Review Blog

Jul 14 2008

Possessing Rayne by Kate Cann

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Scholastic, 2008
(Age 12+) Rayne is a streetwise teenager living on a sink estate in London. Fed up with city life and desperate to escape her controlling boyfriend and feckless mother, she takes a job at a stately home tucked away in the countryside. However, cream teas and guided tours are not all that's on offer at the local mansion. Half told stories and peculiar happenings prove that there is a sinister side to Morton's Keep which Rayne is determined to investigate. She hooks up with the hypnotically handsome St John and his enigmatic friends, but soon finds herself sucked into a vortex of ancient crimes and new dangers as she struggles to discover the mystery behind Sir Edwin Lingwall, an eighteenth century owner of the house.

The sense of release Rayne feels on escaping the suffocating chaos of London is skilfully portrayed and the power of nature and beauty are recurring themes in this gothic horror story. The tension builds steadily towards a frightening climax played out in the dungeons of Morton's Keep. Plenty of tantalising clues are offered - a door without a handle, a pair of gloves embroidered with grotesque faces, a local mad woman burbling about fire and flood, and every plot strand is neatly resolved in a satisfying conclusion.

On the downside the quality of writing jarred at times. 'She was beginning to feel creeped out' may be 'teen speak', but struck me as literary laziness. But overall this is an exciting, well paced and satisfying read with bags of teen appeal which will no doubt have Cann's loyal fan base demanding more.
Claire Larson

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