Book Review: The Edge Of Dark by Pamela Hartshorne

A dark and twisted tale exploring the haunted relationship beween past and present, for fans of Kate Mosse and Barbara Erskine

Jane believes in keeping her promises, but a deathbed vow sets her on a twisting path of deceit and joy that takes her from the dark secrets of Holmwood House in York to the sign of the golden lily in London’s Mincing Lane. Getting what you want, Jane discovers, comes at a price. For the child that she longed for, the child she promised to love and to keep safe, turns out to be a darker spirit than she could ever have imagined. Over four centuries later, Roz Acclam remembers nothing of the fire that killed her familyโ€”or of the brother who set it. Trying on a beautiful Elizabethan necklace found in the newly restored Holmwood House triggers disturbing memories of the past at lastโ€”but the past Roz remembers is not her own. (from

Published by Pan Macmillan March 2015 (PB) (UK)

I love stories that switch between time periods, particularly ones that merge past and present. Sadly, I haven’t read any of Pamela Hartshorne’s previous work, but after reading The Edge Of Dark this is something I intend to correct as soon as possible.

The Edge of Dark follows the story of Roz, who has just moved to York to work on the grand opening of Holmwood House to the public. But on entering the Elizabethan mansion, Roz is instantly unsettled. When she tries on a beautiful necklace from the era she is suddenly transported through vivid visions to the life of Jane, 400 years previously. In unravelling the disturbing secrets of Jane’s life, Roz finds her own past entangled between the dark and sinister secrets. It’s a past she doesn’t even remember, and one she isn’t sure she really wants to.

Pamela Hartshorne combines two complex and sinister lives with tangible threads spanning the 400 year period between her two main protagonists. I loved how she made neither Roz or Jane’s stories of greater importance, both being utterly compelling in their own right. Often in books which have a timeslip element,you find one era dominating, usually the historical one and thus more interesting to read. In this case I enjoyed both characters equally and wasn’t disappointed to leave either when the narrative switched.

And oh, how well that narrative was switched! Not on a chapter by chapter basis, the two eras and characters blended effortlessly mid-page…sometimes even mid sentence, giving a beautiful seamless and fluid feel to the whole book. I’m awestruck at how the author managed this without ever causing confusion.

With richly evocative depictions of Jane’s life in the sixteenth century, I loved how the historical period was brought to life. Coupled with the creepy atmosphere of the present Holmwood House and some dark, vengeful characters haunting both Jane and Roz, The Edge Of Dark is a deliciously compulsive read. I became so completely engrossed in this book, the world around me disappeared along with several hours of my day. I loved this book, and would highly recommend it to fans of historical fiction and timeslip novels. It’s one of my personal favourites now from the selection I have read.

I read the Hardback edition courtesy of the publishers

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