Sunday, August 20, 2017

Book Review: End of Temperance Dare

Sharon Long joins us today to review Wendy Webb's latest novel, The End of Temperance Dare...

The End of Temperance Dare by Wendy Webb released on June 6th by Lake Union Publishing. This is her fourth standalone and she has been dubbed Queen of the Northern Gothic. She has won several awards including the Minnesota Book Award for fiction in 2011. Wendy is one of my favorite authors and I could not wait to read this book. This is a ghostly, chilling, creepy story which is perfect for braving those sizzling summer days. 
Eleanor Harper is on her way to Cliffside, the artist retreat founded by Chester Dare. The fog builds the closer they get to the grounds. In her mind, Eleanor is reliving her first trip to Cliffside 20 years ago. She was the newspaper reporter there to cover the tragic accident of Chester and his daughter, Chamoille. They had driven over the cliff during a foggy day and both died. The driver, Mr. Baines assures her they are fine. When they arrive at Cliffside, the last remaining member of the Dare family, Penelope greets her. After Eleanor receives a tour of the house, she goes to her room to fresh up before meeting Penelope to discuss her duties. While she is excited to put aside her 20-year career covering criminals and murders; Eleanor has a deep sense of foreboding and dread that she cannot seem to shake. 
Eleanor is only the third director at Cliffside, the former TB sanatorium which Chester built to house TB patients including children. Penelope explains the daily routine for the upcoming four-week session. Eleanor is to host a nightly cocktail hour with the artists and lead them in a discussion about their progress and work. Eleanor is to stay out of the way to let the artists create but be there for support. She meets Harriet who runs the household and is Mr. Baines’ wife. They both live on the grounds but in a separate house. 
Penelope retreats to her room reminding Eleanor they will meet at the customary 5:30 for cocktails before dinner. Eleanor is in the sitting room at 5:30 but after 30 minutes when Penelope does not arrive, she rings for Harriet. Harriet goes to Penelope’s room and lets out a scream. Eleanor quickly runs up to the third floor and believe her eyes. Her first day at Cliffside is quickly turning into a nightmare. From there things only get worse. Eleanor starts seeing and hearing things that cannot be real, or can they? 

This story is fast paced with great characters including Harriet, Mr. Baines, and Nate, the handsome onsite doctor. In addition, the artists each have their own quirky personalities which adds to the story. As is Wendy’s style in her earlier books, Cliffside becomes one of the characters.  I was drawn into the story at once and thoroughly enjoyed the surprising twists and turns. Wendy does a terrific job of creating an atmosphere of normal but creepy. The End of Temperance Dare is eerie and bone-chilling. This is one of the best books I have read this year. I am anxiously awaiting the next gothic novel from Wendy Webb. 

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