Friday, 7 August 2020

BLOG TOUR: The Witch House - Ann Rawson


Who can you trust, if you can't trust yourself?

Alice Hunter, grieving and troubled after a breakdown, stumbles on the body of her friend and trustee, Harry Rook. The police determine he has been ritually murdered and suspicion falls on the vulnerable Alice, who inherited the place known locally as The Witch House from her grandmother, late High Priestess of the local coven.

When the investigations turn up more evidence, and it all seems to point to Alice, even she begins to doubt herself.

Can she find the courage to confront the secrets and lies at the heart of her family and community to uncover the truth, prove her sanity, and clear herself of murder?


What did I think?

Oh wow The Witch House is a book that has it all: murder, mystery, family secrets, the occult, an unreliable narrator and, rather surprisingly, archaeology.  With all of those wonderful ingredients, it feels like The Witch House was written especially for me with many of my interests in mind.

Alice has a breakdown after the death of her grandmother and wakes up in an institution.  When she is released, she returns to the house she has inherited via a trust from her grandmother, much to the chagrin of her mother who was left with another property and a meagre allowance.  Alice doesn't really have any kind of relationship with her mother, having been left in her grandmother's care at a young age.  Alice also inherits her love of archaeology from her grandmother and I absolutely loved this part of the story.

When the trustee is murdered in an apparent pagan ritual, Alice not only discovers the body but becomes the prime suspect.  As more evidence points the finger in Alice's direction, she becomes the sole focus of the police's attentions.  Alice must dig for evidence herself with a little help from her friend and her archaeology professor.

I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed archaeology playing a part in the story.  It's so unusual to find it in a fiction book and I loved the descriptions of the Roman treasures, fake or otherwise, that were part of Alice's grandmother's collection.  The descriptions are so vivid that I even felt like I was part of the field trip taken by Alice's course. It's so exciting to think that we're walking in the footsteps of the Romans and there could be treasure buried beneath our feet.

Of course, although it is of huge interest to me, archaeology is only a small part of the story.  Alice's grandmother was a High Priestess and Alice has been brought up surrounded by the occult and pagan traditions, with her grandmother choosing to hand down her knowledge to her granddaughter rather than her daughter.  Once you get to know Alice's mother, it's very easy to see why she has been bypassed!

The Witch House is a completely gripping and compelling murder mystery with an unusual occult slant.  Even when you think you have it all worked out, Ann Rawson still has the element of surprise hidden up her sleeve in this outstanding novel.  I was on the edge of my seat towards the end and couldn't read it fast enough.  Ann Rawson is an exceptional storyteller and I'll certainly be looking out for more of her books.  So very different from other crime novels, The Witch House is a very highly recommended read.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon




About the author:

Ann Rawson has long been addicted to story. As a child she longed to learn to read because she knew there was magic in those pages, the inky squiggles that turned into words and became images in her head – the stories that could transport her away from the everyday. As she grew older, she divined there was truth in books too. They were a glimpse into other minds. Her reading became the foundation of a deep and abiding interest in what makes people tick – and so she soon became hooked on crime fiction.

Age ten, she wrote to Malcolm Saville, author of the Lone Pine Series, enclosing her first short story. He wrote back and encouraged her to continue writing – and she is heartbroken that the letter is long lost. His book, Lone Pine Five, sparked a lifelong interest in archaeology, as it mentions the Mildenhall Treasure which makes an appearance in The Witch House.

A lapsed witch with enduring pagan tendencies, she lives on the south coast. She still thinks of herself as a Northerner, although she’s been in exile for many years. Almost every day she walks on the Downs or the white cliffs with her husband, plotting her next novel while he designs computer systems.

Ann’s debut novel, A Savage Art was published by Fahrenheit Press in 2016. She has published some short fiction, and in 2019 her memoir piece If… was shortlisted for the Fish Short Memoir Prize.

She is currently completing a memoir and working on her third novel.

You can follow her on Twitter @AE_Rawson (where she doesn’t go far, to be honest), find her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/aerawson/, and her blog is at www.strawintogold.co.uk

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