Friday, May 9, 2008

His Wicked Sins by Eve Silver

An Advance Review


He promises to charm you...

In the quiet hamlet of Yorkshire, the hallowed halls of Burndale School stand ... and evil lurks in its dark corners. For a serial killer with a proclivity for blonde women has struck again - this time, murdering two of its teachers. Now everyone is wondering when the killer will seek his next victim...

Seduce you...

Elizabeth Canham has accepted a teaching position at the local boarding school in Yorkshire. But her quiet life takes a surprising turn when she meets Griffin Fairfax - the handsome father of one of her pupils. His mesmerizing stare quickly draws her in, and she can't deny the fierce attraction between them...

And then kill you...

Griffin Fairfax appears to be a doting father and gentleman. But one disturbing truth lies at the heart of the murders - all of the victims were intimately connected to him. When Elizabeth discovers this, she wonders if it's a mere coincidence or if Griffin could be a charming, seductive killer so many women have lost their hearts and lives to...


My first thought upon finishing this book was that the author had put a lot of thought and hard work, if not herself, into this story. From the densely-worded prose to the multi-layered story line, the attention to detail is very much evident. Having read every Eve Silver gothic novel, I will rank this as my second favourite story, after Dark Desires.

The story opens in 1813, London. The rookie parish constable, Henry Pugh, is investigating a grisly multiple-murder at the Black Swan Tavern. The scene is bloody, explicit and ghastly, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

In the following chapter, the story moves on to 1828, Yorkshire. The destitute Elizabeth is on her way to Burndale Academy, a boarding school for girls, where she has accepted a teaching position. Before she even sets foot in the school, she meets Griffin, the father of one of the students. She feels an immediate affinity towards him, which later develops into deep longing and love, even as she hears damning rumours of his purported sinister deeds, one of which is that he had killed his wife. Their love story is sensuous, despite the few intimate scenes.

Meanwhile, a young woman is declared missing, presumed murdered. As this recurring tragedy causes great distress in the Yorkshire countryside, Elizabeth struggles to acclimatize herself to the new way of life – one that is made more testing by the ominous feeling that she is being watched constantly – and the people she interacts with daily seem to harbour shady motives. On top of these, there’s a sense of foreboding that the killer will strike again very soon.

The story moves back and forth between 1813 and 1828, from Pugh’s investigation of the multiple-murder, to Elizabeth’s unsettling tenure at Burndale Academy. It is narrated in the third person point-of-view, offering the reader the thoughts of most of the characters, including the murderer’s. However, there is no doubt this is Elizabeth’s story.

This story is dark, intense and intricate. Dark and intense because the gothic mood and atmosphere are vividly put across, hence one feels the heavy ominous secrecy that permeates the entire story. There is a lot of blood and the grisly murder scenes are somewhat graphically depicted. Intricate because the story moves back and forth fifteen years, and all the seemingly unrelated events and characters of the two time periods eventually come together to give us believable answers. I will say here that I was rather pleased when I couldn’t guess who the murderer was – it was nice to be surprised. *grin* I did think two pertinent questions were not answered adequately – perhaps I should take them up to the author?

(Update: I asked Eve the two questions that were plaguing me, and she pointed me to the subtle clues that I had missed. Now that my mind's finally at ease, I can move on to the next book. *grin*)

I liked almost everything about this story. My only ambivalence was the prose. On the one hand, I was impressed by its verbosity …

“Yes, here I am,” Beth observed dryly in response. “Sleeping in the same bed that once held Miss Stillwell and Miss Brodie-Stuart.” Then throwing caution to the wind, she sacrificed any pretext at politesse. “What pleasure you take in the grisly sonata you sing, Miss Doyle, each note designed to elicit both fear and dread. In truth, you have brought such dissertation to the level of art.”


… on the other, I felt that it made the story a bit tedious. Also, I thought the characters tend to dwell too long in internal monologue, which made some parts of the story sluggish.


His Wicked Sins will be available in August 2008.


My rating4
Sensuality ratingWarm


8 comments:

Melanie said...

Awesome review J! I can't wait to get my hands on this book.

Katie(babs) said...

I have this book and still have to read it. I love Eve's historicals :D

Brie said...

Great review, Jace.

The prose you gave an example of reminds me a little of Emily Bronte's. Funny because she lived during the time period that that His Wicked Sin's takes place. So if it's looked at as art imitating life during that time period, then the verbosity makes sense.

Do I make sense? :P

Anyway, I'm interested in reading this book now.

Jace said...

M ~ I think you will enjoy this book. :)

Katie ~ I'd love to know what you think of it. ;)

Brie ~ Did you mean Bronte's Wuthering Heights? I'm sure, if Eve was staying true to the prose of that time, it would read like that. :)

You haven't read any of Eve's historicals?

Kristie (J) said...

Hmmm - I lover her books written by Eve Kenin and I have some Eve Silver books in the TBR pile. Looks like I'll have to get them out and read/ready for this one.

Jace said...

Kristie, Eve has successfully developed distinct and separate voices for her Silver and Kenin stories, so one wouldn't guess they came from the same author. :)

If you have Eve's debut historical gothic, Dark Desires, I'd suggest that you read it first. It was the 1st book of hers that I read, and it remains till today my absolute favourite.

Brie said...

Yes, Wuthering Heights.

I haven't read an of Eve's historicals, but I'll have to look into them now.

Jace said...

Brie, do you know that Heathcliff was/is the model and inspiration of many a gothic hero? *grin*

Wuthering Heights is said to be one of the best gothic story ever written.