Friday 8 June 2012

Love Notes from Vinegar House

Love Notes from Vinegar House Love Notes from Vinegar House by Karen Tayleur (black dog books)
PB RRP $18.95
ISBN 978142032191
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

This well-crafted and compelling mystery incorporates family secrets, misunderstandings, teenage dilemmas and a ghostly presence. It is told in first person narrative by Freya, who speaks directly to the reader; a device that works extremely well with this style of writing. 

Freya’s parents have gone to visit her ailing Nanna and Freya must go and stay at Grandma Kramer’s house close to the sea where all the family gatherings have taken place throughout her lifetime. Unfortunately her bossy and manipulative cousin Rumer is also staying there. Since childhood, no love has been lost between the two girls for Freya uncovered Rumer’s failings early. Since then they have merely tolerated one another for the sake of common courtesy within the family circle.

Freya’s long, close friendship with Luke is on the rocks because of a Facebook prank.  His interest seems to have turned to the attractive and flirty Rumer. He has also turned up to work in the garden at Grandma Kramer’s house and Freya’s agony at seeing him interested in her awful cousin, churns inside her like the rough sea that surrounds them. Quite out of character, Freya finds herself taking notes left under Rumer’s door supposedly from Luke. These lead to an even more disturbing discovery which is linked to the mystery the house holds tightly to within its walls.

But the old house holds more secrets than anyone is prepared to talk about and is said to be haunted. But by whom and why?  During her stay there, Freya starts to notice that the bath tub fills with water by itself. There are sounds which have no logical explanation. The lights in the house stay on during a power blackout and the attic is always kept locked and out of bounds.

Freya is also troubled by the fact that nobody ever talks about Rumer’s mother, especially Rumer herself. Even crabby Grandma Kramer keeps quiet about her daughter. She is determined to find answers at any cost. This search brings about astonishing results and closure for more than one person.

This is a moving story that weaves through many sub-stories and plaits themes together beautifully. It is a book will be read in one sitting for there’s no putting it down once you start.

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