by Helen Moorhouse
In 1860s London Samuel Temple is beginning to make a name for himself as a memorial photographer aided by the ambiguous Mrs Watson who seems strangely able to provide Samuel with the deceased oddities he so craves. In present-day Dublin, Louise Lacey, anxious, fretful and alone, treats herself to an antique camera to signal a fresh start to her life. Little does she know that bringing the camera into her house will trigger its secrets and subjects to be unleashed in terrifying ways and lead her to encounter the ghastly owner of the antique shop from whence it came.
This book unfolds the story, past and present, by alternating between the 1860s and 2018. Personally, I found the chapters set in Victorian times the stronger. The growing sense of deep unease was really well-managed and Moorhouse captures that Gothic Horror element present between Temple and Mrs Watson perfectly. The stiflingly oppressive Victorian atmosphere was wonderfully conjured and I found these chapters absorbing and left me wanting to read more.
I was not so keen on the chapters set in 2018. They started well, and nicely complemented the Victorian sections; the suspense was building and I thought the inclusion of the sound-proofed room in Louise’s house was a useful touch. Yet, I believe they needed more depth, they were quite one-dimensional and Louise became frustrating at times. The friendship between her, Joe and Tash did not seem to reach full potential and I did think Tash was dispensable. I would have liked more focus on the relationship between Joe and Louise. It would have also been nice to have had further involvement from Ros; she was a promising character who was underused. I also thought Louise’s sprained ankle was an unnecessary and slightly cliched addition.
Apart the supernatural aspect provided by the camera and its history, the narrative veers off into crime territory which, although related to the camera, jarred a bit and the ending was a slight disappointment. Editing was good although I did spot a few errors in the present-day chapters.
Overall, however, I enjoyed the majority of this novel and would recommend.
Please note I received an advance review copy for free from Book Sirens and I am leaving this review voluntarily.