The Revenant of Thraxton Hall by Vaughn Entwistle is a unique, entertaining romp through an alternative history set in Victorian-era England. The Strand is still in publication, Bram Stoker manages the Royal Lyceum Theater, and the Society for Psychical Research is in its nascent stage. The game is afoot as Arthur Conon Doyle, the creator of the much beloved Sherlock Holmes stories, sets out to solve a mystery of his own. Accompanied by his friend Oscar Wilde, whose over the top personality and quick wit provides ample comic relief, Doyle travels to a mysterious manor owned by an even more mysterious young woman in a curious quest to prevent a murder before it happens. Along the way they meet a variety of colorful characters ranging from the famed medium Daniel Dunglas Home to a fez-wearing familiar, and the plot inevitably thickens as Doyle and Wilde get closer to the time and place where the murder is supposed to occur.
Combining mystery and suspense with a sprinkling of humor and a dash of romance (as well as a dollop of the paranormal for good measure), Entwistle tells an entertaining, engaging tale in vivid prose with apt description. While the story is, of course, completely fictitious, the author portrays the time period with historical accuracy, brining Victorian-era England back to life on the pages of the book. To put it into the words of Oscar Wilde’s character, the story is truly a “mind-ripping spectacle that will leave you both confounded and astonished.” While the plot is at times preposterous, the quality of the writing and the liveliness of the story allow readers to easily suspend their disbelief in the interest of simply enjoying a good tale. This light, fun novel effortlessly blends fact with fiction to produce what is, overall, a highly enjoyable read.
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