Victoria Holt was one of those authors I loved as a child, and it wasn’t until I was nearly grown up that I realized that she, and Jean Plaidy, and Philippa Carr, were actually all noms-de-plume of the same person, Eleanor Hibbert (1906-1993).
Recently, I picked up a novel I had not read before, THE TIME OF THE HUNTER’S MOON written under the name of Victoria Holt, as it is a gothic romance. And what a creepy book it is. I haven’t felt unsettled for such a long time, not since I read Diana Gabaldon’s OUTLANDER 15 years ago. The creepy young man who appears in a forest in Switzerland in the first part was making it difficult for me to get to sleep! Subsequently, I stayed up until 3 am this morning, because I just couldn’t put it down.
Of course, one could argue that the plot is predictable, that it is the familiar tale of a beautiful young woman sought after by three young men, who has the puzzle of sorting out which one would make the best husband. But Victoria Holt is so good at creating atmosphere and plot twists that it doesn’t matter. Of course, it is a cliche that abbey ruins encourage young women to imagine all sorts of things. Jane Austen had great fun sending that up in NORTHANGER ABBEY. But what is so wonderful about this novel is that there really is something to worry about. It’s just not what you think it is. Five stars.