Deadlight Hall by Sarah Rayne
Published by Severn House
26th June 2015
A long-ago crime continues to menace the present in this spine-chilling tale of supernatural suspense. When Michael Flint is asked by a colleague to investigate a reputedly haunted house, he is intrigued. Leo Rosendale's childhood was blighted by a macabre tragedy in the grim Deadlight Hall - a tragedy that occurred towards the end of World War II, involving a set of twins who vanished. The fate of Sophie and Susannah Reiss was never discovered, and Leo has never been able to forget them.
When Michael, together with his fiancee Nell, begins to explore Deadlight Hall's history, he discovers that in the 1880s another pair of sisters vanished from the house - and that there may also be much older and darker secrets lurking within its walls. As Michael and Nell gradually peel back the sinister layers of the Hall's unhappy past, they are unprepared for the eerie and threatening resonances they encounter - nor for the shocking truth of what took place there one long-ago midnight.
Sarah Rayne is back with another ghost-inspired novel featuring Nell West and Michael Flint. This time, we are reminded of the Holocaust, in a frightening tale of disappearing children and unpredictable furnaces. Our Oxford don Michael is asked if he wouldn't mind visiting Deadlight Hall, a former home that housed ill children during the Second World War by a colleague of his, Leo Rosendale. Leo was sent to England by his family to escape Nazi persecution, along with other Jewish children, including twins Sophie and Susannah Reiss. Whilst staying a Deadlight Hall the twins disappeared in mysterious circumstances, and Leo has never been able to forget them, or his time at the big house.
Always fond of a mystery, Michael decides to take a look around the Hall, now being developed by a local builder. Whilst there, he is sure he hears and sees things that are not of this world. He and Nell begin to delve into the past lives of those connected to Deadlight Hall, and as they investigate further, they find that the Reiss twins weren't the only children to disappear whilst staying there. So what secrets is the big, old house hiding, and are any of them actually prepared for what they may eventually find out?
Whilst this hasn't been my favourite of Sarah Rayne's novels, I did enjoy it. I like her characters of Michael and Nell, who are now in a relationship and considering moving in together, I also like the sub-story of Michael's cat, who I'm surprised hasn't been asked to leave Oxford yet! The Holocaust sub-setting wasn't one I was hooked by, or that of the missing golem, yet the book did keep me turning the pages in order to find out what really happened at Deadlight Hall all those years ago.