by Megan Chance
Amazon / Goodreads
After she nearly ruins her family with a terrible misstep, Elena Spira is sent to Venice to escape disgrace and to atone by caring for the ailing Samuel Farber. But the crumbling and decaying Ca’ Basilio palazzo, where Samuel is ensconced, holds tragic secrets, and little does Elena know how profoundly they will impact her. Soon she begins to sense that she is being watched by something. And when Samuel begins to have hallucinations that make him violent and unpredictable, she can’t deny she’s in mortal danger.
Then impoverished nobleman Nero Basilio, Samuel’s closest friend and the owner of the palazzo, arrives. Elena finds herself entangled with both men in a world where the past seeps into the present and nothing is as it seems. As Elena struggles to discover the haunting truth before it destroys her, a dark force seems to hold Samuel and the Basilio in thrall—is it madness, or something more sinister?
Review:While the book title already gives away that this is a ghost story, I thought the building of the story was unique in that it didn't seem quite like a ghost story right away. It helps that the main character, Elena, has her secrets, and the mystery of her past, as well as the severity of Samuel's epilepsy made it possible that there were other things going on in this story. In that way, suspense is built up quickly, and I found this an engaging read from the start.
Elena is a wonderfully rational main character, at first. Her upbringing and society has kept her restrained and proper, but in the setting and decadence of Venice, she becomes more of a woman, and realizes her potential. That character arc is the heart of the story, which made this novel feel more complex than just a ghost story. Especially when it is juxtaposed with the tragedy of the Basilio palazzo.
There is romance in this novel, as well as intrigue, and I thought it was very believable for Elena to fall in love so quickly, but it did feel quick and I was not as comfortable or taken with the romance. I think that was an important aspect of the story though, and helped develop Elena further. The unlikely friendship that bloomed between Elena, Nero and Samuel was a great aspect though - they were a wonderful team to read about - they did not always have trust or an amicable relationship, but their complex interactions brought another level of interest to the story.
The mystery of the ghost gradually became clearer to me as I read, so that the ending was not as much of a surprise as I would have liked. It was solidly set up though, since the conclusion was easily drawn from the facts given. I don't want to reveal too much about the ending though, just that it was well-constructed and believable given the facts. I thoroughly enjoyed this story for the suspense and the character development (especially Elena!)
(I received this book from the publisher or author for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review.)
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