Reviewed by Jenni Cahill
Melissa Grantham has never visited her ancestral home, Ashleigh Manor, due to a family rift years ago. The current occupant is her great aunt Dorothy, whom Melissa has never met. Melissa is invited to stay at Ashleigh for the weekend and when she arrives she feels a strange sense of déjà vu, as though she has been there before and knows the house well. Once inside, Melissa is overwhelmed by smells and emotions from long ago. During her weekend at Ashleigh, Melissa dreams of Sibell, a young widow who lived at the manor house during the 15th century, and Sir Roger, a medieval knight. The dreams are vivid and remain with Melissa even after she leaves Ashleigh.
Melissa returns to Ashleigh to stay with her great aunt and the dreams intensify. She begins to hear voices and sees the ghostly image of the knight from her dreams. He asks for her help but before she is able to, Melissa must find out more about Roger and discover why he has been unable to move on from Ashleigh for over 600 years.
The Silent Touch of Shadows is two love stories rolled into one. While Melissa unravels the tragic story of Sibell and Roger, she meets Jake, the local vet who lives in a nearby cottage. Jake has also been disturbed by vivid dreams and is strangely drawn to Melissa.
When I received The Silent Touch of Shadows, the cover intrigued me. The book was atmospheric before I’d even read one word with the cover’s shadowy tree and figure set against the turquoise background and silver swirls. My interest was grabbed further by the acknowledgements, which state the story is based on a real house and a real ghost. I couldn’t wait to delve into the pages and discover what mysteries lurked within.
Having never read a Christina Courtenay novel before, I wasn’t sure what to expect but what I found was a wonderful book full of romance, tragedy and intrigue. I found myself looking forward to Sibell’s scenes the most, itching to discover what happened with her and Roger and why he couldn’t rest. I had no prior knowledge of Sibell’s time period but it didn’t matter as everything was explained without feeling like I was taking part in a history lesson. The historic details and descriptions were perfect, blending seamlessly into the story.
The Silent Touch of Shadows is published by Choc Lit and is out on 7 July.