I absolutely love historical fiction and read a lot of it; I love to learn history this way. I also enjoy reading science fiction, fantasy, horror, thriller and non-fiction science.
Max Albrecht does not have a close relationship with his mother, in fact, his mother's friend Vivienne raised him most of his childhood. So, when Max receives a letter from his mother telling him that she is dying along with the hope that Max will help her uncover the mysteries behind a chilling picture, he is surprised. The picture is of his mother, Annabell and a childhood friend, Oskar. On the back, the words you knew. Max doesn't make it to his mother before her death; however, having spent an unsettling night in his childhood home in Vienna, Max decides that the picture must be looked into. The deeper Max goes, the more disturbing secrets he uncovers and the more the house seems to rebel.
This was a really interesting blend of historical fiction, mystery, thriller and a ghost story. More importantly, the fantasy aspect, while chilling and intriguing, does not detract from the rest of the story, but expertly adds depth and mystique to Max's plight. I do love a good duel time story, so this was right up my alley. The story hops back and forth from 2004 in London and Vienna to 1938 Vienna. The snippets in the past are quick and give just a glance at Annabell's life with hints of clues of what is going on so we never know much more than Max. At first, Max seems like an ungrateful son, but as he figures out his mother's past his character as well as Annabel's is explained. Oskar was the most surprising character for me, another mystery to unravel, but I loved his gentle and easygoing demeanor. Overall, the mystery building was well done continually throwing me in different directions and the suspense is tightly woven all the way through. The ending threw me for a huge curveball, also. This is not a story where everything is tied up all nicely, the chilling ending definitely places this book squarely in the thriller category.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.