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by Barbara Wood

When her mother dies in 1857, Leyla's only links with her heritage and family are a letter and a name -- Pemberton. Resolved to seek out her past Leyla travels from London to the brooding mansion of Pemberton Hurst. Here she hopes to find the loving family she longs for, and to unlock the past. For she has no memory of the first five years of her life -- spent under that very roof.

However, the Pembertons seem strangely reluctant to discuss the past and the house feels smothered by the weight of untold secrets. Increasingly torn between the safety of life with her sophisticated fiance in London and a new, dangerous love, Leyla no longer knows whom to trust. Then terror strikes, and it seems a murderer roams the corridors of Pemberton Hurst...

Download Curse This House epub
ISBN: 0727822977
ISBN13: 978-0727822970
Category: Literature
Subcategory: Genre Fiction
Author: Barbara Wood
Language: English
Publisher: Severn House Publishers (September 1, 1999)
Pages: 304 pages
ePUB size: 1398 kb
FB2 size: 1186 kb
Rating: 4.4
Votes: 596
Other Formats: mbr lrf lit doc

While there is nothing stucturally wrong with this novel, those reading it because they are fans of Barbara Woods newer lengthy family sagas, "Virgins of Paradise", "Soul Flame", "Domina" and "Vital Signs", revolving around career-minded women, will be disappointed with this run-of-the-mill tale of gothic intrigue. This familiar author's voice simply is not present in this offering.

The plot, thoroughly early Victorian, features first-person narrator Leyla, a 20-something heroine who stumbles upon her family's curious legacy only after her mother's death and the receipt of a letter compelling her to the Pemberton family manor---a complex that she and her mother had fled after the tragic deaths of Leyla's father and young brother. Once at the Hurst where her reintroduction to family members fails to strike any fond family memories, Leyla struggles to discern the troubling secret that seems to encumber her relatives with a fatalistic penchant for disasterous accidents and solitary confinement. Here, Woods successfully reproduces a Poe-like atmosphere where the darkness of the mind rivals that of the devil, yet her renderings of this 19th century world border on the somber; Leyla's sensibilities are far from engaging, making her revelations and quests through Pemberton's dark corridors tedious and rather mundane. The story, again reminiscent of Poe, tries to horrify us with ideas of madness, hereditary illness and family curses---all of which are presented in a dry unsatisfactory manner that Poe could get away with, but Woods, alas, cannot. Only during the story's denouement, does the emerging personality of Wood shine through in the personage of the doctor and his rather convenient laboratory analysis of one family member's blood cells. Otherwise, "Curse This House", stands as a B-rated gothic thriller without the de riguer girl-with-flying-hair-standing-on-a-precipice cover art most of these books employ to lure their readers.

This book was recommended to me as a ghost story. It is certainly not that, and certainly recommended only to those who wish to read this author's earlier works. If you are looking for Gothic go for the gold and read the Bronte sisters, Du Maurier or Edgar Allen himself. If you want a contemporary ghost story try "Julian's House" by Judith Hawkes or Barbara Erskine's " House of Dreams."
Leyla Pemberton returns home to Pemberton Hurst after the death of her mother and a twenty year absence. She remembers little of the time she spent her first five years of life there, save for the fact that she was severely traumatised by witnessing the death of her father and brother and has no memory of the incident.
Her relatives are strangers to her, a grandmother who rules the house with an iron fist from her room, nervous Aunt Anna, sickly uncle Henry, eccentric cousin Martha, boorish cousin Colin and Theo, her eldest cousin who is the only one to welcome her.
What are they hiding?
Shocked by Leyla's return, the residents of Pemberton Hurst have no choice but to give up their secret. All the Pembertons are cursed...
Leyla doesn't believe it and sets out on her own investigation into her father and brother's deaths. Her enquiries are fraught with danger, because there is someone who doesn't want her to remember that fateful day, but who?
This is a well paced and plotted novel, a real page turner. The historical detail is very accurate, but without detracting from the story so that it reads like a novel rather than a history lesson. Leyla is a very likeable character, and I could almost see cousin Martha sitting everywhere, her knitting needles clicking away.
My one gripe would be the spelling. It is written in the first person, supposedly by Leyla, a young Victorian English lady, but her spelling was American. It distracted from the story when supposedly reading about an English girl going to "the center of the coppice." She would have spelled it "centre."
Despite the American spelling, (which is really just a personal opinion) it was a good read, something to curl up with on a rainy day and let the outside world disappear.
Reviewed by Annette Gisby, author of Silent Screams.
I liked this book a lot, read it very fast, I found the whole English Gothic feel very appealing, and the horror atmosphere, even thou when it isn't a horror novella per se, the characters development stalls at times, but the main character Leyla is well developed (clearly as the author's a woman), I enjoyed it through and through but was very disappointed by the ending, I always find it appalling when a good book ends in a couple of poorly written paragraphs is always a signal of an authors lack of talent/interest in wrapping a story. Just for that I wont be rating this book higher.
At the beginning is an interesting book, but in the middle of it it goes out of the story so many times that is a little boring, and at the end, when Colin talk to Leyla you will know everything he is going to say to her (because Leyla deducted before) and Leyla get impressed at the conversation.
Many things of the book are taken out of the hand (I can't write them right here because I will tell you the end of the story) so the story gets a good end.
On the other hand, the story is a good one because all the members of the family, except one, want her own good by keeping a secret that will hurt Leyla, at least is what they think.
I put three stars to the book because is not what I expected of Barbara, but I recommend to read it you will have a good time.