Author Daniel Mills
In the summer of 1891, Henry Feathering travels to Bittersweet Lodge at the invitation of his reclusive widower uncle. Under the shadow of the dilapidated old mansion, Henry falls in love with the enigmatic Clemency St. James and proposes to her in the shelter of a locust grove. As the newlyweds settle into the lodge, they soon learn of the house’s sordid past—ghostly visitations, unexplained illnesses, and madness—which now plagues Henry and Clemency, creating an irreparable rift between them. Can they salvage what is left of their marriage? Or will the unbridgeable distances dividing men from women, the past from the present, and the living from the dead doom them to the fate of what lies beneath the grave of a young girl buried on these unhallowed grounds...Review: Unhallowed Ground is a short study, roughly 77 pages, in gothic fiction. Following the tradition, it includes the dilapidated estate, a reclusive relation, a haunting past and a doomed future with an emphasis on setting to create emotion and in truth, a character. I'm a big fan of the gothic novel and after giving this some thought, I figured out what wasn't clicking. All the bare bones of the story are there and with some tweaking could turn this into a great book. It comes down to pacing and timing. Even in short stories, gothic tales seem to take their time building on the atmosphere and emotion of the story. The suspense is coupled with the gloom and doom. Here, the plot is too rushed and needs more development even with the restraints of a short page length, this can be accomplished. The relationship with Clemency is absurdly hurried and the engagement (or coming about of it) is too fast. Since tension switches to focus on their life and love together, this moment in time needs to be further developed and slowed down. Perhaps, some internal dialogue or secret past exposed would assist in building a reader attachment and investment to the characters, specifically Clem. I really did not understand her motives behind her decisions. If this were solely based on her thoughts or provoked by the haunting bride curse, her own insecurities would indeed help. Henry's anger is a little confusing as well. I understand the tight sibling bond, but it hints at something more sinister. That hint never goes anywhere and if the reader is to draw their own conclusion, they might need a little more leading down the correct path of assumption.
* ARC provided by Dark Fuse courtesy of NetGalley