- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (July 24, 2012)
- ISBN-10: 0062122614
- Source: Publisher
Charlotte Markham, just recently hired as governess, is forced to assume the role of nanny to the two young Darrow boys after their current nanny is found murdered. The boys, James and Paul, are still dealing with the death of their mother, Lily Darrow, just a year prior. She quickly and readily assumes the role of nanny, never given the chance to have children of her own. She establishes a routine of study, interspersed with creative activities, to keep the boys entertained.
Charlotte has always put a great deal of respect and credibility on dreams and their meaning. Having lost her own parents and then her husband, Charlotte relied on her dreams as a way to “visit” the ones that she lost. One day, she suggests that the boys, who frequently have quite vivid dreams, to put the dreams to paper in art or prose. Both boys draw vivid pieces of artwork. One is a map and, during an outing in the forest, Charlotte decides to allow the boys to follow it. It is then they cross over into The Ending, the place for the Things That Cannot Die and find the ominous House of Darkling. On the steps stands the boys’ mother, Lily Darrow, waiting for her boys all this time.
Obviously skeptical, Charlotte reluctantly allows the boys to enter the halls of the dark home. It is there they see a whole host of strange and unusual beings, not quite human. Lily eventually convinces her of her identity, and tells Charlotte the bargain she made to give her a second chance with her boys. She can never leave the House of Darkling, nor can her husband ever be made aware of her existence.
Meanwhile, in the outside world, the local authorities continue to hunt the man in black who killed the boys nanny. It doesn’t take long for Charlotte to see that this man in black is tied to the master of Darkling and the sinister activities taking place in that otherworldly place have a direct impact on the outside world. He is playing a dark and dangerous game with the Darrows, one with potentially deadly and devastating consequences.
A book that spans genres as well as time periods, Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling is a truly mesmerizing Gothic tale. The author, Michael Boccacino, has written poetry and his talent as a poet is made clear in this novel. The prose is eloquent and lyrical, creating an incredibly vivid setting before the readers’ eyes. This is evident in the opening paragraphs:
Every night I dreamt of the dead. In dreams those who have been lost can be found, gliding on fragments of memory through the dark veil of sleep to ensnare themselves within the remains of the day, to pretend for a moment like a lifetime that they might still be alive and well, waiting by my bedside when the dream was done.
The novel has a dark and sinister feel to it, reminding me of a mash-up of modern and classic Gothic fiction. I clearly felt an influence of Poe as well as the more modern author, Neil Gaiman.
A key element to this novel is the idea of not only death, but of creation itself. Interspersed through the pages were stories that Lily read to her children, stories of not only death but of life. A truly unique addition to the novel, I found myself looking forward to these passages and the messages they portrayed.
I found it incredibly surprising to learn that this is the author’s first novel, for the quality of writing that is presented indicates years of experience and knowledge. What truly sent me over the edge, though, was the author’s reason/influence for writing this novel: his own experiences and feelings after his own mother passed away.
Ultimately, Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling is a completely mesmerizing, story of a mother’s love for her children and just how far one will go for the ones they love. If you are looking for a truly eloquent Gothic novel with a touch of the supernatural, this is the read for you. Highly recommended.
Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing me the opportunity to participate in this tour. Please be sure to check out the official tour page for other stops in the tour.
Tags: death, dreams, family, gothic, loss, Review, supernatural, William Morrow