August 15, 2016

Book Review: Lord of the Far Island by Victoria Holt

The past is never far behind.…

Ellen Kellaway, orphaned at age five, was raised by wealthy cousins, but was never allowed to forget that her every advantage was owed to the charity of others. However, when the son of a powerful London family asks for her hand in marriage, her world is opened up to untold wealth and social position. She never imagined that such an unlikely dream would come true.

Despite these wonderful new developments in her life, Ellen continues to be wracked b the bad dreams that have haunted her since childhood. What is the meaning of the lifelong nightmare—the image of an unfamiliar room, a door opening and behind it a dreadful presence? Perhaps it is a message urging her to uncover the secrets of her long-lost family—the secrets of the ancient home of the Kellaways on the Far Island, off the wild coast of Cornwall.

I had been in a reading slump for a few weeks, discarding books left and right for a slew of reasons.  Actually, only one reason – I just could not get into any of them.  So one afternoon, I decided to go to my local used bookstore and found three treasures, one of which was a rather battered hardcover of Lord of the Far Island by Victoria Holt.  I reached for this automatically, knowing that whatever reading ailment has seized me, Holt will cure.

Victoria Holt holds a very special place in my heart as Queen of the Gothic Historical Romances.  I’ve only ever been acquainted with her novels through thrift stores and bargain bin boxes, with ancient covers and yellowed pages. But each one (barring the ones published after her death and written under her name) is a pleasurable and satisfying experience of giving me exactly what I want. 

And what exactly does a Victoria Holt novel deliver?  There is a formula; however, the formula is so well-executed that I don’t mind. I know what I’m going to get and that’s why she’s one of my go-to authors.  The formula is quite alive in Lord of the Far Island. We have a strong heroine who’s smart, lively, and adventurous. She comes from impoverished circumstances – or so she thinks – and has little-to-no prospects as compared to the well-to-do.  Until – a shocking event triggers a monumental change in her life.  Enter the handsome but dangerous hero(?) with whom our heroine is powerfully attracted to, far more than the obviously nice guy in her orbit. There is a mystery, which our heroine spends the rest of the novel trying to solve, as well as trying to figure out if the dangerous man is truly evil or just misunderstood.

Formulaic?  Yes.  Boring? No.  Lord of the Far Island hooked me immediately and gave me a proper Victoria Holt experience.  Satisfying to the last page.

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