One dark and rainy night, Sir James Monmouth returns to London after years spent travelling alone.
Intent on uncovering the secrets of his childhood hero, the mysterious Conrad Vane, he begins to investigate Vane’s life, but he finds himself warned off at every turn.
Before long he realises he is being followed too. A pale, thin boy is haunting his every step but every time he tries to confront the boy he disappears. And what of the chilling scream and desperate sobbing only he can hear?
His quest leads him eventually to the old lady of Kittiscar Hall, where he discovers something far more terrible at work than he could ever have imagined.
There is nothing like a ghost story for this time of year, with the nights now darker earlier and the cold, foggy, mornings (at least in my part of the world). And, as far as ghost stories go, there is nothing quite like one written by Susan Hill. The Mist in the Mirror is no exception. It is a simple tale, spookily told, and one you can imagine being told late at night around a fire and with a glass of whisky in your hand.
The Mist in the Mirror is actually a story within a story, with a young solicitor being given a manuscript by Sir James Monmouth which he then finds himself sitting up all night reading. It is written by Sir James himself. In it, he tells about his experiences when he first moved back to England after years of living abroad. Now back, and determined to settle down, he decides to occupy his time by researching and writing a book on the man who inspired him to travel – Conrad Vane.
Everywhere he looks, though, everyone he asks for helps tries to deter him. Conrad Vane is not the hero figure Sir James initially thought. Still, he is determined, especially when he finds a link to his own family, a family he knows nothing about as he was orphaned at age 5. Even the ghostly figure of a boy will not stop him, nor the weeping child he can hear in the night but never find. It all adds up to the perfect setting for a ghost story and, from pretty much the first page, I had chills.
Chills are exactly what you want in a ghost story, not gore. You want bumps in the night and mysterious sittings of strange figures, unexplained noises and feelings of dread. Susan Hill gives you all these and more with a great twist in the tale that lets you know whatever evil was haunting Sir James lives on. Told in the first person, and in the style of the period, I was drawn in quickly and ended up staying up late to finish this one (it’s not a long book, more a novella) and would recommend it for anyone in the market for a spooky Halloween read. Liked this one a lot.