Today, I have a REVIEW as well as author Loretta Marion graciously providing a GUEST POST about why she chose Cape Cod as the setting for her new book.
Genre: Supernatural Mystery
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: November 13, 2018
Why I chose Cape Cod as the setting for HOUSE OF ASHES
The first summer my husband and I were invited to our friends’ summer cottage in Eastham on Cape Cod, I imagined it would be a fun beach getaway. However, I’d not been prepared for love at first sight. Two decades have passed since that first visit and my love affair has only intensified, especially now that I’ve chosen to set my Haunted Bluffs mystery series on the Cape.
My decision to create the fictional town of Whale Rock as the setting for HOUSE OF ASHES, was so I could spend more time on the Cape, even if only in my imaginary world of words. I was touched when one of my beta readers wrote to me and said, “I now want to live in Whale Rock.“ There are few greater compliments she could have given me, for when I created Whale Rock in my mind and in my writing, it was in hopes that readers would see it as a place they too might wish to live.
When I’m writing a story, I look upon the village itself as one of the characters and take extra care in creating the book’s setting. My hope is to give it a unique and appealing atmosphere where one could envision themselves settling in for a few hours each day as they read the story.
I must admit, it wasn’t difficult to find inspiration, for the Cape offers it up in heaps with its great natural beauty. And this humble writer is only one of a multitude of artistic types who have found their muse come alive there. In the 1800’s Henry David Thoreau described the nearby Outer Beach this way: “A man may stand there and put all America behind him.” I can’t argue with his sentiments. When I’m there I can forget about the rest of the world for a bit and readily crawl into the imaginary writer’s space in my mind.
The Outer Beach is also where naturalist writer Henry Beston claimed refuge. In the 1920’s he designed a beach cottage atop a dune overlooking the open Atlantic which he called Fo’castle because it gave him the feeling of being aboard a ship. (For the nautically disinclined, forecastle is any sailor quarters located in the forward part of a vessel.) There Beston, one of the fathers of the modern environmental movement, gathered experiences for his book, THE OUTERMOST HOUSE, which was a motivating factor behind the preservation of the Cape Cod seashore. Fortunately, his writings influenced many conservationists: “Touch the earth, love the earth, her plains, her valleys, her hills, and her seas; rest your spirit in her solitary places. For the gifts of life are the earth’s and they are given to all…”
The Cape Cod National Seashore was established by President Kennedy as a measure to protect the increasingly popular area from over population and erosion. This national treasure encompasses nearly 40 miles of protected shoreline extending along the Atlantic-facing outer Cape, with pristine sandy beaches and dunes, salt marshes, ponds, woodlands and cliffs as evidence of the success of this preservation enactment. Beston’s Outermost House stood until 1978, when Fo’castle was claimed by the raging seas of a ferocious winter Nor’easter storm. Though the house is no longer there, it is still a must to trek out to Coast Guard Beach for the impressive views of the Atlantic and to watch for the bobbing heads of seals. The trail to the ocean winds through woodlands where one might spot a fox darting across the path and past the large glacial erratic known as Doane Rock before opening to marshes alive with wading birds, butterflies and dragonflies.
To quote Beston again, “The seas are the heart’s blood of the earth.” And indeed, what I find most enchanting is the ever-changing seascape of Cape Cod Bay. With a west facing cottage we are witness to the dramatic tidal range of the bay, transforming the vista every few moments and rewarding us with breathtaking sunsets, strikingly different between the extreme low and high tides. It also makes for interesting beach walking among the tidal flats and pools scattered about at low tide, with the ebbing waters leaving their mark in uniquely beautiful striations in the sand. It’s a shame to disrupt Mother Nature’s art with our toes, but she’ll leave yet another fingerprint in the sand at the next low tide. And as the tide rises, the rhythm of the advancing water becomes a powerfully soothing hypnotic, especially at night as the lapping waves lull us to sleep.
Unspoiled beauty, flora and fauna, a rich historic heritage—the Cape offers more than I could hope for in a tranquil beach getaway. The moment that Eastham Windmill comes into sight, my heart leaps knowing I’m just moments away from my lovely, peaceful Cape Cod writing retreat.
From the book’s haunting cover design to the intriguing synopsis, I was instantly captivated and could not wait to delve into this one. Now after having spent an enchanting adventure along the Cape, I cannot wait to see where this series takes me next!
From the opening chapter to the final sentence, I was completely immersed in this intensely atmospheric story made even more so by the fact that I read it during the Halloween season. It’s been quite a while since I’ve been so completely awestruck after the first chapter alone! Read it and you’ll quickly understand why it will be so hard to put down afterwards!
Generations collide in this incredibly nuanced mystery that seeks to discover the secrets behind a family’s paranormal history and the current disappearance of two missing people. The story unfolds from both past and present perspectives, which the author is able to seamlessly interweave to create a truly poignant narrative. The addition of journal entries and the sleuthing itself make this story even more multilayered and engaging. This isn’t a twisting thrill ride, but rather a slowburning untying of knots that reveals a satisfying end.
Overall, there is a little of everything for a lot of different readers to enjoy. From history and romance to mystery and the supernatural, Battersea Bluffs has so much to offer.