24.12.19

BOOK REVIEW: The Lost Ones by Anita Frank

Some houses are never at peace.England, 1917 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...
Publisher: Harper Collins
The Lost Ones is an accomplished debut from Anita Frank and it fully deserves the comparisons being made with Wilkie Collins and Susan Hill. 
Stella Marcham is mourning the death of her fiance in the First World War, where working as a nurse, she saw many horrors first hand. Feeling almost over-powered by her grief she is pleased to be invited to stay with her sister Madeleine who is expecting her first child. Stella arrives at Greyswick, a country estate still very much controlled by Madeleine’s mother-in-law to find her sister much altered. Instead of the pregnancy glow that Stella expected, she finds Madeleine wracked with anxiety and convinced that there is something sinister in the great house. At first she is sceptical but then she too experiences things in the house that can’t be explained. Tristan Sheers arrives prepared to refute the sisters’ claims and although striving for different purposes, he and Stella start delving into Greyswick’s past and soon they uncover the truth behind the strange goings-on. 
The Lost Ones is beautifully creepy and definitely not one to read on your own late at night. I marvelled at the way Anita Frank built up the tension and there were several times when I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. She is so clever at using little events to give you a greater and greater sense of unease, voices in the night, an empty baby’s crib rocking, invisible hands on your back. The characters add to this too, Mrs Henge the housekeeper has a definite air of Mrs Danvers about her as she suddenly appears from shadowy corners in the house. 
Greyswick is the perfect setting for this story, all families have secrets and the house has witnessed them all. Bound by social etiquette and her position as a guest, Stella has to really push herself in order to discover the truth. All she wants to do is return her sister’s happiness but there are so many people in the book who want the past to remain hidden. There were points within the book where you question Stella’s reliability as a narrator as there are several references to the state of her mental health. You begin to wonder if she has just imagined it all as she is still grieving and recovering from her time in France.

I very much enjoyed The Lost Ones, it is a fantastic story and perfectly executed.

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