Stephanie Lam's stunning debut novel, The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House, is a gripping read laced with mystery, secrets and love.
The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House is one of those cleverly controlled dual time novels which draw you into both times frames and very quickly the narrative starts to work its magic.
The book starts in 1965 when eighteen year old Rosie Churchill escapes to the seaside town of Helmstone and takes refuge in Castaway House, but this is a house with troubles and very soon Rosie gets drawn into the mystery of the past. Back in the 1920s, Castaway House is a very different place and the devastating charm of the wealthy owners, Alec Bray and his wife beautiful wife, Clara will have dramatic consequences on their young visitor, Robert Carver.
Gradually, and with great skill, the authors brings Castaway House to life, and as the two stories start to intertwine long buried secrets start to emerge. I thought the narrative was really well controlled, and both time frames were nicely developed so that neither one outshone the other. The decadence of the 1920s is nicely contrasted against the slightly run down seedier atmosphere of the 1960s.
This is an exciting debut novel from an author who shows much promise. It will be interesting to see what she writes next.
My thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Books UK for the opportunity to read this book.