The Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore. Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House. 2009. Review copy from publisher.
The Plot: Sylvie Davis's dreams of a ballet career ended when she broke her leg during a performance. While her mother is away on her honeymoon, Sylvie gets sent to stay with Aunt Paula, a relative she's never met, to stay at the family home in Alabama, a place she's never been.
Sylvie Davis discovers that the Davis family has roots in Alabama. An old, large home. A history going back generations. People who think they know her because she is a Davis. There are even stories of ghosts: a running girl, a Confederate Colonel. Sylvie thinks they are just stories, until strange things start happening to her and around her.
Who is she? Who can she trust? What is going on? Is she going mad, or is magic real?
The Good: You know all those Barbara Michaels books you go looking for? Young girl, old family home, dueling love interests, with the three s's: setting, suspense, supernatural? And when they're done, you wonder what to read next?
The Splendor Falls. Pick it up and enjoy every delicious page. A worthy heir to traditional Gothic Supernatural Suspense tales.
Sylvie's father's home town is fictitious, but it is by a real ghost town that is used in the story, Old Cahawba, Alabama. Another place I've read about in a book that I now want to visit!
I love the whole discovering family storyline. Sylvie's father, now dead, left home and never looked back. While there are various reasons given for his move to Manhattan, Sylvie considers that one reason may be the dense family history, including the legacy of slavery. Sylvie, because of the distance of growing up in Manhattan, is ignorant of her family history so does not feel overly romantic towards it. Which is why her semi-visions, the cold spots in the hallway, the unexpected smell of lilacs seems so strange.
There is a love triangle, between Sylvie, Shawn Maddox (the Maddoxes and Davises are the two oldest families in town) and Rhys Griffith, a Welsh student staying at her Aunt Paula's almost-open Bed & Breakfast. Sylvie feels drawn to both Shawn and Rhys. Love triangles in romance books (especially Gothic romances) are standard, expected, welcomed. Who is the real nice guy? Who has a secret agenda? Why does Sylvie feel drawn to both Shawn and Rhys?
Also good? Sylvie's lost dreams. A person who pursues one dream has that dream taken away. Now what? A new location, new people helps her open up to new possibilities.
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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy