" A curse that is born in blood! Know that your name will shrivel and die, that your brood shall know no rest."
Since that time no male Malenfer has been able to live out a full life. Now, in the midst of World War I, Arthur Malenfer finds himself trapped within a tunnel with Dermot Ward. Arthur and Dermot claw their way out, only to enter a siege. Arthur is shot, and Dermot stays by his side to the end; knowing that he may not make it, Arthur divulges a secret to Dermot that may help his family now that one more Malenfer male is dying.
After being discharged, Dermot finds his way to Paris and drowns himself in absinthe. He thinks he sees his dead friend Arthur lurking about. Arthur has returned to make sure Dermot tells his family the secret he has kept. Dermot finds his way to Malenfer Manor to find himself implanted with a two widowed Malenfers and the young and beautiful Simonne Malenfer who are all grieving the death of Arthur's brother, the youngest Malenfer. Dermot must decide how to tell his ghostly friend;s secret and see if he can find out the reality of the curse.
This was a great historical mystery with a paranormal twist. It is not simply about a curse, but about the tragedies of war, the mistakes of our past, greed and romance. As a ghost, Arthur Malenfer was my favorite character. Through flashbacks of the War, we get to know him while he was alive, but after he passes, he has a clear purpose and deals with being a ghost in a humorous way. "Arthur found that his education and experience had prepared him very poorly for life in the afterlife. He knew very little about being a ghost." Dermot's character also grew on me, we meet him as a drunk, but we get to know his courageous efforts in the War and his determination to carry out his promise to Arthur (even though he is a ghost). All of Dermot's reactions through his quite unbelievable experiences are great and in the end, he manages to be the only one to see things as they really are. I also enjoyed the writing style, I found this novel to be fast-paced and gripping. Even though there were a lot of different elements going on in the story, I was not lost or confused. The descriptions were also fantastic, I loved Dermot's first impression of Malenfer Manor: " The house was grand because it shrank you. Inside its walls you were pressed and squeezed and made a little smaller. The place was somehow diminishing, and in so doing it became that much larger."
This was a solid read for me that included that right mix of elements to make in interesting and unique.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.