What could be better as we near Halloween than a story about an old English country mansion with secrets? And dead bodies? I present Ashton Hall, by Lauren Belfer.
Hannah Larson and her son Nicky leaves the states to come to Cambridge, England, where a much-loved relative is reaching the final stages of his life in his family home of Ashton Hall. Hannah recently was betrayed by her husband, and needs to get away. She has left her job as a historic researcher to raise Nicky, is not a typical child. He is extraordinarily bright and precocious, but has severe anger issues. Though the author never says, he is probably on the spectrum.
One day Nicky arises early and begins exploring Ashton House, even so far as going in an area that had been walled off and unused for many years. There, Nicky discovers the remains of what turns out to be a woman dead for many centuries.
Hannah, along with her intelligent and likable son, undertake efforts to learn the story of the woman in the mysterious room. As her marriage continues to crumble, Hannah begins to piece together the story of the woman, and of Ashton Hall itself.
I loved this book. It was atmospheric without being gory or scary. Hannah’s efforts to raise her oh-so-lovable but oh-so-difficult son opened this reader’s eye to what it’s like to have a child with exceptional abilities. There is a romantic element that is neither sappy or unbelievable.
I highly recommend Ashton Hall.