When Jen goes to her grandmother's house for the last time, she's determined not to dwell on the past.
As a child, Jen adored Lily and suspected she might be a witch; but the spell was broken long ago, and now her death means there won't be any reconciliation.Lily's gone, but the enchantments she wove and the secrets she kept still remain.
In Lily's house, Jen and her daughter Marianne reluctantly confront the secrets of the past and present - and discover how dangerous we become when we're trying to protect the ones we love.
Lily's House by Cassandra Parkin was published by Legend Press on 15 October 2016 and is the author's third novel. Her previous books; The Summer We All Ran Away (August 2013) and The Beach Hut (May 2015) are also available from Legend Press.
There is something very special about an author who can conjure up so much beauty in their writing whilst dealing with some of the darkest and most depressing of subjects. Cassandra Parkin has done it though, she's done it so incredibly well and the hidden secrets that are gradually uncovered feel so much more horrific as they are smothered in her hauntingly poetic words.
Jenn and her daughter Marianne have travelled to Lily's House. Lily was Jenn's beloved Grandmother, her rock during childhood, her defender during adolescence, but a stranger during adulthood. Lily has died and her house and the contents now belong to Jenn. As Jenn sifts through Lily's belongings, she also sifts through her memories. She hears Lily's voice clearly, she remembers, she discovers and she makes huge decisions.
There are details of Jenn's life that are slowly revealed to the reader, and whilst I guessed almost
immediately why Jenn and her husband Daniel only converse via text messaging, it is a clever way to expose their relationship to the reader. Although, the finer complexities of their marriage are not uncovered until towards the end of the story, and may make the reader totally re-evaluate their feelings towards the characters.
There are ghosts and mysteries and memories that have been buried for many years. Lily's neighbour, James Moon features heavily in this story. He's a closed character at first, who gradually opens his heart, first to young Marianne and then to Jenn. There are discoveries that shock and relationships that are confirmed.
The plot of Lily's House is tightly formed and surprising, nothing and nobody are quite what they seem. Cassandra Parkin's use of descriptive prose is spectacular, the house comes alive, the reader can almost see the memories floating around, waiting to be let free, and to change the whole story.
Parkin's characters evoke a range of emotions for the reader. We judge, we change our minds, we reconsider and we realise as each one gradually peels away their protective layer and allows us in, to see the truth and the hurt and, hopefully, the future.
Lily's House is a beautiful, original story that entranced me from page one. Cassandra Parkin picks her words so carefully and has created characters that the reader will come to love.
My thanks to Legend Press who sent my copy for review and invited me to take part in the Blog Tour.
Cassandra Parkin grew up in Hull, and now lives in East Yorkshire. Her short story collection, New World Fairy Tales (Salt Publishing, 2011), won the 2011 Scott Prize for Short Stories.
Her work has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies.
Lily's House is her third novel
Visit Cassandra at cassandraperkin.wordpress.com
Follow her on Twitter @cassandrajaneuk