In 1910, eleven-year-old Iris Villarca lives with her father at Rawblood, a lonely house on Dartmoor.
Iris and her father are the last of their name. The Villarcas always die young, bloodily. Iris believes it's because of a congenital disease which means she must isolate herself from the world.
But one sunlit autumn day, beside her mother's grave, she forces the truth from her father: the disease is biologically impossible. A lie to cover a darker secret.
The Villarcas are haunted, through the generations, by her. She is white, skeletal, covered with scars. When a Villarca marries, when they love, when they have a child - she comes, and death follows.
When Iris is fifteen, she breaks her promise to remain alone all her life, and the consequences are immediate and horrific.
©2015 Catriona Ward (P)2015 Orion Publishing Group
Rawblood reminds me of Woman in Black - it has the same kind of menacing presence haunting the protagonist, but I don't think I've ever read/listened to another book quite like this. The non-linear narrative makes it challenging to follow but it's very much worth the effort.
The narrators drew me into the story and characters in a way that only a human voice can. There are scenes that I think would have felt merely melodramatic in print, but that the audible narration brought to life, making the tragedy of Iris's life seem real.
The story builds toward a climax that I never saw coming. Toward the end I began to suspect the origin of the ghost/curse. When the reveal comes, it's like a dam bursting, a torrent and there are so many emotions one after the other it's almost disorienting. You wouldn't get that effect in print, where you can pause for a moment or put the book aside.
It is a challenging read - the story takes place in multiple time periods, overlapping and twisted together. It's not a book to listen to while driving or doing something else you need to concentrate on: you'd miss important details. But if you have a long flight or commute, it's perfect.
I really wanted to like this book, it sounded so interesting but it was very choppy, the plot and characters were all over the place. A bit confusing and overlong.
Some of it was a bit tedious to be honest. I listened to it in large chunks but found myself not very engaged with the story.
No, I thought Victoria Fox particularly tried to act the story rather than tell it. The language does that. I found her narration very irritating. Peter Kenny was much better.
A very promising story but I found it ultimately disappointing.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.