Necromancy is suggestive of sorcery and black magic but in Lily’s House this gateway to the afterlife is initially more subtle and understated before assuming a deeper significance as the family tree unravels with Jen struggling to accept her grandmother’s death and its mystical fall out.
The seaside setting imbues the story with golden hues and dreamy half forgotten memories as Cassandra Parkin develops characters who ebb and flow, like the tide, into our consciousness. Proximity to water is reflected in the sometimes staccato narrative, with periods of relative stability and calm, as Jen and her daughter Marianne make arrangements for the funeral and house sale, swept away on a sea of wave crashing emotion as snippets of supressed recollections are washed ashore.
The house is full of voices whose often plangent notes descend audibly into a relationship that is based more on hope than real belief and has left Jen cast adrift in a marriage, to a musician husband, whose guileless aspirations conceal a limited talent and superficial personality.
You sense that Lily’s all pervading presence holds the key to the future and the past but the answers have to be unlocked and by proving both elusive and unreadable she appears to exact a witch-like vengeance over those she felt had stepped outside her moral code of conduct. Close your eyes and add a touch of haunting music and you could imagine Roald Dahl telling us to behave ourselves or the wicked witch will come and find you but the great story teller would undoubtedly appreciate the convoluted route by which the author takes the reader in one direction before revealing the true characters of those closest to Lily and it’s this unpredictability that lies at the heart of all the best suspense stories.
James Moon, the man next door, perfectly encapsulates someone who is multi-layered and manages to conceal the truth behind a heavily disguised gruff and proud veneer. Throughout the blurred lines between reality and dreams are reinforced by the latent power of Lily’s deathly presence but it transpires that ultimately nature is the real killer.
Lilly’s House by Cassandra Perkins (Published by Legend Press. Price £8.99)
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