From the publisher—
The fall of 1957 was a seemingly idyllic, even prosperous, time down in southern Virginia. A young housewife, Charlotte Bliss, lives with her husband, “Press” Bliss, and their two young children, Eva Grace and Michael, in the gorgeous Bliss family home. On the surface, theirs seems a calm, picturesque life, but soon tragedy befalls them: four deaths, with seemingly simple explanations.
But nothing is simple if Bliss House is involved.
Charlotte, nearly crippled with grief, feels more and more isolated from everyone around her. The only thing that brings her solace is going through the old photos and curiosities left behind by her mother-in-law. Then she makes a startling discovery that points not to tragedy, but to murder. How far will Charlotte go to discover the truth? And how far will she get without knowing who her real enemy is?
Not for the faint of heart, or those disturbed by sexual situations and violence, Charlotte‘s Story injects new levels of horror into the classic Southern gothic.
When I was first offered the opportunity to review Charlotte’s Story, I jumped right on it. I was unfamiliar with Laura Benedict or the first book in the trilogy, Bliss House, but I was immediately captivated by the notion that the setting for the house in question is Virginia, my home state. I’m happy to report that I wasn’t disappointed 😉
Melding a ghost story with a mystery and a far-reaching, torturous family dynamic is pretty much the essence of a Southern gothic and Ms. Benedict does this quite well. Almost from the first page, there’s an aura of creepiness rather than fright and, as the word indicates, the feeling creeps up on the reader more and more as time goes on till you find yourself mired in a sense of doom and total sympathy for Charlotte, a woman being driven to madness. There’s also a lot of sadness here, not only with multiple deaths but also in the downward spiral of love and trust.
I did feel that the story is too slow to develop and I put the book down a couple of times. Still, I couldn’t just walk away from it and I’m glad I stuck with it. The pace does pick up and, long before I reached the very unexpected ending, I was madly turning pages to see what would happen next. Appropriately, Ms. Benedict left me wishing the third book, The Abandoned Heart, was ready to read but, alas, I’ll have to wait a while.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2015.
About the Author
Laura Benedict is the author of Charlotte‘s Story and Bliss House, the first two novels in the Bliss House trilogy, as well as several other novels of dark suspense. Her work has appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and numerous anthologies. She lives with her family in Southern Illinois. Visit laurabenedict.com.
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Leave a comment below to enter
the drawing for a print or ebook
copy, winner’s choice, of the first
novel in the trilogy, Bliss House by
Laura Benedict. The winning name
will be drawn on Saturday evening,
November 21st. Print is open to residents
of the US, ebook is open internationally.
“Expertly paced revelations help build a sense of encroaching horror.
A satisfyingly creepy tale for a rainy night.”—Publishers Weekly
“An evocative, frightening and flawless gothic, Charlotte’s Story
is guaranteed to send a delicious chill down your spine. Nobody
does more for the modern southern gothic than Laura Benedict.”
—J.T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author of What Lies Behind
“Laura Benedict spins an ever-shifting web of shadow and light.
A thrilling read. Benedict writes with passion and authority.
Charlotte‘s Story is not to be missed.” —Carolyn Haines, author
of the Sarah Booth Delaney mysteries, and The Seeker