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The Shivering Sands

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  4,996 ratings  ·  204 reviews
The new novel by the modern mistress of romantic suspense is set on the coast of Kent, at a great estate overlooking the infamous "shivering sands" - quicksands that have swallowed entire ships unfortunate enough to sail into them. Caroline Verlaine, a young widow, comes to work at the estate hoping to discover the cause of the mysterious disappearance of her sister, who h ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published 1971 by Fontana (first published 1969)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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 ·  4,996 ratings  ·  204 reviews

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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
An old-fashioned, Gothic style mystery/suspense novel by the prolific Victoria Holt, written in 1969, and set in what appears to be the late Victorian era in England (there are trains but no automobiles; girls put their hair up at age 17). Caroline Verlaine, a young widow and very talented pianist who had let her own career lapse in favor of supporting her husband's, takes a job at the mysterious Stacy mansion on the Kent coast in order to quietly investigate the disappearance of her older siste ...more
Sep 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
One of Holt's best, The Shivering Sands is a romance, a mystery and a darn good read. Caroline, heartbroken over the death of her spouse, a brilliant pianist, and running out of money takes a job at the estate nearby where her only sister has gone missing. Caroline's sister is an archaeologist and was studying the ancient Roman ruins near the Stacy estate, where she seems to have vanished into thin air. Roma, Caroline's sister, was a practical, strong woman, not given to running away from her du ...more
Nenia ✨️ Socially Awkward Trash Panda ✨️ Campbell

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🦇 Read for the Unapologetic Romance Readers Halloween 2018 Reading Challenge for the category of: A romance written by an author who is dead 🦇

As if I needed an excuse to read more gothic romances... well, I do, which is why I'm taking part in a Halloween Reading Challenge designed to celebrate all things paranormal, dark, and spooky in my favorite genre - romance.

Victoria Holt, who died in 1993, was one of the obvious go-to choices f
"There was no sign of her. It was as though she had just walked out into nowhere."

The quick run down on the plot: heroine Caroline comes to the Dover Coast in search of her sister who vanished without a trace (sister was an archaeologist working on local digs). Caroline studied music, and she comes to the Napier household in the guise of a piano tutor for the young ladies in residence at the manor. In true Victoria Holt fashion, it doesn't take long for things to go bump in the night (is there a
What a tangled web she weaves! And what fun for the reader to untangle slowly along with Caroline.

This hits all the right buttons for me. We have intriguing conversations, mysterious goings-on but not too dark as to be depressing, a variety of strange characters, tons of atmosphere, strong female protagonist with a passion (music). This actually keeps reminding me of Rebecca but I like this much better. I was not bored for a minute with this and it is not as dreary. I love that so much happens
***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List ***

In many ways, this is a very dated Gothic romance—after all, it was first published in 1969. I’m pretty sure that I read it as a teenager, but it must not have been part of my personal collection, because this reading felt like I was enjoying it for the first time. There are enough differences from Holt’s usual romance formula to make it feel a bit fresher plot-wise too.

A young widow, Caroline Verlaine, takes a position as music teacher at an estate clos
Jun 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Gothic Suspense lovers, it's just too good to miss
Recommended to Tweety by: Dorcas
Oh. My. Another shiveringly good book, of which I've no idea what to say. What can one say when a book is so good?

Caroline Brandon was the black sheep of her family. She had dared to turn her nose up at archaeologists and therefore, her parents as well as her older sister, Roma. Their one comfort was that their daughter was musical, amazingly so. Caroline gave her family up for music, only to give her music up, for Pietro.

Selfish, Passionate and Brilliant Pietro. Only to lose him, the only perso
Rebecca McNutt
Apr 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: romance, fiction, mystery
I usually stray away from the romance genre, but I love these old Gothic mysteries and this one is no exception. The Shivering Sands is eerie, suspenseful and subtly haunting in its plot and assortment of original characters.
Plenty of Gothic fun and suspense. I found it too implausible for full enjoyment, but once I deliberately suspended disbelief it was an easy and diverting read.

I have too literal a mind for some kinds of books and I tend to take a very dim view of abusive men with dark pasts. My inner Mr. Spock kept getting in the way, too, noting that there were rather too many crazy people wandering around Lovat Mill, that everyone seemed to be hiding an improbable number of secrets, and that quicksand does n
Victoria Holt really was the queen of the Gothic romance. Spent many enjoyable hours reading her novels over the years. They are a little dated now but you can never detract from a story well told. Many reviews already on offer but if Gothic romance with a well plotted mystery component is what you are looking for then this novel does deliver. Love the air of sinister foreboding and isolation. Also enjoyed that the "culprit" wasn't readily apparent. Enjoyed all the characters on offer here.

This whole book irked the life out of me. I get that Holt is writing Gothic romances, but she always seems to take the worst parts of Mr. Rochester (Jane Eyre) and Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights) and uses that to make the male heroes in these stories. I think Heathcliff was terrible by the way for anyone that is ready to jump at me in the comments. I think due to the last book and this one I am going to pass on Holt for a second even though most of her books are available to borrow at my library ...more
An entertaining gothic just as I remembered.

I have been revisiting the gothics of my mother and my teen years. I am certain I would have rated this very highly when I was younger. I've picked this up at this time as part of a buddy read. Atmospheric and intriguing it was more predictable than my younger self would have thought. But still a good experience and I do recommend it. I've got a few more Holts around I look forward to sinking into.
Nandakishore Varma
Oct 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
This was a chance read - a copy was lying about my ancestral house (the place which collects books, as I remarked once) and being stuck without anything to read, I sank my teeth into this one. And it was a very satisfying experience. I remember very less of it: only the first person narrator (a young widow caught between conflicting feelings for two men) and the method of murder, which was blood-curdlingly satisfying.
Although I do well realise that many readers seem to consider Victoria Holt’s 1969 The Shivering Sands a classic of Gothic romance and mystery, personally, I have found Holt’s presented narrative so predictable and so massively formulaic that not only am I ecstatic to finally be done with The Shivering Sands, I also kept falling asleep whilst reading and had to constantly force myself to continue with my perusal (because well, there is nothing really within the pages of The Shivering Sands that ...more
Dec 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
I read this book in high school/college and loved it. I vividly remember the day I finished reading it because I was alone in the house and ran out in the summer sunshine to be with my mother and sister because the ending was so creepy to me. I have NEVER forgotten it or the way it made me feel.
Dec 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This was my first victoria holt novel and i was 15 years then. The cover of the book had a haunting looking girl with waves of water around her.It was this cover that made me read i was still young and new to the world of books and this was a author and Genre unknown to me.I was in for a treat. It was the most suspenseful book ever and many years later after having read countless holt books i can safely say that this is her best work.
Regan Walker
Nov 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 and 1/2 Stars - A love story wrapped in a mystery!

Set in the late Victorian era, this is the story of Caroline Verlaine, a young widow, who has lost her archeologist parents and her brilliant pianist husband to untimely deaths, and now her sister Roma has disappeared. Determined to find Roma, who went missing while on a dig in Dover, England, Caroline, who is a pianist herself, takes a job in the area—as a resident piano teacher to Sir William Stacy’s three young charges. One of the girls is t
Greg Bascom
May 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Carolina Verlaine suffered tragedies. Her parents, both archeologists, died in a train crash in route to a dig. She forfeited a promising career as a pianist in deference to her husband Pietro who was more talented, but he dies, leaving Carolina a widow at age 28. Then Carolina’s only sister, Roma Brandon, also an archeologist, disappears just as her team finishes excavating Roman ruins at the Lovat Stacy estate in eastern England. Carolina’s former piano teacher who is teaching four young women ...more
Emily Crow
I'm counting this as my Gothic romance for the Unapologetic Romance Readers challenge, although I will probably read many more Gothics before the year is done. For some reason, this genre is my literary comfort food, probably because the genre was so popular when I was growing up, and the image from so many Gothic covers, of a young woman in a flowing white dress running through the darkness, with a ruined castle or mansion in the background, is emblazoned deep within my psyche. But the genre do ...more
Lizzi Crystal
Feb 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stevie Carroll
Nov 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Previously reviewed on The Good, The Bad, & The Unread:

I’m absolutely loving the various authors and titles that Sourcebooks are resurrecting from the recent past. Victoria Holt is another of those that I’d vaguely heard of, but had never got around to reading before, and now I want to investigate more of her back catalogue. The Shivering Sands is a great introduction to her work, and had me figuratively on the edge of my seat at various points.

Written in 1969, and set in the latter part of the
Jun 19, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, kindle-book
I used to love Victoria Holt's books back in the day, but rereading this one, I can't remember why. I had a hard time getting involved in the storyline or caught up in the romance, and I didn't find the mystery particularly suspenseful. It didn't help that I thought the heroine was rather dim for not figuring out what her pupils were up to (it seemed pretty obvious), and I found the hero too one-dimensional to be interesting, or maybe he just wasn't around enough to become a compelling character ...more
Sep 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
More reviews available at my blog, Beauty and the Bookworm.

A Gothic romance was my last category to read for my 2017 romance challenge with the Unapologetic Romance Readers group. I'd had The Shivering Sands picked out for quite a while, and saved it for the end of the challenge so I'd at least have one good category to look forward to after drudging through a bunch that I really didn't like. Someone once told me that Victoria Holt was the queen of Gothic romances, and so it seemed like a good c
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In my early teens I devoured romantic suspense books by Mary Stewart, Phyllis Whitney and, of course, Victoria Holt. Several Victoria Holt gothics have now been released in e-format. I grabbed this one up as a daily deal and had lots of fun reading it. Published originally in 1969, it follows Holt's tried-and-true formula and has some interesting moments even though it's not her best work.

The heroine here is a recently-widowed Caroline Verlaine, whose late husband was a virtuoso pianist. Carolin
May 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
I wonder how so many readers have given this book high ratings saying it was spooky, eerie and one of Holt’s best. I totally disagree with them. In fact, I purchased the book because of these good ratings.
‘The India Fan’ was way better and much more engrossing than this book.

Some observations:
a) The mystery takes a backseat when Caroline goes to stay at Lovat Stacy, just because she does not want people to know her relation with Roma. She hardly does any investigation.
b) Were the police not inv
Aug 02, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The beginning of the book was more interesting than the last half because of the little bit of character development in the first half and also the setting was described well. Had a hard time figuring out when this was set - late 19th century? Very early 20th maybe?

I liked the heroine but the hero had me scratching my head. We're supposed to like this person? And the conversations between the two were just...weird.

The supporting characters were interesting but I kept getting all the girls mixed
May 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
I read several Victoria holt books as a kid. This was my favorite.
May 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
3,5. The ending was unexpected.
Andrea Montan
Mar 24, 2020 rated it liked it
All that and not one damn kiss. Not. One.
Jul 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
Perhaps my first foray into gothic-romance-mystery, it was helpful to consult google images, dictionary, and articles to visualize the landscape, architecture, and other elements the author used to depict place, period, and cultural references.

This is a first person account of a woman attempting to unravel the mystery of her sister's disappearance, becoming caught up in the tangle of misunderstandings and accusations, and failing to trust her own instincts.

The story holds many fascinating compo
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Shivering Sands by Victoria Holt 5 56 Dec 02, 2014 08:50AM  

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