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Higgins, "Secrets After Dark" (reviewed by Tristi Pinkston) Options · View
Posted: Monday, January 16, 2012 1:31:17 AM

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Title: Secrets After Dark
Author: Marie Higgins
Publisher: Walnut Springs
Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance
Year Published: 2012
Number of Pages: 250
Binding: Paperback
ISBN10: n/a
ISBN13: 978-1-59992-805-0
Price: $17.99

Reviewed by Tristi Pinkston for the Association for Mormon Letters

Victoria Holt is the author who always comes to mind when I read this style of book, which I would consider a Gothic paranormal romance rather than a historical. It captures the hallmarks that make the Gothic genre what it is -- beautiful woman comes to a house filled with danger, she is warned away, but in the end, she is the one who can solve the mystery.

Hannah Forester's father was a renowned American novelist who had come to England to research an island said to contain hidden treasure. He wrote a book about his findings, which were none -- the treasure did not seem to exist. During his period of research, he made good friends with a man named Morgan Thornton and told Hannah about him, expressing his desire that these two meet and perhaps even marry. But then the novelist is murdered, and Hannah is determined to find out what happened to him.

When an invitation to Thornton Manor is extended to Hannah by Bethany, mistress of the estate, Hannah can't pass up the opportunity. She believes Morgan Thornton, her father's good friend, is the only man who knows what happened to her father, and she must speak with him. She is devastated to learn that Morgan was killed in a house fire the year before and cannot help her, but she decides to learn all she can even without his help. On the pretense of coming to the manor to meet the younger brother, Johnathan, and perhaps becoming engaged to him, she makes a plan to search Morgan's room and see if he left behind any journals or other evidence that might help her find her father's killer.

What she doesn't expect to discover is that Morgan is not only still alive, but living under the shadow of a terrible curse.

As the story unfolds, I enjoyed the plot line and the twists and turns, but I felt it all moved too quickly. I would have enjoyed seeing more details, more characterization -- and I felt that the denouement moved way too quickly, with too much information being presented all at once. I also felt that the tone of the story was inconsistent -- one moment, the language was just right for the era and genre, and other times, it was too casual, as though I was reading a contemporary book rather than a historical. That said, I did like the book, and don't mean to sound overly negative. I did feel it could have been stronger in some ways, but I enjoyed the read.

What's perhaps most interesting to me is the author herself. Her first novel was a contemporary chick lit, her second was a historical western, her third was a historical ghost story, and now we have a Gothic paranormal. I think it's great when an author can explore her many facets and not feel confined to any one particular genre, and I can't wait to see what Marie Higgins writes next.
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