The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue – Ambassador Book Buzz.

About The Book

Power. Jealousy. Desire.

Twenty-five years ago, a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl and her charismatic teacher disappeared without trace…
When Louisa arrives at Temple House, an elite catholic boarding school, she quickly finds herself drawn to sophisticated fellow pupil Victoria and their young bohemian art teacher, Mr Lavelle. The three of them from a bond that seems to offer an escape from the repressive regime of the nuns who run the cloistered school. Until Louisa and Mr Lavelle suddenly disappear without trace.

Years later, a journalist with a childhood connection to Louisa determines to resolve the mystery. Her search for the truth will uncover a tragic, mercurial tale of suppressed desire and long-buried secrets. It will shatter lives and lay a lost soul to rest.

The Temple House Vanishing is a stunning, intensely atmospheric novel of unrequited longing, dark obsession and unintended consequences.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher and Love Reading for the copy received. The Temple House Vanishing was an intriguing dual time frame novel that focused on the disappearance of a school girl and her teacher. It is narrated by Laura, the girl concerned, where you learn about her life up to her disappearance and the journalist who is writing about the circumstances twenty five years later and has the unfortunate task of interviewing the ones who knew her. Neither her friend Victoria or prefect Helen are likeable. Helen in particular made me angry every time she appeared.

I had expected the nuns who ran the school to feature more but they were very much in the background, oblivious to the students, the way they were bullied by the prefects and also the effect that the young good looking male teacher had on their pupils.

It was unusual reading Louisa’a story and not knowing what happened to her. Usually you are given clues but nothing was revealed until the end and it was far from straightforward. I had a lot of sympathy for her, she was completely out of her depth when coping with her feelings and the treatment she received at the hands of the prefects, in particular Helen.

Spooky, threatening and with a sense of loneliness this was a great debut by Rachel Donohue.

The Ghost Tree by Barbara Erskine – Review – Ambassador Book Buzz.

About The Book

The past is about to become the present… 

Ruth has returned to Edinburgh after many years of exile. Left rootless by the death of her estranged father, she is faced with the daunting task of sorting through his possessions. Amidst the dust of her old life, Ruth discovers a hidden diary from the eighteenth century, written by her ancestor, Thomas Erskine. As she sifts through the ancient pages of the past, Ruth is pulled into a story that she can’t escape.

As the youngest son of a noble family Thomas’ life started in genteel poverty, but his extraordinary experiences propel him from the high seas to Lord Chancellor. Yet, on his journey through life, he makes a powerful enemy who hounds him to the death – and beyond.
Ruth has opened a door to the past that she can’t close, and meets a ghost in her family tree who wasn’t invited. She will have to draw upon new friends and old in what will become a battle for her very survival…

The inspiration for The Ghost Tree lies in Barbara Erskine’s own personal history – branching back to the days of Thomas Erskine, her great grandfather, five times removed. Once again, the Sunday Times bestselling author brings the past to life in vivid, spellbinding colour.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received via LoveReading. It is many years since I read a novel by Barbara Erskine. I always enjoyed the ones I had read, so was looking forward to reading this new one, especially when I realised that one of the themes concerned genealogy. The author has done a brilliant job of combining her own family tree, a haunting and modern day fraud into a fictional work. I spent a lot of time looking at the handwritten family tree at the beginning of the novel.

The modern day story concerns Ruth, who is trying to protect her inheritance whilst reading and researching her family’s past, Timothy and April the siblings who are determined to get their hands on her property and Thomas the man who Ruth is descended from. And present throughout is Andrew Farquhar, the man who is determined to get revenge. Everybody has underestimated how far he is prepared to go in his resolve to make Thomas pay. His character was probably the strongest one. You can’t beat a malevolent spirit!

Some of Thomas’s story is revealed through Ruth reading his journals. I have to admit that I preferred him when he was younger. His time in the navy and when he first met his wife Fanny showed his better side. As he got older and more powerful I had a lot less empathy for him. Even though I did realise that he was being controlled by some. One of the more chilling parts of the novel concerned him witnessing a public hanging. Whilst I have read similar the account of how the crowd took a lot of delight in the act was horrifying.

I liked Ruth. She was loyal to Thomas, not interested in making money from his journals, just wanting to know more about what happened to him and his immediate family. But the modern day story I preferred was the one that concerned April and Timothy and the way that their whole life changed because of greed and dishonesty.

I would like to thank Charlotte Walker for asking me to be part of LoveReading’s Ambassador Book Buzz.