The House on March Lane
Candy Jar Books
This is a book for a cosy evening when you nestle in the corner of a plump sofa, with your favourite mug of cocoa. As the evening settles, you open The House on March Lane and step into young Harriet’s world. It is 1836 and you are excited for Harriet who awaits her returning Papa.
The time shifts to present day and the glories of the reclamation and salvage yard and warehouse. A breath of the supernatural sends shivers early on but modern day teen Flora is dismissive. We meet Flora’s friend Archie, whose back story is tragic, but whose stoicism is credible and instantly admirable. Briscombe is not afraid to create characters with edge or indeed narrative with threat and these are features we see more of as the plot thickens.
Allusions to Darwin’s voyages and potential finds create a sense of authenticity (I feel compelled to see if Darwin did find this… – but I won’t spoil it!) and the author does not hold back with some very brutal details. But overall there is a good deal of gentleness to the story and the reader will feel affection for both the historic characters and the present day. The shifts continue for much of the book, but the more you read, the more convincing the settings and the mystery contained within them become. Michelle Briscombe weaves the characters in and through time and place, object and friendships. The ghostliness of the warehouse certainly had me on tenterhooks!
This novel is a successful mystery. The young teen detectives from both eras are rounded enough to make you root for them. They make some huge mistakes sometimes with dire consequences, but their investigations are plausible and readers from 10 up will be pleased to read the next in the series. I for one, am now keen to visit my local reclamation centre to search through the tiles and see whether objects really do harbour spirits!