Parting the Veil
Parting the Veil, a debut novel by Paulette Kennedy, is a gothic-noir psychological thriller. Well-written, the novel admirably recalls Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and Henry James’s Portrait of a Lady. Its spunky, unconventional heroine Eliza Sullivan leaves behind a traumatic past in New Orleans to make a fresh start in 1899 Victorian England. Accompanied by her level-headed half-sister, Lydia Tourant, Eliza takes possession of an inherited mansion in a hamlet outside London. It just happens to be next door to an enormous manor owned by Malcolm Winfield, Viscount Havenwood. The Havenwood ancestral mansion—half ornately impressive and half-burned and dilapidated—functions as a two-faced symbol of sinister secrets to be unearthed among the decadent aristocracy. The puzzle of double identities and motives provides subtext and drives the plot, adding contradictions to keep the reader guessing.
What kept me involved were the twists and gradually revealed back stories of the characters. In this well-plotted novel, Eliza must sift through discrepancies and inexplicable rumors to figure out the source of family dysfunction. Romance figures vividly, as Eliza struggles to understand the many contradictions of the man to whom she’s attracted. Both haunted (yes, there’s a supernatural element) and haunting, Havenwood Manor hides dark surprises that beg to be explored. The intrepid Eliza must part the musty veil of mystery to see what’s behind the stone façade.