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Summary

Feminist gothic fiction set between the late 19th century and the early 20th century - an era of burgeoning spiritualism and the suffragette movement - that couldn't be more relevant today. 

England, 1925. Louisa Drew lost her husband in the First World War and her six-year-old twin sons in the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. Newly remarried to a war-traumatised husband and seven months pregnant, Louisa is asked by her employer to travel to Clewer Hall in Sussex, where she is to photograph the contents of the house for auction. 

She learns Clewer Hall was host to an infamous séance in 1896, and that the lady of the house has asked those who gathered back then to come together once more to recreate the evening. When a mysterious child appears on the grounds, Louisa finds herself compelled to investigate and becomes embroiled in the strange happenings of the house. Gradually, she unravels the long-held secrets of the inhabitants and what really happened 30 years before...and discovers her own fate is entwined with that of Clewer Hall's. 

An exquisitely crafted and compelling mystery that invites the listener into the crumbling Clewer Hall to help unlock its secrets alongside the unforgettable Louisa Drew. 

For fans of The Silent Companions, The Little Stranger and The Familiars.

©2020 Rhiannon Ward (P)2020 Orion Publishing Group

What listeners say about The Quickening

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Alright

Narration was a little monotone. Story lacked sparkle and was fairly predicable. It was okay but nothing Earth shattering.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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OK but not great and the narration was too fast.

I think I'd have enjoyed this more if I'd read it. The narration was too quick and even after setting it to a slower speed which helped, I didn't feel the reader made an emotional connection to it. It lacked the usual nuances of good reading. As such it's hard to really review the book itself. I have read work of a similar nature and I would say it didn't quite live up to the best ones but was still a good story well written, with some lovely twists and turns. I didn't feel quite fully transported to the time and place, especially the time. Some more historic details would have helped. It was hard to work out when the story was set until the end.

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Overall lovely narration and great story

My only criticism is very small and written with a smile, please could someone let Katherine know how to pronounce ‘rifling’. It is ‘rifling’ to rhyme with ‘trifling’ not to rhyme with ‘whiffling’, it was so hard to not laugh which broke the tension of the story for me somewhat…😊😊

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Good but not quite great

I enjoyed this book a lot at the beginning and end but it did sag a bit in the middle and I almost stopped.

It was well written and I enjoyed it, it was a good example of gothic horror I’d say, up there in terms of story with Laura Purcell, I just wish it had been edited down a bit in the middle.

Great performance on the audiobook and I look forward to the next book by the author.

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Unfulfilling

3.5 Stars

1. If you could sum up ‘The Quickening’ by Rhiannon Ward in 3 words, what would they be?

Sluggish, transparent and leaden (as in hue).

2. How credible/believable did you find the narrator/s to be?

Initially the tone of Katherine Press’s voice came across as impassioned and monotonous - however, in time I felt that it was well suited to the dismal/grim atmosphere that the novel tends to exude.

3. Any additional comments:

In part I found the storyline transparent and therefore it sadly fell short of my expectations. However, I did enjoy Rhiannon Ward’s literary style - it was aptly descriptive, at times affective and effortless - this I deeply appreciate. A short passage that I found memorable was “....the edges of grief begin to blunt....” - time assists with this, I’m sure many of us can relate. I also welcomed Louisa and George’s “lack of regard for convention”. Overall, this novel is very listenable.

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Much ado about nothing

On the face of it, and judging by the synopsis, I had great hopes of this book. However, I found it utterly, utterly tedious and persevered through it in the hope something exciting would finally happen. There was a medium, a seance, mysterious piano playing and a small child living on the estate, but this was the sum total excitement and just when I thought something would happen, it just didn’t. I persevered to the end and I was reminded of the occasion when I took my granddaughter to watch her favourite film “Annie” as a stage play at the theatre. ‘Live theatre’ I thought ‘what an exciting moment for the child’. As we left the theatre I said to her “and what did you like best Olivia?” “The end” said she. And this is how I feel about this book....the end was by far the very best bit.

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Well read but marred by mispronounced words

I really enjoyed this melancholy story. It followed various well trodden paths but was enjoyable nonetheless, with good plot and pacing. I liked the tone of Katherine Press’s narration, but was really disappointed by some mispronunciations - ‘rifling’ is not pronounced as ‘riffling’ and lichen is pronounced ‘liken’. Anyway, these may seem minor quibbles but a producer/editor would or should have spotted these.

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  • Mark D
  • 22-08-20

Bad audio

The story itself wasn't bad but the sound quality is awful. Sounded like it was recorded in a closet. Other than that it's a typical modern day attempt at Victorian gothic. The usual spiritualist and post great war losses.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Dana Rampi-Cruz
  • 01-12-21

Fun and Interesting

This book kept me interested and focused but I did struggle a little with the plots predictable nature. Even so, I'm glad I listened. The performer was a little quiet for my taste when in the main character role but her flexibility and range of other voices was great. Overall a decent listen.