My first review for the Official 2015 TBR Pile Challenge is THE DARK BETWEEN by Sonia Gensler.
The goal of this challenge is “to finally read 12 books from your ‘to be read’ pile within twelve months”. To qualify for the challenge, books must be read and reviewed before the year is over, and all selections must have publishing dates from the year 2013 or older. (Here are the books I’ll be reading this year.)
This one was written by a dear writer friend from my home state, and I’ve been dying to read it. That’s probably why I moved it to the top of my TBR Challenge stack. I’m so glad I did.
On with the review!
THE DARK BETWEEN written by Sonia Gensler
Published by: Knopf
Release Date: August, 2013
Genres: YA, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal
At the turn of the twentieth century, Spiritualism and séances are all the rage—even in the scholarly town of Cambridge, England. While mediums dupe the grief-stricken, a group of local fringe scientists seeks to bridge the gap to the spirit world by investigating the dark corners of the human mind.
Each running from a shadowed past, Kate, Asher, and Elsie take refuge within the walls of Summerfield College. But their peace is soon shattered by the discovery of a dead body nearby. Is this the work of a flesh-and-blood villain, or is something otherworldly at play? This unlikely trio must illuminate what the scientists have not, and open a window to secrets taken to the grave—or risk joining the spirit world themselves.
I became totally immersed in Sonia’s fictionalized Cambridge and her world of the paranormal. I adored her trio of main characters – Kate Poole the street-wise orphan surviving by her wits and not much else, Asher Beale the pragmatic American who crossed an ocean to escape his father’s influence, and Elsie Atherton, the cloistered invalid with the mysterious secret – all so well-rounded and distinct. The chemistry (and friction) between them was wonderful. I loved them!
What I loved just as much was the mystery part of the story. I am a sucker for a great whodunit and this one kept me on my toes, trying to figure out who or what was causing the brutal deaths. No spoilers, here. You’ll have to read the book to find out, but here’s a little taste.
Here’s an excerpt:
“Mr. Beale, isn’t it? Jones tells me you’ve come from America. Would you set your bag down and stand by the door, please? And you, Miss Poole – you must stand next to him.”
Kate’s face broke into a wide grin, and Asher felt his own mouth curving in response to her obvious delight. He doubted she’d ever had her photograph taken before. His heart softened toward her…just a bit.
Miss Atherton proceeded to open her portable camera and pull it wider, elongating it like a bellows and snapping it into place. She then held the camera at her waist, pointing the lens at them.
“Hold still,” she said, her chin down as she looked through a square hole at the top of the camera. “Look straight ahead. And do try to smile. I can’t abide a photograph full of grim faces.”
Despite Miss Atherton’s suggestion, Kate stood rigid next to him, nerves turning her smile to a grimace. Asher faced the camera, trying to smile more casually, but before he’d arranged his features the shutter clicked. With a sigh of satisfaction, Miss Atherton folded the lens back into the box once more.
“Now let’s take a peek inside the building.” She rattled the doorknob for a moment before turning away with a pout. “It’s locked. I wonder what they keep in there – all the treasures of the college?”
“Probably just a storage shed,” Asher said. “Maybe they’ve locked the tools away lest the young ladies stumble upon them and hurt themselves.”
Kate glared. “You must think young ladies have mashed peas for brains.”
He opened his mouth, but a cutting retort would not come. The girl wouldn’t have acknowledged it anyway, for she had shifted her gaze and was staring intently at Miss Atherton.
Asher turned to find the young lady in distress, her eyes closing tightly as she leaned against the door to steady herself. The camera tumbled from her hand and landed in the grass.
“No,” Miss Atherton moaned. “Not now, not now!”
Isn’t that great?
This small scene shows so much of their differing characters (and hints at other-wordly stuff to come).Trust me, this is just the warm-up. It’s such a fantastically spooky book. And a magnificent read. I guarantee it will not disappoint!
Learn more about Sonia Gensler here.
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