TRIGGER WARNING: memories of spousal and child abuse
Ingrid Barker runs away from her abusive husband and takes her daughter Susan to a remote area of Scotland to act as housekeeper for the McCleod family. But both parties are harbouring dangerous secrets…
What Happened At The Abbey is a sinister mystery book with elements of the supernatural. The book is set during Victorian times although the exact date is not specified.
Ingrid is desperate to escape her husband. She has happy memories of her childhood in Scotland so returns to the area to take the position of hosekeeper. But within minutes of arrival she discovers that her actual role in more akin to housemaid and she is trapped between the master’s warring children, a disgruntled and talentless cook and maid.
Reluctantly, she accepts the change in circumstances due to her desperation but is unsettled by strange episodes including cold drafts and odd smells as well as the discovery of notes from her predecessor. Gertrude McCleod is flexing her new power within the household and her brothers Miles and Blake are angered by her behaviour. All of the main characters are haunted by the past…
The book is written in the first person throughout. However, I felt a little confused as the narrator changes from Ingrid to Miles without warning, sometimes within a chapter. A simple name at the start of each chapter or section would have eliminated this entirely. However, I almost felt that Miles’ narration was unnecessary to the plot development but did offer additional insights.
I have to mention the remote Scottish location and the associated bog and ruined abbey which contribute to the setting and supports the backdrop to events. The sinister and tense atmosphere is effectively created and secrets are gradually revealed. There were some good twists as the conclusion approached and I wanted Ingrid to find safety, happiness and peace for herself and her daughter.
What Happened At The Abbey is an entertaining, spooky and emotional mystery novel.
What Happened at the Abbey
When Ingrid flees a violent husband to become a housekeeper in the Scottish Highlands, she discovers the family she works for has a much darker history than her own.
Who haunts Strathbairn? Why are the adult McCleod children at each other’s throats? And why does the youngest sneak off at night? As Ingrid searches for answers, she grows ever more fearful that her husband will track her down.
Set in late 19th century Scottish Highlands, WHAT HAPPENED AT THE ABBEY is a gothic mystery brimming with intrigue, ghostly drama, and family secrets.
Author Bio – Isobel Blackthorn is a prolific novelist of unique and engaging fiction. She writes across a range of genres, including gripping mysteries and dark psychological thrillers.
The Unlikely Occultist: A biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey received an Honorable Mention in the 2021 Reader’s Favorite book awards. A Prison in the Sun was shortlisted in the LGBTQ category of the 2021 International Book Awards and the 2020 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards. Her short story ‘Nothing to Declare’ was shortlisted for the Ada Cambridge Prose Prize 2019. Her dark thriller A Legacy of Old Gran Parks won a Raven Award in 2019. The Cabin Sessions was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award 2018 and the Ditmar Awards 2018.
Isobel holds a PhD in Western Esotericism from the University of Western Sydney for her ground-breaking study of the texts of Theosophist Alice A. Bailey. Her engagement with Alice Bailey’s life and works has culminated in the biographical novel The Unlikely Occultist and the full biography Alice A. Bailey: Life and Legacy.
Isobel carries a lifelong passion for the Canary Islands, Spain, her former home. Six of her novels are set on the islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. These standalone mystery novels are setting rich and fall into the broad genre of travel fiction.
Isobel has led a rich and interesting life and her stories are as diverse as her experiences, the highs and lows, and the dramas. A life-long campaigner for social justice, Isobel has written, protested and leant her weight to a range of issues including asylum seekers and family violence. A Londoner originally, Isobel currently lives in the Canary Islands, Spain.