My review and thoughts
I started this book with hesitation because I didn't really know what to expect as I'd never read this type of book before. At the beginning, we meet Bibi, an adopted teenager who feels that she doesn't belong in her family or in England. She often goes to the dilapidated old mansion called Thyme's End near her home when she wants to escape from troubles at home because she feels accepted and safe there. It was owned by the much acclaimed author of The Owl Of The Desert, H.J Martin but no one has seen the current owner for 10 years.
Bibi came across to be very bratty girl who doesn't appreciate what she has and I found it very hard to like her at first. However, I found her easier to like after she is discovered in Thyme's End by the twenty seven- year old owner, Oliver who is finally visiting from America. Over one day special day spent together,they develop a friendship and find that they have a unique understanding of each other and their feelings. The day that they spent together was lovely because although they only knew each other for a short time, I felt their relationship was believable as the bonding process was slowly built up. I would have liked to see more of their relationship because I love a bit of romance but I understand that would have undermined the impact of the book.
The next part of the book jumps back in time to when Oliver was ten years younger in 1996 and some of the mysteries about the house that were raised by Bibi were unravelled. We also learn the reasons behind Oliver's troubled feelings and problems in the first part, which helped me to understand and get to know his character a lot more. There was a lot of suspense in this part because an element of ghost stories slips in but it didn't capture my imagination although I can't place my finger on why because it was very well written. My favourite part of this section was learning about the history of the house.
The final part of the novel is set in 1936 and is told through the eyes of Oliver's Grandfather also by the same name), who we met in part 2 as an older man. I don't want to give too much away about it but it explores the relationship between Oliver and the author H.J Martin, who is known by him as Jack and reveals the true nature of who he was.
I thought that the idea of telling the novel in three parts was really clever and interesting and at the end, I briefly looked back through the first section with fresh eyes when I knew the truth about Thyme's End and saw the trail of hints left by the author. Another thing that I thought particularly effective was the way that the house was used as a kind of 'prop' or 'symbol' in the plot because it means something different to each characters.Without the house, there would be no story!
Verdict: It's not at all that this book was bad, because it truly wasn't- but I couldn't immerse myself in the characters and story so I didn't particularly enjoy it. However, I think that those who like Gothic types of books might like it because I believe that if you can really get into it, the atmosphere would be very spine chilling and tense. If you like the sound of it, you may want to check out a more favourable review of it at The Bookette.
I read this book for the Out of Your Comfort Zone Challenge hosted by Danya at A Tapestry Of Words because as I mentioned before, I've never read any Gothic thriller type books previously. Despite the fact that I didn't particularly like it, trying the genre was a very helpful experience. I also read it for the British Books Challenge 2011 hosted by The Bookette.
Thank you to Bloomsbury UK for sending me a review copy of this book.