Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Ardenwyke Unveiled by Kelly Ferjutz

Tessa deGroot, a sculptor, falls in love at the first sight of Ardenwycke, a great stone house along the Hudson River in New York. Part of a divorce settlement from her former husband's family, the house was built by an early deGroot settler more than two hundred years earlier, but still carries a reputation of being cursed. Tessa discovers this for herself on that first visit as she faints in one upstairs hallway.

Maximillian MacDougall, a local housing inspector, rescues Tessa that day, but more strange events happen almost immediately after she moves in. Together, Tessa and Max try to find the meaning behind the curious things that happen in the house, but it will surely take drastic measures — and love — to succeed.

Tessa arrives to view Ardenwycke with her friend, Annette, who seems a little off when Max the house inspector arrives on the scene. I think Annette had reservations about Tessa taking the house once they got there, or maybe she was jealous that someone else took Tessa’s attention? The house was a pay-off in her divorce settlement from her ex-husband’s family, and Tessa fell in love with it right away. Even better that it was a long way from Pieter deGroot, the ex-husband.

Tessa takes the house, mainly because she can sculpt in the tower there and lead the solitary life she wants. Even better that Max takes a shine to her and she him. They begin a relationship, one that could possibly have been sorely tested with the things happening in the house. They only happen to Tessa—she goes cold at a certain spot outside two rooms and then faints—so when she explains what she thinks is going on to Max, it isn’t surprising he finds it hard to believe. Still, he helps her get to the bottom of the chills and faints, as only a good hero would.

**plot spoiler alert**

Tessa discovers a hidden room sandwiched between two others. Inside is enough furniture to suit the needs of one person, and it becomes clear, through the finding of love letters, that a young woman was kept in the room alone. And locked in. All because she fell in love with someone her father deemed unsuitable.

I won’t reveal what happened in the past, but I will say the letters were a great find for this reader. I wish they had been longer, though. Reading someone else’s private correspondence isn’t something I would do in real life, so indulging in it while reading was a pleasure. It felt naughty—plus, I wanted to know why the house was haunted and what happened to Marike and Claes.

Tap, tap. Slam! (My stomach rolled here. I was reading this bit at night so got a wee bit spooked!)

“Seeing” the shadowy figure in the doorway. Now that put the heebie jeebies in me!

With an interesting plot and a tale of intrigue and sadness in the past, Ardenwyke Unveiled should satisfy any ghost enthusiast’s need as they walk with Tessa as she sets about discovering why her new home is haunted.

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