I had the good fortune to meet author Laura Benedict at the 2014 Southern Festival of Books. I was so taken with her charm and easy manner that I resolved to get her book as soon as I got home. And am I glad I did. The perfect mood-setter for Halloween, Bliss House is a chilling, mesmerizing read about a troubled house. You have no idea how hard that sentence was to write without using the word "haunting". Screw it. It is haunting. The house, the story, the characters.
Rainey Adams and her daughter, Ariel are the survivors of a freak explosion that left Rainey a widow, and Ariel a very wounded half-orphan. To help heal emotionally and physically, Rainey moves them to the old family manse in Old Gate, Virginia. Like any creepy semi-abandoned house, the stories run rampant about murders, hauntings and strange happenings in the lovely old pile. Despite misgivings, Rainey plows ahead revamping the old place and they are soon meeting the locals. She is concerned about Ariel, for many reasons, but the girl loves the house, and soon shows signs of healing physically.
Unfortunately, she also shows signs of a paranormal problem. A murder in the house leaves Rainey and Ariel vulnerable and uneasy. As well they should be. Not the house, nor the locals are what they seem to be. The girls are taken under the broad and manly wing of a local contractor who, like the rest of the neighborhood, realizes that all is Not Well at Bliss House.
I won't ruin the rest of the story, but I have to commend the author. The characters are very sympathetic...all are wounded in one way or another, yet very believable and easy to root for. The tension is superbly kept up right until the end...actually after the end, since we are left open for a sequel concerning the house. Ms. Benedict has a very deft hand at keeping us spooked and curious.
I am looking forward to the next installment (please tell me it is a series!).
Highly recommended for that Halloween read!