Stevie Carroll's Reviews > The Lost Ones: A captivating, haunting ghost story, perfect for winter reading!

The Lost Ones by Anita Frank
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really liked it
bookshelves: reviewed-elsewhere

Previously reviewed on The Good, The Bad, and The Unread:

I do enjoy a good gothic novel, with or without an actual supernatural element, and the horrors of the First World War lend themselves just as well to the genre as do any number of bleak moors and crumbling, isolated mansions in the 19th Century. This story is set in the latter years of the war, and its heroine has certainly experienced many of the horrors first-hand, as we will gradually learn. Sent home from her VAD posting in France after witnessing the death of the man she planned to marry, Stella Marcham is staying with her mother, who is becoming increasingly frustrated at Stella’s inability to let go of her grief for someone to whom she was never officially engaged. When she is invited to stay with her newly pregnant younger sister, who has recently announced her pregnancy, Stella assumed she is required merely to provide some company in a house full of older women – her brother-in-law is working in London while Stella’s sister stays at his country residence – but she soon finds her sister has much more pressing reasons for wanting her there.

Stella and her sister find themselves the victims of what seem at first to be a series of pranks: toy soldiers appear in their beds, and other items are mysteriously moved; however, they soon come to believe that the house is haunted by the younger half-brother of Stella’s brother-in-law. Their suspicions are confirmed by Stella’s young maid – brought with her from her mother’s house – who has inherited her father’s ability to see and communicate with the troubled dead. As Stella tries to investigate the boy’s death, she is thwarted repeatedly by her sister’s mother-in-law, by the older lady’s paid companion, and by the threatening, constant presence of the mansion’s mysterious housekeeper.

Stella uncovers a number of secrets the family would rather keep hidden, but her brother-in-law believes Stella’s fears to be entirely bound up in her grief – and her sister’s to be due to worries concerning her pregnancy – she has already lost one baby – and so he hires an investigator to disprove the presence of any supernatural influences within the house. Of course, the opposite soon happens and lives begin to be put in danger as Stella draws ever closer to the truth of what happened in the house nearly thirty years earlier.

I enjoyed this book. There were times when I got frustrated with one or other of the characters for failing to notice something that I thought was obvious, and there were also a few too many cliches surrounding the housekeeper’s motivations. On the other hand, I liked all the glimpses of both the different effects, both mental and physical, that the war had had on the characters, and the insights into a lifestyle that was slowly coming to an end for those who had reaped the benefits of their positions in society before the war broke out. I’d like to see what else this author comes up with.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
November 10, 2019 – Shelved
November 10, 2019 – Shelved as: reviewed-elsewhere
November 10, 2019 – Finished Reading

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