Rating: 5 out of 5
Beverley Lee’s horror/paranormal novel The Ruin of Delicate Things is absolutely fascinating. Dan Morgan and his wife Faye recently lost their son, Toby. Dan just inherited a cottage from his Aunt Lucinda and thinks that going back to the town he spent summers in as a kid might help the two of them to reconnect. Lucinda’s caveat for Dan owning the cottage was that he never sell it. Once they arrive, things get a bit strange. Aunt Lucinda’s solicitor, Albert Jenkins, is a tad odd. The people in the village clearly don’t want Dan and Faye there. Dan starts to realize that he’s forgotten something, and that something bad happened that caused him to stop visiting Lucinda. When Faye is forced by a storm to enter the abandoned Barrington Hall, something takes an interest in her. And Dan is going to have to fight hard to keep what remains of his family together.
This is a fascinating story. There’s something unusual living in the woods that surround the cabin, and it doesn’t like people. Dan is a hard character to like, but engaging enough to want to see what happens to him and his wife. Their marriage is coming apart at the seams, and neither of them is handling it particularly well. In fact, there are very few “likable” characters in this story. Everyone has ulterior motives, or is hiding a terrible past, or doesn’t like outsiders, etc.
There are a lot of secrets hidden in the woods and in nearby Barrington Hall, and those secrets don’t like people. There are different gradations of evil and harm. There are mysterious creatures and an all-too-human evil. There are ghosts and other supernatural beings. There’s fascinating history. There are past trespasses and harms. The book has a building sense of danger about it, and it’s unlikely that all will end well.
In its own way, this is a story about respect, and what happens when you don’t respect others, respect rules, and respect the past. There’s a lot of originality in how things unfold, and it’s a fascinating tale.
Content note: animal harm/death (in some detail) and child death.
If you entered Barrington Hall, you never left alone.