Holly Hill Mangin contacted me a few weeks ago to share her book with me. First written in English (you can find it here), it has then been translated into French as it is the author’s second language. She asked me to read the French version, which is what I did. As surprising as it may seem, reading in my mother language is not that easy for me as I got used from a very young age to reading mainly in English. However, I have really enjoyed that book and today, I would like to share with you some of my thoughts about it.
The setting: people in a closed space
I need to say that it is one of my favorite ways to write a book. You take a room or a house, 4-5 characters, a problem, and then you let it all unfold almost naturally. Jane Austen once wrote something in the style of “I want to write stories about a calm countryside and one or two families living their everyday life” (well, that is definitely not the exact quote, but you got the point). I think it is what the author managed to do here, creating a sense of suspense that would not have been possible anywhere else that in that house.
The enclosed space necessarily creates an ambiance, but not only. When you first open the book, you realize that the character herself does not know where she is or what she does there: such a way to get into a book, right? You also have that feeling that she might not be totally mentally stable and that thus, this narrator might not be the most reliable in the world. Thus, the atmosphere is created.
You can add an old house circled by a lake to it, a few very strange characters, a ghost and a plot you can’t quite figure out, and the you have the perfect recipe for a a great atmospheric book.
An interesting plot
The plot itself is written in such a way that it reminds you of mystery novels, the murderous (sometimes gore) parts of it being taken away: I really enjoyed that balance. As I previously said, you start the book in such a weird setting, not knowing where you (aka the character) are. Then, you follow the journey going from one plot twist to the other, without it becoming artificial (which, I think, is always a risk with novels full of plot twists). If you are a plot-oriented person, definitely check that out!
Usually, readers are either plot-oriented or character-oriented. Obviously, I am a bit of both and the author managed to create both an awesome plot and great characters. However, what I loved the most must be the atmosphere, as I am an atmosphere-oriented reader. I deeply enjoyed how the author managed to convey an atmosphere without necessarily entering long and tedious descriptions: the atmosphere was just there, naturally. That is 100% a book I would recommend to my fellow atmospheric readers.