Book Review: The Revenant of Thraxton Hall by Vaughn Entwistle

17934486Title: The Revenant of Thraxton Hall

Author: Vaughn Entwistle

Genre: Paranormal Mystery, Historical Fiction

Rating:  3 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Arthur Conan Doyle has just killed off Sherlock Holmes in “The Final Problem,” and he immediately becomes one of the most hated men in London. So when he is contacted by a medium “of some renown” and asked to investigate a murder, he jumps at the chance to get out of the city. The only thing is that the murder hasn’t happened yet—the medium, one Hope Thraxton, has foreseen that her death will occur at the third séance of a meeting of the Society for Psychical Research at her manor house in the English countryside.

Along for the ride is Conan Doyle’s good friend Oscar Wilde, and together they work to narrow down the list of suspects, which includes a mysterious foreign Count, a levitating magician, and an irritable old woman with a “familiar.” Meanwhile, Conan Doyle is enchanted by the plight of the capricious Hope Thraxton, who may or may not have a more complicated back-story than it first appears. As Conan Doyle and Wilde participate in séances and consider the possible motives of the assembled group, the clock ticks ever closer to Hope’s murder, in The Revenant of Thraxton Hall by Vaughn Entwistle.

The Revenant of Thraxton Hall initially captured my interest because it features Arthur Conan Doyle as the main character. If you don’t know who he is, then you’ve probably either lived under a rock for the past century, or you’re just no fan of mysteries. Arthur Conan Doyle is the author of the Sherlock Holmes books, only the greatest detective the world has ever known. Another notable character in the book is Oscar Wilde – Picture of Dorian Gray, anyone? Give me two famous authors fighting paranormal mayhem together, and I’m hooked.

Unfortunately, the book was a bit of a let-down. It started out way too slow. By the time we get to Thraxton Hall, where the real action begins, we’re already one hundred pages into the book (or around that number, I didn’t check). To shortly recap the story, Arthur Conan Doyle gets a message from a medium who asks him to help her solve a murder. Except it’s a murder yet to happen, and it’s her own murder. Conan Doyle refuses at first, but then changes his mind, and drags Oscar Wilde along on an adventure of a lifetime, to the first ever meeting of a secret society interested in the supernatural. They’re meeting at Thraxton Hall, a famous gothic manor with plenty of secrets to hide.

If it weren’t for how the first half of the book was so excruciatingly slow, I would’ve really liked this book. It has an awesome premise, and heck, what’s not to like about two famous authors fighting the supernatural? But like I said, it starts off slow. All suspense is drained by the time we actually get to the suspense part. And then there’s Oscar Wilde. He’s portrayed here as a person who can’t make up his mind. He’s a stereotype, a cliché, too over the top to be real. Arthur Conan Doyle acts and behaves like a real person, but Wilde doesn’t.

Other things that annoyed me: the constant use of long, complicated sentences and words just to make the book sound Victorian. It was a good idea to make the book sound Victorian given the time and setting, but this was the main reason why the narrative dragged so much for the first part of the book. And how Arthur Conan Doyle is constantly referred to as Conan Doyle. Not Arthur. Not Doyle. Conan Doyle. This distanced me from the main character, and made it difficult for me to feel any connection to him.

All in all, a good read if you like paranormal mysteries and/or if you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes. It could use some work though, and be warned, you’ll have to bite through the first tediously long chapters if you want to get to the good part.

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