THE AUTHOR: Deborah Scott
THE GENRE: Young Adult, Gothic, Historical Fiction.
“Rebecca Bailey, a girl of intrepid spirit but humble station, finds herself thrust into the gentry class of Victorian England when her widowed mother marries a wealthy businessman. At a posh boarding school, she finds an immediate kinship with Alice Wadington, a young lady of fine family. On a school holiday to Alice’s home Bell Manor, Rebecca meets members of the Wadington family, including Alice’s quiet, handsome older brother Jason, who captivates Rebecca’s young heart despite his impending engagement to a spoiled rich girl. Enchanted though she is, Rebecca senses discord in the Wadington family. Could the ancient bell tower that seems to cast its shadow over all their lives be the source?
After a series of incidents that take her across the Atlantic, a grown-up Rebecca returns to Bell Manor under disturbing circumstances for what she supposes will be one last visit with the Wadingtons. Little does she realize that the outcome will be beyond anything she could imagine. In short order Rebecca finds her own life imperiled before she learns several remarkable truths, some unpleasant but others very pleasant indeed as the mystery of the ominous bell tower is finally revealed.”
The Bell Tower Review
Clearly influenced by Gothic romances, The Bell Tower certainly pulls you into the mystery of the Wadington family and the enigmatic importance of their bell tower. Something sinister is at hand and Rebecca can’t help but try and discover what. As she becomes more and more embedded inside the Wadington circle, she also can’t help but fall for her best friend’s brother, Jason, a secret emotion she tells no one. Why would he ever like her after all? Not to mention, he seems almost engaged. But not everything is as it seems or so Jason warns Rebecca. Who exactly can she trust?
Scott’s writing excels in romantic subtlety.
While the beginning starts a little slow and the fluidity slightly off, once Rebecca enters the cathedral home of the Wadingtons, the narrative really falls into place and grabs your full attention. The mystery and romance are both worthwhile for a good Gothic novel and I kept reading chapter after chapter to discover just what secrets lie around the corner. The romance itself is very well done for those who love a good love story of old. Scott’s writing excels in romantic subtlety. You can feel passion without tons of kissing scenes, a look felt just as deeply in the story. The tension is palpable and undeniable, and I eagerly looked forward to their next scene.
One other strength of Scott’s skills as a writer also comes down to setting and dialogue. Descriptive passages give clear pictures into the 19th century and the places Rebecca visits. We see as Rebecca saw, especially that of the bell tower. The dialogue and language also feels authentic for the most part, Scott capturing another time with ease.
The Bell Tower, while immensely entertaining, does have a few setbacks. There are some grammatical mishaps and perhaps too many fainting spells for my liking. Moreover, the reason Rebecca visits her friend Alice’s home in the first place felt slightly contrived, such as her mother and stepfather getting called to America without her for over a year. We never understand why exactly and that didn’t really ring true. Still, overall, this is an enjoyable few hours of your time, especially for those looking for another Gothic mystery to devour.
This would work best as a film with a clear beginning, middle, and end. While not in the same league as Rebecca, a similar type adaptation would make perfect sense and has the potential to be quite an entertaining couple of hours. I know I’d go to the theater…
“Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce
me. Aren’t you?”
“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My
feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me
to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
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Note: This book was received from the author in exchange for an honest review.
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