Book Review: The Room in the Attic by Louise Douglas

A child who does not know her name…

In 1903 fishermen find a wrecked boat containing a woman, who has been badly beaten, and a young girl. An ambulance is sent for, and the two survivors are taken to All Hallows, the imposing asylum, hidden deep on Dartmoor. The woman remains in a coma, but the little girl, Harriet, awakens and is taken to an attic room, far away from the noise of the asylum, and is put in the care of Nurse Emma Everdeen.

Two motherless boys banished to boarding school…

In 1993, All Hallows is now a boarding school. Following his mother’s death and his father’s hasty remarriage, Lewis Tyler is banished to Dartmoor, stripped of his fashionable clothes, shorn of his long hair, and left feeling more alone than ever. There he meets Isak, another lost soul, and whilst refurbishment of the dormitories is taking place, the boys are marooned up in the attic, in an old wing of the school.

Cries and calls from the past that can no longer be ignored…

All Hallows is a building full of memories, whispers, cries from the past. As Lewis and Isak learn more about the fate of Harriet, and Nurse Emma’s desperate fight to keep the little girl safe, it soon becomes clear there are ghosts who are still restless.

Are they ghosts the boys hear at night in the room above, are they the unquiet souls from the asylum still caught between the walls? And can Lewis and Isak bring peace to All Hallows before the past breaks them first…

*****

It’s 1903. Fishermen find a boat containing an unconscious, badly beaten woman and a young girl. They are both taken to All Hallows, an asylum on Dartmoor.

As the woman remains in a coma, the young girl, Harriet is taken to an attic room and put into the care of Nurse Emma Everdeen.

In 1993, All Hallows is now a boarding school for boys. Lewis is sent there after the death of his mother. He feels alone and isolated.

He then meets his new roommate, Isak. Their room is in the attic, located in the old part of the building.

The boys begin to learn more about each other and about the school’s past as an asylum.

It soon becomes clear that the past is restless and that many ghosts still linger.

From the moment I read the premise for this book, I knew it was going to be a book I would find intriguing.

Mental Health is a subject that I have both personal experience in and am fascinated by, especially how it was dealt with in the early 1900’s. It’s mad that the woman and the child, one of them in a coma, would be sent to an asylum rather than a hospital.

Told from the point of view of Emma in 1903 and Lewis in 1993, this duel point of view and timeline drew me in immediately.

All Hallows jumps out of the page. It becomes its own character with its spooky, imposing, gothic demeanour. I could imagine myself standing outside, looking up at it with Dartmoor surrounding me. You wonder what secrets it’s hiding.

Emma is wise. She’s been a nurse for a long time. She’s known what it’s like to lose a child and so she becomes very protective of Harriet and how this develops over the course of the novel is interesting.

Lewis is a lost soul and I felt so sorry for him; to be sent away knowing that the only parent you have left doesn’t really want anything to do with you. Both his and Isak’s lives are tragic in similar ways and I can see how they were drawn together as friends. Lewis, as well as what he faces at All Hallows, has his own ghosts that he needs to lay to rest.

There really are some heartbreaking moments in this novel that has you questioning your faith in people but it’s also full of strong characters and a clever plot.

Louise Douglas does a really good job at keeping the suspense, pace and tension going throughout the novel as the two time lines become more connected. Both Emma and Lewis’s stories kept my interest. There have been some duel timeline novels where I have favoured one section of the story over the other but this did not happen here. I was eager to find out what happened overall.

There’s really not much more I can say without giving huge elements of the plot away, especially when it comes to the fate of Emma, Harriet and Lewis but this novel really did mess with my nerves, had me on the edge of my seat and engaged right up to the end.

This supernatural novel is spooky, creepy and enthralling. It’s a perfect read, especially as we head toward Halloween.

(Thank you to Louise, Rachel’s Random Resources and Boldwood Books for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.) 

 

About Louise Douglas:

Louise Douglas is the bestselling and brilliantly reviewed author of 6 novels including The Love of my Life and Missing You – a RNA award winner. The Secrets Between Us was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. She lives in the West Country. Louise’s first book for Boldwood, The House by the Sea was published in March 2020.

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The Room in the Attic was released by Boldwood Books on 12th October 2021. Click to buy on Amazon UK.

 

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Laura
I’m Laura. I started Novel Kicks in 2009. I wanted a place to post my writing as well as give other writers like me the opportunity to do the same. There is also a monthly book club, a writing room which features writing prompts, book reviews, competitions, author interviews and guest posts.

I grew up by the sea (my favourite place in the world) and I currently live in Hampshire. I am married to Chris, have a cat named Buddy and I would love to be a writer. I’m trying to write the novel I’ve talked so much about writing if only I could stop pressing delete. I’ve loved writing since creative writing classes in primary school. I have always wanted to see my teacher Miss Sayers again and thank her for the encouragement. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything I can get my hands on, I love reading, dancing like a loon and singing to myself very badly. My current obsession is Once Upon a Time and I would be happy to live with magic in the enchanted forest surrounded by all those wonderful stories provided that world also included Harry Potter. I love reading chick lit. contemporary fiction and novels with mystery.

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