The Fate of Mercy Alban is a good old-fashioned ghost story, complete with haunted houses, hidden passages, ominous thunderstorms, family curses, witches and spells, faithful old servants, and more. But because it’s realistic, and set in modern times, it adds a new twist on an old genre. Author Wendy Webb has a lot of fun with it.
Grace Alban hasn’t been home in 20 years, not since the fateful summer when her twin brothers were drowned and her father took his own life. Now, with the somewhat unexpected death of her mother, she’s brought her 15 year old daughter to the mansion where she was raised. She’s relieved to see the family’s faithful servants still running the place, Jameson and his wife Jane, respectively the gardener and housekeeper, and Carter the chauffeur, all of whom came from the UK and have been running the place for 50 years.
But there are strange events happening. Grace and her daughter Amity are exploring the house’s hidden passageways when they come across a sheaf of old love letters between Grace’s mother and the eminent author David Coleville, who committed suicide at the house 50 years earlier. Then there’s the appearance of a crazed elderly woman who claims to be Grace’s aunt Mercy, who died when she was 10 but who has apparently been living out her days in an exclusive home in Switzerland.
Strange events happen. Grace decides to stay, and makes friends with the attractive, single pastor of the local Lutheran church, who quickly becomes the staunch ally she needs to help her navigate things that become more and more bizarre. They successfully find the manuscript that author Coleville had sent to Grace’s mother, and search it for clues as to what happened that long ago summer’s night. So many clues seem to point back to that fateful evening, but Jane, Jameson and Carter are all tight-lipped and refuse to talk about it, although all were there. The Alban family has always had the money it needed to cover and hide things it didn’t want public knowledge, and Grace is frustrated as she seeks to find out the truth. To complicate matters even more, Grace’s mother had decided to talk–for the very first time–to a reporter, but died hours before the interview was to have taken place.
The Fate of Mercy Alban is a fast-paced page-turner while still containing lots of elements of normality–a divorcee beginning to fall in love again, a mother worried about keeping her teenage daughter safe, renewing old ties with old friends. I’m not normally a horror story fan at all but this wasn’t gory, just delightfully creepy. It’s a good old-fashioned story of witches and curses, updated for modern times.
Elizabeth enjoys a wide variety of genres. Learn more at her blog Planet Nomad.