Lake Union Publishing | June 2017 | 335 pgs
Source: Purchased 

Eleanor Harper used to work as a crime reporter until she finds the overall ordeal is too much to bear. When she knew that Cliffside Manor is looking for a new director, she decided to give it a try. Cliffside Manor is an exclusive, isolated retreat for the artists and writers where they could stay for a short period of time without being bothered by the outside world. Eleanor knows little about the retreat, but she is aware that it used to be a tuberculosis sanatorium founded in the 1950s by a local philanthropist called Chester Dare. Unfortunately, Chester and one of his daughters, Chamomile, had passed during an accident and Eleanor remembers interviewing the other daughter, Penelope (the present director who is retiring), back then when she was still a new journalist. Eleanor eventually got the job but what she didn't understand is, why would Penelope commit suicide after giving her the role? 

As much as Eleanor is perplexed and shocked over Penelope's act, she knew she has to stay on at Cliffside to welcome the fellows (in which the artists and writers are called) and assure that things are running as normal. As she gets to know more about the fellows as the days go, she is intrigued to learn that almost each of them has some connection with Cliffside Manor in one way or other, including herself considering she interviewed Penelope two decades ago. Eleanor begins to wonder if Penelope had intended to bring them together with a purpose but for what reason? 

I've to say this book was atmospheric and suspenseful. The characters are intriguing and fleshed out and I enjoyed reading about everyone of them, be them likeable or not. Eleanor's interactions with the fellows and a few of the staff at Cliffside took up most of the plot, but there was also a sense of foreboding, too, given the history and the dark past of Cliffside as the reader would later find out as the story progresses. I was totally captivated by the suspense and the ambiguous sense of things that go bump in the night, but I wasn't prepared for the conclusion that left me feeling. . . well, stumped. That said, it was still an enjoyable read and I'll definitely look forward to more works by this author. 

* This book was chosen by Lark for our buddy read some time ago but then the pandemic happened, forcing our libraries to close so our buddy read plan being pushed back. Lark managed to get her copy now that their library allows for curbside checkout, but ours remain closed until further notice (I hope the pandemic situation will get better for all of us; best of all, if there's a vaccine to it). Nevertheless, I'm glad we were able to read this book and I hope you'll visit Lark's blog after reading this (Thanks, Lark, for suggesting this book!) Below are Lark's questions to me on this book:

1. Of the five visiting artists--Cassandra, Brynn, Diana, Henry and Richard--which did you like best? And why? 
All the characters seemed fine to me, although I've to admit I didn't like Brynn due to her rude and arrogant demeanour. My favourite character among the artists will be Henry. He was kind and easygoing and I could feel his sincerity right from the start he stepped into Cliffside. 

2. If you could only use three words to describe this book, what three words (or phrases) would you choose?
Atmospheric. Suspenseful. Mind-blowing.

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8 Responses
  1. Lark Says:

    Awesome review as always, Melody. :) Glad we finally got to read this one! Here's hoping The Sun Down Motel comes in soon. I've moved up to #9 and there are like 23 copies, so I should get one in the next few weeks.

  2. Melody Says:

    Lark - Thanks, Lark! Hopefully you'll get that book soon! Have a great weekend ahead! :)

  3. jenclair Says:

    Glad you both enjoyed this one.

  4. Melody Says:

    Jenclair - It was a good read. I wish the ending was better, though (just a personal preference).

  5. I can definitely see the appeal of this one. The Gothic atmosphere, in particular. It's too bad the ending wasn't better. It does sound like an interesting read, just the same.

  6. Melody Says:

    Wendy - I wish there's more clue along the story which hint at that ending. That said, I think it'll still appeal to some readers.

  7. Iliana Says:

    I read one of this author's other books and found it a bit problematic but there was something to her writing that I did like so I wouldn't mind checking out another book. I think this one could be a good one.

  8. Melody Says:

    Iliana - This is my first book by this author and although I didn't love it, I'll still check out her other books. Hopefully they'll be more to my liking.

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