The Mist in the Mirror by Susan Hill

mistI do love reading wintry ghost stories in warm weather. The escapism is stronger and I am drawn further away.

Unfortunately this book and I did not get on. This is a shame because it seems like the kind of book I would love.
The story starts in a pastiche of a Victorian novel with a first account by a rather Labrador like young man hanging with his pals at his club. I was anticipating the inevitable awful things that would befall him until he started talking to a sombre lawyer seated in the corner who is the actual main character. He was suitably haunted and melancholy and gave a manuscript to the young man which opens the actual story.

Sir James Monmouth returns to England after a life of travel to research the life of his hero; the explorer Conrad Vale. Only every time he tries to research or interview someone they will turn to him and say something along the lines of TURN BACK, do not look any further, save yourself.. It happens three times in a row one after the other juxtaposed with a ghostly little boy haunting James wherever he turns. I just couldn’t take it seriously. Especially when the third warning comes from a strange woman on a train ~who sees dreadful things ~

“Go back,”

I spun round. She has spoken in a low but quite firm clean tone. “I beg your pardon?”

Her eyes were very blue and slightly widened, and they stared not so much as into me, and yet there was a strange, distant expression in them, as though she were seeing not me but something beyond.

The plot began to speed up over half of the way through and then ended rather anti-climatically and leaving me with too many unanswered questions. I still didn’t really know who Conrad Vale was or why so many people feared him or who the protagonists Guardian was. I had completely forgotten about the title of the book until a few spooky mirrors were shoe horned in.

I was waiting to be terrified as was promised on the front cover but the book left me frustrated and feeling I had wasted my time.

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