Charlotte Markham And The House Of Darkling by Michael Boccacino.

Charlotte’s a governess to two bereaved children and in ‘Charlotte Markham And The House Of Darkling’, she must come to terms with her attraction to her employer, the widower Henry Darrow.

Poor Charlotte has suffered her own losses and seems to live in a twilight world, dream-like world where she clutches at stolen moments with her employee. Behaviour that would be considered unseemly, as the past and present echo each other

A violent murder has shattered the resolute calm and, a glimpse of death himself, means Charlotte is moving down the path where dreams might meet reality. She meets someone considered to be dead who wants re-entry into the mortal world.

A combination of influences abound here with the acknowledged debt to Jonathan Strange, I can feel resonances of ‘Lark Rise To Candleford’ and ‘Nanny McPhee’ in this odd interpretation of an English village. The dreamy quality is abruptly spoiled by occasional glaring Americanisms and anachronisms that should have been edited for the British market.

It’s an enjoyable story and the House of Darkling is a place of wonders but, whilst there are a lot of good ideas, Charlotte is annoyingly compliant and wet and panders to the wishes of the dead too easily. A lively ending at least gives some momentum to the plot. I was left thinking there may yet be a series even as the title implies.

I plead for better editing and more careful consideration of markets. We all treasure our language and myths here in the UK and, whilst we don’t mind you adding to the myths, please respect the past.

Sue Davies

August 2012

(pub: Titan Books 320 page book. Price: £ 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78116-446-4)

check out websites: www.titanbooks.com

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