Well how about this for an adventure?
I started this thinking it would be a quick and boring read as I’ve never really been one to hold with Gothic heroines. But I was hugely surprised by how much I was sucked into this story. So much so that the last fifty pages or so just wouldn’t wait. I had to devour them late at night when I really ought to have been sleeping – worth it.
Not that there is anything particularly novel (pardon the pun) about this plot, the young foundling being sent to the big scary house on the moor is certainly a cliché. But the careful construction of our main character Annaleigh draws you into the world, you see it through her painfully naive eyes and you watch her learn that all is not sunshine and rainbows.
Tobin wields a world of secrets and shadows with finesse, while you know to hate the villain of the piece you still do not admonish Annaleigh for not behaving with a bit more gumption, as so often happens with novels of this sort. In fact the heroine of this piece was, I feel, about as far from a wet blanket as you can get.
If I were to have one tiny criticism, it would be that, while she tries, I do not think Tobin managed to capture the true essence of the Yorkshire moors. It felt a little as though I was being constantly told that the moors were a dark, dangerous and unpredictable place (Heathcliff! It’s me its Cathy…) but I never really had any proof beyond ‘it’s a bit dark and cold out here, also there’s some heather.’ But then again, I grew up on a Moor and it is my last name so maybe I’m expecting to find the awe of a five year old in these descriptions and shouldn’t really be surprised that I’m coming up short.
This is not a book that will cheer you up. Nor does it claim to be. But if you’re looking for that wonderful kind of catharsis that comes from reading something with such a true sense of bleakness and coming out the other side thinking ‘thank goodness that didn’t happen to me!’