Linden Manor by Catherine Cavendish

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Linden Manor by Catherine Cavendish
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (92 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Have you ever been so scared your soul left your body?

All her life, Lesley Carpenter has been haunted by a gruesome nursery rhyme—“The Scottish Bride”—sung to her by her great grandmother. To find out more about its origins, Lesley visits the mysterious Isobel Warrender, the current hereditary owner of Linden Manor, a grand house with centuries of murky history surrounding it.

But her visit transforms into a nightmare when Lesley sees the ghost of the Scottish bride herself, a sight that, according to the rhyme, means certain death. The secrets of the house slowly reveal themselves to Lesley, terrible secrets of murder, evil and a curse that soaks the very earth on which Linden Manor now stands. But Linden Manor has saved its most chilling secret for last.

Some people claim that every nursery rhyme contains a kernel of truth. If this is true, Lesley is in grave danger, and she has no way of knowing it. Will she unravel the real story behind “The Scottish Bride” in time?

A memorable ghost story needs two things: a chilling backstory and a terminally isolated setting. Luckily Linden Manor fulfills both requirements so well that I didn’t want to stop reading. The creepy house Lesley visits while searching for the truth behind her favorite childhood nursery rhyme made me shudder. Sometimes beautiful locations hide ugly secrets, and the tension between these two realities is expressed wonderfully in the descriptions of the estate.

I figured out certain plot twists well in advance of when they actually occurred. All of them worked well within the plot, but given how well-written this story is I would have liked to see a few more liberties taken with certain tropes. Had it been a little more difficult to predict them this book would have easily earned a much higher rating.

With that being said, uncovering the hints about what was really going on was exciting. Only an attentive reader will pick up on the more subtle ones, and I was impressed by how much work was put into striking a balance between keeping this reader on her toes and explaining what was happening when the plot thickens. This is a strongly paced tale that I didn’t want to put down, and I’m really looking forward to reading more from Ms. Cavendish.

Linden Manor is deliciously spooky. Paranormal activity isn’t always harmless, and this novella is a great choice for anyone in the mood to explore just how dangerous it can be to wander onto the wrong property.

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