Rayne, Sarah - 'Ghost Song'
This is another fantastic novel by Sarah Rayne. GHOST SONG had me both absorbed and fascinated, as well as scared stiff and listening out for creaks in my flat in the dead of night. Wonderful stuff!
As with her previous books, the characters in Rayne's most recent work are so well developed that you feel as if you have known them for years. I love the way she interleaves the timelines of various different plots - past and present - and swaps between them at just the right moment; when tension is mounting and the last thing you want to do is move on to another plot.
The story revolves around an old music hall, called The Tarleton, on London's Bankside. Once a popular, bustling place, the Tarleton was closed in 1914 under mysterious circumstances and has remained shut ever since. Nobody knows who the owner is or why it was never re-opened after the war. The place is full of secrets, strange whisperings, creaking floorboards, and, of course, ghosts.
Rayne tantalizingly drip-feeds us with the story of Toby Chance, a well-known song writer who performs at the Tarleton, and vanishes suddenly in 1914, just before the theatre is closed. We are also told about Shona Seymour, a very disturbed young woman with a dark past of her own, that she can't quite remember. The consequences of what happens when she does remember are just terrible. Then, there is Caley Merrick, another shady character who is obsessed with the theatre and thinks he is linked with it somehow. Other central roles are filled by Hilary and Robert, who unleash a whole train of events that bring the hidden past cascading out into the open, Flora and Hal, Toby's parents, and many other colourful individuals that dance across the boards of the Tarleton, for our entertainment and delight.
It is Toby, however, who is central to the whole story. You become fixated on finding out what happened to him and why. Everything is eventually revealed - in true Rayne style - with many twists and turns along the way. The outcome is, of course, completely unexpected but just perfect nonetheless.
Sarah Rayne is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. I cannot wait to see what she serves up to us next!
Read another review of GHOST SONG.
Amanda Gillies, Scotland