First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Like a witch’s lair in a fairytale the ancient manor house crouches in its tangled garden.  I can’t take my eyes off the ivy-choked window above the front door.  It was from that window in 1913 that 16-year-old Maud Stearne watched her father set off down the steps with an ice-pick, a geological hammer – and murder in his heart.

Any ideas?

This is on my #20ReadsofSummer, and it’s getting close to the top of this group.  Goodreads synopsis:

1906: A large manor house, Wake’s End, sits on the edge of a bleak Fen, just outside the town of Wakenhyrst. It is the home of Edmund Stearn and his family – a historian, scholar and land-owner, he’s an upstanding member of the local community. But all is not well at Wake’s End. Edmund dominates his family tyrannically, in particular daughter Maud. When Maud’s mother dies in childbirth and she’s left alone with her strict, disciplinarian father, Maud’s isolation drives her to her father’s study, where she happens upon his diary.

During a walk through the local church yard, Edmund spots an eye in the undergrowth. His terror is only briefly abated when he discovers It’s actually a painting, a ‘doom’, taken from the church. It’s horrifying in its depiction of hell, and Edmund wants nothing more to do with it despite his historical significance. But the doom keeps returning to his mind. The stench of the Fen permeates the house, even with the windows closed. And when he lies awake at night, he hears a scratching sound – like claws on the wooden floor…

Wakenhyrst is a terrifying ghost story, an atmospheric slice of gothic, a brilliant exploration of the boundaries between the real and the supernatural, and a descent into the mind of a psychopath.

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