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Karamour by Ariadne Pritchett
"They had found her unconscious on a lonely stretch of beach alone the Cornish Coast - a beautiful stranger cast up from the sea.  Now half out of her mind with fever and confusion, she found herself an unwilling guest in the gloomy old mansion of the mysterious Mr. Hawks whose wealth and power no one dared to defy.  Only Hanna, the superstitious housekeeper, foresaw that the girl's presence meant trouble.  'I see bad things, I see death in the fire,' she said. Hawks laughed at her.  But she was right - horribly, terribly, right..."

Copyright 1968.

I previously read this author's Mill Reef Hall, which was published in the same year.  Because I really enjoyed the first book, I was ecstatic when I found this one.  Perhaps it was my anticipation and high expectations that made this one a little disappointing.  Not to say it wasn't interesting, only that there was something lacking.  The story seemed rushed, perhaps to give it a sense of urgency.  Ms. Radcliffe, in her Gothic Novels of the Twentieth Century, called it "unadorned writing".  I would certainly agree but if there had been more adornment, the characters could have had more depth and the tension could escalate naturally.  I was especially disappointed in the ending (spoiler alert) when the heroine runs off without thinking about the children under her care.  I was led to believe she was attached to them or was that just my maternal instincts?

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