The Ghost Orchid
"I came to Bosco for the quiet. That's what it's famous
for…. Even Bosco's legendary silence won't be able to still
the voice in my head."
That's the first and the last of Chapter One. And it presages a
sinister story about to unfold. A group of artists has gathered at
Bosco, a prestigious retreat that one applies for and then
nervously hopes to be among the few chosen. As with every year, an
impressive mix of talent has drawn together for this latest season.
But each individual who has been selected has a strong, if obscure,
tie to the estate. And the spirits inhabiting the house have
brought them there for a purpose. The sought-after "quiet hours of
work" at Bosco are anything but --- and then there are the nights;
the long, cold nights.
Slipping seamlessly between the present and 1893, the tale of one
family's tragedy is revealed, interwoven with the histories of
Bosco's present-day guests. In an ill-fated summer long ago, Aurora
Latham, mistress of the house, believed that her dead children's
spirits lingered at Bosco, perpetually searching for a peace that
so far had eluded them. Milo, her husband, wanted a peace of his
own, so he summoned the famous medium Corinth Blackwell to calm his
wife's irrational --- in his opinion --- fears. But instead of
peace, there followed more heartbreak.
This year, first-time novelist Ellis Brooks is thrilled to be among
the famous personae invited to Bosco. She has been researching the
sad events of 1893 that led to the loss of three of the Latham
children to diphtheria and the puzzling abduction of their last
living child. As Ellis works on her story, she finds herself
intrigued not only by the events of that long-ago summer, but by
Bosco itself: an imposing old manor with false doors, twisting
corridors concealed behind bookcases, a creepy attic storing much
more than musty trunks, and splendid views over its once-grand
grounds. She becomes distracted by the ruins of the estate gardens
where she discovers a network of secret passages, overgushing
fountains, hidden grottoes decorated --- or guarded --- by oddly
disturbing statues, a terrifying maze…and the many legends
behind them all.
While Ellis and the rest struggle to decipher Bosco's haunting
past, the escalating danger pits each against the others, forcing
them to ponder who can be trusted and who cannot. After all,
choosing the wrong alliance might be fatal.
A love story as much as a ghost story, THE GHOST ORCHID reads like
a classic literary mystery. Its genre crossing is sure to please
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on January 22, 2011