Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com
Noelle has been reading Beyond The Yew Tree by Rachel J. Walkley
I loved the Women of Heachley Hall, so I jumped at the chance to read another mystery by Rachel Walkley. I enjoyed this one just as much, probably because I like books with women protagonists, and especially if they are a little flawed.
For Beyond the Yew Tree, the author has created Laura Naylor, who has been called for jury duty and who reluctantly shows up on the appointed day. Having been on juries, I immediately related to the descriptions of the process, the jurors, and Laura’s experience. In this case, the man on the stand is accused of defrauding a charity for the blind.
It all seems very mundane, as is Laura’s life, until she begins to hear a hissing sound in the courtroom, one that no one else hears. At the same time she begins to have recurring nightmares of a Victorian jail and a suffering woman somehow connected to it. Laura thinks it’s related to the fact the court is actually within the walls of an old castle, which also houses an ancient prison and an equally old cemetery, where people who had been executed or died in prison were buried.
The author cleverly compounds Laura’s growing misery with anxiety of another sort: her Italian, live-in boyfriend, Marco, left suddenly for Italy because of an unexplained family matter, and his communication with her has dried up.
When the hisses resolve into a child-like whisper, Laura is lead to the prison graveyard and a spot near an old yew tree and also to the site of a long-gone bakery, where she experiences the smell of freshly baked bread. Assistance comes in the form of Sean, the curator of the prison museum, who helps her discover that her dreams and the whisper are related to a woman hung for murder a century earlier.
I won’t say more other than the fate of the man and the child of the hanged woman converge. Will Marco ever come back? Is Sean a serious match for Laura? Who is the wretched woman and who is the child only Laura can hear? You will love following the twists and turns of this story to discover the answers!
The intertwining of history with the present is a skill of this author and one again she has made a place, in this case the castle, a character in her story. Her characters are interesting and believable, with good depth, and the descriptions of places are clear and crisp.
I recommend Beyond the Yew Tree as a satisfying and enjoyable read, especially as a diversion from world events.
In an old courtroom, a hissing voice distracts reluctant juror, Laura, and at night recurring nightmares transport her to a Victorian gaol and the company of a wretched woman. Although burdened by her own secret guilt, and struggling to form meaningful relationships, Laura isn’t one to give up easily when faced with an extraordinary situation.
The child-like whispers lead Laura to an old prison graveyard, where she teams up with enthusiastic museum curator, Sean. He believes a missing manuscript is the key to understanding her haunting dreams. But nobody knows if it actually exists.
Laura is confronted with the fate of two people – the man in the dock accused of defrauding a charity for the blind, and the restless spirit of a woman hanged over a century ago for murder.
If Sean is the companion she needs in her life, will he believe her when she realises that the two mysteries are converging around a long-forgotten child who only Laura can hear?