Jennifer Hufford's Reviews > Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling: A Novel

Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling by Michael Boccacino
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Apr 25, 12

Read in April, 2012

The author describes the novel on his web site with the comment, "Think of it as 2 cups Jane Eyre, 6 oz of Lovecraft, and a tbsp of Tim Burton", which I think is a perfect description. Also throw a bit of The Turn of the Screw and the movie, The Others, into the mix. Charlotte Markham has been a governess to James and Peter Darrow at the Everton estate for the past nine months when their Nanny Prum is violently and mysteriously murdered in the forest one night. Charlotte takes over as nanny to the boys. The widowed Mr. Darrow keeps to himself, but over late night talks in his study, he and Charlotte form a bond that promises to be more than friendship someday. Mr. Darrow lost his wife, Lily, the previous year, as did Charlotte her husband Jonathan. One day Charlotte takes the boys on a walk through the forest when they encounter a misty orchard with strange fruits. On the other side of the orchard they’re met by Lily Darrow and the enchanted House of Darkling, both of which exist in the place for the Things That Cannot Die. The master of the House of Darkling, Mr. Whatley, is an ominous figure. Charlotte and the boys return several times to Darkling to visit Lily, who asks that they keep her presence a secret from Mr. Darrow, but over time it becomes clear that Mr. Whatley has marked Charlotte to take part in a dangerous, mystifying game with dire consequences for the loser. At stake – the Darrow family, Charlotte herself, the nearby town of Blackfield (where Charlotte’s friend Susannah has had nightmarish encounters with a shadowy figure)… and possibly the world itself. I can’t say more without giving away too much, and the delight of this book is the unexpected twists and the author’s surprisingly vivid imagination. The images are vivid, unforgettable, gruesome in many cases… I could see Tim Burton having a lot of fun with this. I rarely read fantasy novels but I took a chance on this one and I’m very happy I did. I look forward to Boccacino’s next book.
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