A Brush with Shadows
In July 1831, Sebastian Gage has come home to Langstone Manor in Scotland. Surrounding his home are beautiful and bleak moors and bogs, in which one could die during the frequently changing weather conditions. Upon his return from Ireland with his new wife, Kiera, Gage finds that his grandfather, the Viscount Tavistock, is gravely ill and his cousin, Alfred, has been missing for several weeks.
Mysteries galore fill this dark and gloomy home, and Gage has nothing but sad and angry thoughts about it. Kiera can’t figure out if cousin Roland Trevelyan is friend or foe. Also feeding fuel to the fire of concern is a woman described as a “viperous” aunt, a woman who provides herbal remedies which earns her the name of “witch,” a father who practically hated Gage, the unexplained deaths by poisoning of three family members, and some incorrigible servants who may just be playing pranks on Kiera or be part of a murderous plot. Add to the mess a bevy of superstitious beliefs that are conveyed among the villagers as curses or the work of pixies. A rebellion against those using threshing machines is beginning to grow, which only contributes more to the suspicions that rarely subside.
All in all, despite being rather dragged out in scope, A Brush with Shadows is a suspenseful gothic mystery in which a dying man and others with malign desires seek to thwart the mission Gage and Kiera now fully embrace. A good read, but with little historical context.