The Daughters of Block Island

Thomas & Mercer: Amazon. Dec. 2023. 332p. ISBN 9781662512988. pap. $16.99. HORROR
DEBUT Blake Bronson arrives on Block Island in search of her birth mother. Staying at the historic White Hall mansion on the island and recovering from alcohol addiction, she feels as if she’s the heroine of her own tragic gothic novel. There are secret passageways, torrential downpours, and ghosts—but are the ghosts real? Before Blake can discover the truth, she’s murdered, but not before mailing a letter to the sister she never met, Thalia Mills. When Thalia returns home to the island after a decade’s absence, she must unwind the mystery behind Blake’s death to try to avoid the same fate. Given the novel’s mysterious mansion setup, horror fans may be disappointed by the lack of terror and atmosphere.
VERDICT While there are numerous references here to horror icons such as Shirley Jackson and gothic novels, including Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, they do not fully resonate with the characters of Carmen’s debut novel (after the short story collection Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked: Thirteen Stories), making it read like a disjointed collection of tropes.
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