A Bliss House Novel, Book #2
By Laura Benedict
Author’s website: www.Laurabenedict.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
The fall of 1957 in southern Virginia was a seemingly idyllic, even prosperous time. A young housewife, Charlotte Bliss, lives with her husband, Hasbrouck Preston “Press” Bliss, and their two young children, Eva Grace and Michael, in the gorgeous Bliss family home. On the surface, theirs seems a calm, picturesque life, but soon tragedy befalls them: four tragic deaths, with apparently simple explanations.
But nothing is simple if Bliss House is involved. How far will Charlotte go to discover the truth? And how far will she get without knowing who her real enemy is? Though Bliss House may promise to give its inhabitants what they want, it never gives them exactly what they expect.
Charlotte’s Story is a dark, gothic tale full of ghosts and secrets. It is a chilling thrill for fans of the genre.
Charlotte Bliss’s life changes in an instant on lovely October day when, after indulging in champagne, she wakes from a nap to find that her young daughter Eva has drowned in the bathtub. Of course it is not her fault, her husband Press tells her. But, in the days and weeks after Eva’s death Press’s attitude and behavior changes to the point that Charlotte barely recognizes him. What had on the surface appeared to be a perfect life quickly reveals itself to be a twisted sham. With Charlotte’s mother-in-law’s death two months prior and Eva’s accident as a catalyst, their ancestral home Bliss House “awakens” to reveal its tragic secrets.
When Olivia died, she left all of her possessions to Charlotte. What starts out as the chore of cleaning things out soon becomes somewhat of an obsession for Charlotte. She begins to have ghostly visions of Olivia, and what she discovers is shocking. Eva also makes her presence known, and her appearance leaves Charlotte questioning the circumstances of her death. She starts to doubt her own sanity and fears for her son Michael’s safety. Once you are a resident of Bliss House, you belong to it.
Laura Benedict weaves a sufficiently creepy tale in Charlotte’s Story, though I did not find it particularly “scary”. What seems like an idyllic picture of Southern high society on the surface is really a totally demented and corrupt reality. Charlotte is a typical 1950’s housewife, naïve in her view of the world. I questioned her sanity right along with her. There is no end to the evil of which her friends and family are capable. The final revelations about Eva’s death and the true nature of Press’s theater group came as a surprise. This is definitely not a group I want to hang out with.
The writing is strong, and the pace of the novel is good. I kept reading because I had to know what happened next and discover the truth. It is not action packed but builds in suspense throughout. Benedict did an admirable job creating dimensional characters, including the house itself, that were truly despicable. I worried for Charlotte and Michael. Charlotte’s Story is the second book in the Bliss House series, but the books can be read in any order without spoiling anything. I enjoyed it, especially during the Halloween season, but it not for the faint of heart. I recommend it to fans of gothic suspense and ghosts.