Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Review Tuesday: "The Visitant: A Venetian Ghost Story" by Megan Chance

Hello all!

I know it has been many months since my last post and I hope you will forgive me. There have been many changes at Casa Wilson including a new job and a move to Charleston, SC so things have been a tad bit crazy.

Despite being busy, I have managed to fit in a few good books, so I'll be posting reviews in the coming weeks. Today, however, I bring you my review of The Visitant by Megan Chance. I was a big fan of An Inconvenient Wife which Chance published a few years ago, so I was eager to read this one when it was offered for review through the Historical Novel Society. Chance really excels at creating flawed characters--it's a talent that many authors don't even attempt to master.

The Visitant: A Venetian Ghost Story follows a disgraced Elena Spira to Venice in 1884 as she seeks to redeem her family. She carries many secrets with her, and must work to keep them hidden as she attends the ailing Samuel Farber. She has been tasked with keeping his secret safe, and nursing him to health so that he may return to America for an arranged marriage. He proves to be a truculent patient, and Elena must fight him and the dark forces residing in the crumbling Casa Basilio, all while evading the alluring stares of the casa’s owner, Nero Basilio.

Megan Chance is one of the few accomplished historical fiction writers specializing in Gothic novels. The Visitant evokes everything that is wonderful in the genre: secretive characters, an old house, and of course, ghosts and demons. In many ways it echoes Henry James’ Turn of the Screw. Chance excels at drawing the reader into the plot without giving much away, which leaves one guessing right up to the end. She also has created wonderfully nuanced characters in this novel. Elena, Samuel, and Nero all at times seem despicable, and yet they evoke sympathy. Elena is riddled with guilt over her past decisions and yet she longs to set free to live life as she sees fit. Yet she becomes embroiled in an ill-advised romantic relationship with Nero, who is all charm and deception. It is heartbreaking to see her realize the truth only to discover that she has given her heart away to the wrong person yet again.

The Visitant will keep you reading and guessing to the very end. I definitely recommend this one--curl up with a glass of wine (or in my case, a glass of whiskey) and prepare to be enthralled.

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