The Mist in the Mirror by Susan Hill
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
So, this was a good read, it kept the tension going and I wanted to finish it. The only problem for me was the ending.
Susan Hill has a gothic ghost story, a modern version of M R James, in my opinion. Her main character in this story is James Monmouth, a man who, at 40, has returned to England after spending most of his life abroad, including most of his childhood. He has no memory of his time in England before he was 5, and therein lies a mystery that leads to a ghost boy and nightmares for Monmouth as his memory tries to emerge. This is a really great premise, if a teensie bit slow at the beginning for me.
I liked James, he's direct, self-possessed and a gentleman. I wanted to discover his story at his side. His discoveries lead to more questions and Susan Hill gradually builds the tension, leading to what feels like an inevitable confrontation between past and present. I was really looking forward to finding out the truth as we headed towards the climax of the story.
And that was the problem - loads of build up, and then when we hit the final confrontation it was wham, bam, done in a few pages. Frankly, I felt cheated, especially when Susan Hill mops up the whole aftermath in a few tell-not-show pages as well. We didn't even get a clear explanation of James and his connection to Conrad Vane, an important background character. I know in real life that sometimes a partial answer is all that is available, but not in fiction, not when so much effort has been put into wanting the reader search for answers with James.
So, after an enjoyable read, which scares with skill, this book left me disappointed by a lack of pay off :(
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