The Lost Ones by Anita Frank ★★★★★
Updated: Nov 3, 2019
Published: 31st October 2019 Publisher: Harper Collins
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Paperback, Audio Genre: Horror
Some houses are never at peace.
Reeling from the death of her fiancé, Stella Marcham welcomes the opportunity to stay with her pregnant sister, Madeleine, at her imposing country mansion, Greyswick – but she arrives to discover a house of unease and her sister gripped by fear and suspicion.
Before long, strange incidents begin to trouble Stella – sobbing in the night, little footsteps on the stairs – and as events escalate, she finds herself drawn to the tragic history of the house.
Aided by a wounded war veteran, Stella sets about uncovering Greyswick’s dark and terrible secrets – secrets the dead whisper from the other side…
This book is utterly spellbinding.. there is no other way to start my review!
The author has captivated a spooky tale woven in family tragedy, loss and redemption and laced every page with a compelling need to find out more..
Set in 1917 The story starts with Stella, a young nurse recently back from France and the war front. Stella is mourning the loss of her fiancé, a soldier named Gerald and is completely and utterly heartbroken.
No one understands her grief and soon her parents call in Dr Mayhew, concerned for her mental state and refusing to believe it is just a natural raw grief there daughter is going through.
It isn’t long before Stella is invited to stay with her sister Madeline at her family home for a while as she is newly pregnant and in a fragile state. Her husband is concerned and wants Stella to go and keep her company.
Gathering the only maid that is available, Stella takes with her Annie, the odd and mysterious maid.
Once Stella arrives at Greyswick she is surprised at the dull and foreboding demeanour of the building.
Once impressive, now oppressive, the house looms over the drive as they pull up but this is quickly dispelled when her sister comes running out.
Madeline, although looks sullen with bags under her eyes, immediately seems to perk up with her sisters presence.
Upon sitting down for dinner Stella meets Hectors mother, the lady of the house, widower, Lady Brightwell. She is a dour, self important woman who looks constantly annoyed and who Is flanked at all times by her friendly companion Miss Scott.
Madeline clearly shrinks in the presence of her mother in law which puzzles Stella greatly.
It isn't long before Stella learns of Lucien, Hectors step brother who died as a child falling down the nursery stairs, Stella ventures up to the nursery to look at his large portrait at the top of the stairs but Madeline refuses to join her, hurrying her away with excuses.
One morning Stella wakes up to find a wooden toy soldier in her bed, shrugging off her feeling of unease she assumes it is a nasty prank by one of the house maids, upon asking around she gets no where and no one admits to hiding the toy in her bed so she puts it in her draw to think no more of.
The next night Stella is woken to the chilling sound of a child crying, scared, she gets out of bed and makes her way to the noise, which is coming from the nursery..
On the landing she comes across a frightened Madeline, who admits has been hearing the childs cries for some time and that this was the cause of her restlessness. Making her way up to the nursery Stella sees Annie, her maid standing with her back to her, she asks what she is doing there and Annie says she heard the same noise but will give no more then that, Stella clearly sees that the girl is hiding something but she scurries off before she can press her further.
Annie has a gift. She can talk to those that have passed over. Annie can see and hear Lucien and eventually tells Stella that the boy did not die as an accident and that he can not rest until he has vindicated himself, this causes a trail of events that will haunt Stella and Madeline, they start to hear the crying every night, doors open by themselves and at one point, standing at the top of the nursery stairs, Stella feels tiny hands on her lower back and if it wasn't for Annie grabbing her she would have lost her grip and fallen.
Lady Brightwell does not appreciate the girls insinuating that the house is haunted and tells Stella she came here to make Madeline settle down, not to add to her fancies.
Hector is soon called back by his mother after hearing what the sisters have been saying and brings along with him Mr Sheers, under the guise as an old friend but it is soon apparent he is there to disprove there theories of ghosts as he studies paranormal theories and soon blames Annie for tricking them and putting suggestive ideas into there minds as most things are due to suggestion of the brain.
During a dicussion at dinner about the recent events The girls get cross and upon shouting Luciens name the lights all go out and they are all placed in darkness, Hector and Stella make there way to the cellar to repair the damaged wire with only a candle they are completely swarmed in darkness, when at the bottom of the cellars stairs all of a sudden the candles blow out and a metal rolling noise makes its way towards Hector it isn't until the lights all of a sudden come back on they realise it was Luciens toy hula hoop and Hector, standing frozen and pale tells Stella he felt a child run past him.
Stella takes it upon her self to prove to Mr Sheers that they are not fanciful women who believe a maids tricks and insists he stays to witness what they have heard and seen.
Hector, now believing Madeline and Stella tries to convince Mr Sheers of what he felt but every time he is met with an explanation of what it could of been.
Refusing to believe a word of what is going on, having a reasonable theory for everything he decides the only way to resolve the situation is by calling in the local vicar and holding an exorcism.
Stella, Madeline and Annie are dreading this as they are trying to figure out what it is Lucien is trying to tell them as not is clear the house is steeped in secrets and lies that need unpicking, but Hector insists on getting the vicar and the next day he is there walking up to the nursery with Madeline, Hector, Stella and Mr Sheers in tow..
Annie is on the landing, looking on in fear as the vicar starts his loud speech, nothing happens and he starts to feel its going well until suddenly the glass shatters in the picture frame above the fireplace and marbles start to fly around the room injuring the vicar in the neck.
Madeline screams as she suddenly feels tiny hands on her swollen belly, begging Hector to make it all stop, amongst the chaos Hector shouts, the vicar cease's his holy words and everything pauses.
The spiritual, invisible hands leave Madeleine's pregnant belly and everyone leaves and heads back downstairs, extremely shaken.
Hector tells Stella that he is taking Madeline back to London with him as she needs to rest, but he leaves Stella there with Mr sheers and Annie to work out what it is that Lucien wants and to find out once and for all, so Madeline can come back and have her baby, safe in the knowledge that no harm will come to them.
Stella, Annie and Mr sheers embark on a journey to discover all that has happened in the past, to uncover all the lies, secrets and horrors that have taken place in the house that have caused spirits to be at such unrest. Hunting down past members staff who can shed light on what happened before the fateful day Lucien died.
This is such a great supernatural tale. What secrets is the house keeping??? Everybody from Lady Brightwell, Miss Scott and the housekeeper Mrs Henge, have secrets that they are desperate not be revealed.
As much as this was an eerie read, when it came to chapter 41 my heart swelled for Stella as you find out about her time in France and what really happened to Gerald, this brought a lump in my throat and truly brought a tear to my eye.
The characters in this story are larger then life and you can't help but feel alongside everyone of them, good or bad.
This was such a hard review for me to write, I desperately did not want to give anything away, but at the same time I wanted to tell you enough to make you want to grab this book immediately, the few haunting things I have mentioned are nothing compared to what you will read further on in the book.
Completely haunting, this story keeps you up late, listening out for the things that go bump in the night. I genuinely could not put it down.
I am astounded that this is Anita's debut novel and I can not wait for her next book..
Definitely one for the TBR list and definitely an author to add to your favourites list.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR...
A farmer’s daughter from Shropshire, Anita studied English and American History at the University of East Anglia before moving to London to work in media analysis and communications.
She left paid employment to become a stay-at-home mum when she had the first of her three children. Sadly, Anita‘s youngest child developed a rare form of epilepsy in infancy which has left him severely mentally disabled and she is now his full-time-carer, but she has begun snatching what time she can to pursue her lifelong ambition of writing historical fiction.
Anita now lives in Berkshire with her husband, her two lovely girls and her gorgeous boy, a fluffy cat with an attitude, and a bonkers Welsh Springer Spaniel. This is Anita's debut novel.
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