at the same time. The way she answered every question and tied them up in a nice bow at the end was wonderful! I can’t say how many times I have finished a book with so many unanswered questions. I can relate to this book, and I would recommend for all ages - teens, and young adults, as it relates to being young and growing into oneself. It also relates to all of us being an unsure twenty-year-old, and who hasn’t been duped by a man at least once in our life! I think it’s the entrance into womanhood.
I fully enjoyed “Wildfell” and hope to read more from London Clarke!