The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Room Beyond by Stephanie Elmas

Publisher:  Banstead House Publishing
Release Date:  September 29, 2013
Pages:  300
The Room Beyond by Stephanie Elmas
About the Book:  When Serena begins a new life working for the Hartreve family at 36 Marguerite Avenue she falls in love, not just with its eccentric and alluring inhabitants and their world, but with the house itself. Number 36 is a beautiful Victorian London mansion that has remained in the family for generations. Serena feels that by being here she has escaped the ghosts of her own sad childhood and found a true home, but she soon discovers that behind its gleaming surfaces Marguerite Avenue is plagued by secrets and mystery. Why does such a beautiful tranquil street seem sometimes to shimmer with menace? Is everyone in the family quite who they appear to be? And just what is it that the family is trying to hide from her?

It is 1892. On a hot summer night scented with jasmine, Miranda Whitestone hosts a dinner party at 34 Marguerite Avenue. Watching helplessly as her husband is seduced by her glamorous neighbour Lucinda Eden, she can have no idea of the consequences the evening will have. 

For the history of Marguerite Avenue is more chilling than Serena could have imagined, and the fates of two women - the beautiful renegade Lucinda and the 'good wife' Miranda - will reach out from the past to cast a shadow over Serena's own future.

The Room Beyond is a thriller that delves beneath the romance and grandeur of a London house and finds a family haunted by the legacy of past wrongdoings. As the suspense grows and the fog thickens, will Serena be able to give up all that she has come to love? Will she ever escape?  

Wanda's Review:  Romance, dark drama, paranormal happenings, and mystery are all elements in this well written story. The author definitely has a unique style of her own. The tempo picks up early on as the past-1890s London-and the present are cleverly blended together in alternating chapters to reveal dark and mysterious secrets. 

Serena's story - present time - Serena becomes a nanny for Beth, a grand-daughter of the peculiar Hartreve family in London. She immediately falls in love with the Victorian mansion at 36 Marguerite Ave, a house laced with deep dark secrets. Serena is told that she was able to see things that she shouldn't. She finds it strange that number 34 Marguerite Ave is missing. Why had Edward and Arabella Hartreve fed Serena two different stories about the missing number 34? 

1892-London- Tristan and Miranda Whitestone are hosting a dinner party at 34 Marguerite Ave. Miranda, my favorite character, is a woman that displays strength and courage, but grapples with the evils in her life. She is married to Tristan, a despicable man , who shows insolent behavior, but at times he is fueled with charm. Tristan is attracted to Lucinda Eden, a next door neighbor and dinner guest.  He is amused with her dining room antics as she throws transparent and seductive advances towards him. Lucinda is strong willed, the apple of her father's eye, and quite beautiful. Soon Tristan and Lucinda begin an affair that sets the stage for the next 100 years. And the story unfolds ---

There is a wide cast of eccentric and complex characters ---

Walter Balanchine, with a soft effeminate London slur, is a rather peculiar East End Victorian mystic. An early devotee to the art of hypnosis and the act of disappearance. Sebastian (Seb) White - a character shrouded in mystery. Seb is a friend of the Hartreve family. He doesn't work and refuses to be questioned about anything. Eva Hartreve was one of the three Hartreve children. She was young, barely out of her teens, and the mother of Beth. And Beth - A lovable 4 year old, is mature beyond her years, and a small eccentric in the making. She is quite unusual, but very sensitive and special. Alfonso Eden -another eccentric - is married to Lucinda Eden, but leaves her for a dancer.

With a cast of characters you'll absolutely love and an intricate plot, Stephanie Elmas has certainly crafted a thought provoking novel and one that I would recommend. My rating is 4 stars. 
I received a complimentary copy from NetGalley for an honest review of this book. Other reviews are posted on and Twitter @ghmstudio.

About the Author:  


Stephanie Elmas was born in Hong Kong to an English father and Czech mother but spent most of her childhood in Bristol. She studied English at university in London. She has worked as a head hunter, taught English in Japan and returned to university to complete a Masters in Victorian fiction. It was here that she developed her interest in the dark dangerous world of Victorian sensation writing. Stephanie now lives in a chaotic house in Surrey with her husband and three highly energetic but wonderful children.