Portis House emerged from the fog as we approached, showing itself slowly as a long, low shadow.…
In 1919 Kitty Weekes - pretty, resourceful, and on the run - falsifies her background to obtain a nursing position at Portis House, a remote hospital for soldiers left shell-shocked by the horrors of the Great War. Hiding the shame of their mental instability in what was once a magnificent private estate, the patients suffer from nervous attacks and tormenting dreams. But something more is going on at Portis House - its plaster is crumbling; its plumbing makes eerie noises; and strange, cold breaths of air waft through the empty rooms. It's known that the former occupants left abruptly, but where did they go? And why do the patients all seem to share the same nightmare, one so horrific that they dare not speak of it?
Kitty finds a dangerous ally in Jack Yates, an inmate who may be a war hero, a madman…or maybe both. But even as Kitty and Jack create a secret, intimate alliance to uncover the truth, disturbing revelations suggest the presence of powerful spectral forces. And when a medical catastrophe leaves them even more isolated, they must battle the menace on their own, caught in the heart of a mystery that could destroy them both.
©2014 Simone St. James (P)2014 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Fabulous narration by Mary Jane Wells. In 1919 England, at a lonely mansion where moors meet sea, 21 "mad" soldiers convalesce from WWI, suffering PTSD. But ghosts that reek of rot and whisper sweet suicide in the patients' ears really inhibit their recovery.
To this bleak place comes Kitty Weeks, age 20-ish, masquerading as a nurse, fleeing her own murderous father. She's resilient and courageous, but not foolish. And she recognizes the mysterious "patient 16" immediately. Soon enough, they join forces.
Engrossing, this dark gothic suspense novel. There's even a lovely bit of romance. Heartwarming in a few scenes, as the "madmen" bond against evil and remember who they are.
Quibble: The characterization of the hospital matron shifted midstream. What??
Some reviewers felt the plot faltered in the second half. Not so for me. Maybe Wells' narration made the difference. Plus, in the second half we got some heartwarming soldierly scenes and some tender love scenes.
I enjoyed that the narrator used accents appropriate the the characters.
Tie between Kitty and Jack (likely Jack- he's a cheeky charmer)
She brings to life the different natures and personalities of the characters that I don't know would have been as easy to notice in print.
I bought this book because it was tagged as a classic Gothic horror. I'm going to be re-listening because it IS a classic Gothic horror that also has a well handled romance, real history ties to enhance the horror, and enjoyable characters.
Below average for the audiobook narrator’s accent.
The narrator used an English accent that bothered me. The phrase “look what I got” sounded like “loo wha I gah.” A little of that would be ok, but not the whole book. I enjoy books using the elegant upper class British accent, but not what was used here. On the other hand, the narrator was good with emotional interpretations and general narration.
The best part of the story was the character development. I enjoyed the interactions among the person in charge, the nurses, and the patients.
The story is told in 1st person by Kitty. I would have preferred 3rd person. Kitty pretends to be a nurse to get the job. I did not like her enough. I was not intrigued with her enough. When she pondered something, I didn’t care about her feelings and perceptions. For example “I spent a long moment breathing in the clean night air and watching the few trees winking in the moonlight. How long had this day been, a year? two?” That’s a nice sentence, but it’s almost like I didn’t want to hear her talk.
As to the story and events, the first 2/3 was kind of slow. The last 1/3 was better. The events and actions were not different or special enough. At the end I felt the author threw in some sex and romance that felt out of place. There was not enough prior relationship development.
There were two ghosts. One was bad. The resolution of the bad ghost was unfinished. I saw no logic for what happened with the other ghost. I was unsatisfied.
Genre: paranormal mystery with suspense.
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