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On the Night of the Seventh Moon by Victoria Holt
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1860: Helena Trant is eighteen when on a school outing in Germany's Black Forest she is lost in the mist and found by an intriguing German nobleman. They marry secretly, but after a few blissful days Helena awakens at her cousins' house and is told that she has been unconscious after being criminally assaulted and that she has imagined the whole marriage. She became pregnant, but is told the child died at birth. She returns to England. Nine years later a visitor from Germany lures her back to the Black Forest to become the English teacher to the illegimate children of the Count. Will Helena finally learn the truth about what happened to her all these years ago?

The story is told in first person, so we must rely on Helena herself to give us clues as to what's going on. These clues are very obvious and the reader must be amazed that Helena herself never caught on. What about the coincidence that twice visitors from the Black Forest turn up at Helena's house in Oxford? And why was Helena so gullible at eighteen, not asking enough questions of either her husband or her cousins. She could easily have learned the family relations of the Count. She notices the housekeeper's secretive ways, but never really wonders about them. Attempts are made on little Fritzi's life, but she doesn't wonder by whom.
Our hero is at fault as well. Helena: "Why didn't you tell me who you were?" Maximilian: "I had to keep it secret, even from you, until I had made my arrangements." Trust issues, anyone?
There is not really a mystery as to who the bad guy is. He's just there one moment, does his bad thing right away and gets thwarted. Before that he wasn't really in the picture, which is one of the perks of a good gothic: several usual suspects and you can't tell which one of them is lying.

It seems like Victoria Holt was on autopilot for this book. She concocted a nice little story, but didn't think it through enough, thus leaving incongruancies and irregularities. However, the book is saved by her magnificent storytelling abilities. The reader is transported away to this fictional world and believes every word she is told. It isn't until when the book is done and the reader mulls it over, that she realizes its weaknesses.

So all in all, it was a nice read, which deserves a 7 out of 10.
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