Magic and mystery.
This is a strange book, where all is not as it seems. Not quite to the extent of Alice in Wonderland, but in a similar, less extreme vein. There is some beautiful, almost poetic writing and the characters feel like players in a period piece, such as Jane Eyre.
In the opening scenes we meet Mr Crowe, whose behaviour is particularly heavy-handed and who sets in motion a series of events that he appears to have very little control over. His manservant, Eustace is left to pick up the pieces and attempt to minimise the damage, but eventually, Crowe is called to account by the creepy Dr Chastern and his nasty sidekick, Nazaire.
Several questions are left unanswered, such as who really was Mr Crowe? He appears to be an elderly (centuries old?) author of sorts, who has lost his motivation and now spends his time in a rambling old house with a woman who he picked up at a night club. Two other people live with him - his mute ward, Clara, who also possesses mysterious powers, and the devoted Eustace.
Eustace has his own backstory but this part I found less captivating. Ditto Clara's captivity, both of which form the second part of the book. I would have liked Clara to have had some backstory too. The ending was unfortunately a bit rushed, though maybe the author had backed himself into a corner by this time. For me it was the magic and mystery of the first half of the book that earned this novel its four stars.
I don't think I would have enjoyed this story so much if I'd read it in hard copy but I was listening to an Audible version, which was beautifully narrated by Mike Grady and Imogen Wilde. My only niggle with the narration was that Ms Wilde did not have enough variation in her voices and so Nazaire sounded very much like Arabella.