Author: Wendy Webb
Published: June 2017, Lake Union Publishing
Format: Paperback, 336 pages
Haunting and atmospheric, The End of Temperance Dare is another thrilling page-turner from the author reviewers are calling the Queen of the Northern Gothic.
When Eleanor Harper becomes the director of a renowned artists’ retreat, she knows nothing of Cliffside Manor’s dark past as a tuberculosis sanatorium, a “waiting room for death.” After years of covering murder and violence as a crime reporter, Eleanor hopes that being around artists and writers in this new job will be a peaceful retreat for her as much as for them.
But from her first fog-filled moments on the manor’s grounds, Eleanor is seized by a sense of impending doom and realizes there’s more to the institution than its reputation of being a haven for creativity. After the arrival of the new fellows—including the intriguing, handsome photographer Richard Banks—she begins to suspect that her predecessor chose the group with a dangerous purpose in mind. As the chilling mysteries of Cliffside Manor unravel and the eerie sins of the past are exposed, Eleanor must fight to save the fellows—and herself—from sinister forces.
My thoughts: Wendy Webb is not a new author to me and I have to say, I might have done a little dance of joy when this book landed on my doorstep! I've read one other of Wendy's books - The Fate of Mercy Alban - and really liked that one, and have been meaning to read more of her books, but as usual, time and my ever-growing TBR pile have gotten in the way!
Right from the start this book pulled me in. I loved the setting - an old tuberculosis sanatorium turned into a retreat for artists and writers located in a remote area - talk about an atmospheric setting! And with something happening right away, you just get that sense of foreboding hanging over the book - and you know that's not the end of things.
The characters in this book are well-developed and complex, especially Eleanor. And I particularly loved getting to know more about the Dare sisters - talk about a messed up family! But when strange things start happening while Eleanor is in her new position as Director of the retreat, she begins to wonder if she and her guests are in danger. It is only after these strange things start happening that she begins to wonder if there is some connection to the past.
This was a really good book, at times a bit creepy and haunting, but not so much that I was afraid to keep going! The mystery was good and the twists and turns kept me glued to the pages. I particularly loved the way the past was woven into the storyline - how awful for those afflicted with TB during that time. But, what a great setting for a gothic novel now - and Wendy Webb surely used it to her advantage as this was really well-written. I can't wait to read more from this author...she really does know how to spin a tale!