I’m always on the hunt for a good Gothic novel: spooky atmosphere, drafty old house, strange happenings, and all wrapped into a rich, riveting story. All of this, please. The White Hare by Jane Johnson meets this desire incredibly well, and has a fall release date, to boot! Reading The White Hare just as the temperature began to dip at the tail end of summer was a wonderful addition to the book’s atmosphere, and I suggest you find a way to enhance the coziness and spooky atmosphere around you when you inevitably read this great story.
It is 1954, and Mila and her mother Magdalena have purchased a house in White Cove in Cornwall. Magda is filled with plans to turn it into a hotel, while Mila’s merely an accessory to her plans; Mila is reeling from the end of her marriage and while she isn’t thrilled about her mother’s ideas or even living with her mother in such a remote place, she has nowhere else to go. Rounding out their family is Janey, Mila’s five-year-old daughter. Janey is sensitive, sweet, and extremely attached to Rabbit, her stuffed animals she claims can hear things.
The house is directly on the beach and needs some fixing up, but the real problem with it becomes immediately apparent once Magda, Mila, and Janey arrived: it has some sort of secret, sordid past that the nearby villagers hint at but refuse to explain outright. Also working against the family is the perception that they are outsiders: not only did they come to Cornwall from London, but Magda and Mila immigrated to England from Poland. And finally, things start happening at the house. They see a strange white hare as they drive in, but then stranger things start happening: noises in the house, items going missing or reappearing in strange places, the continued inexplicable presence of Jack Lord, a man-of-all-trades who seems to belong to the house; and Janey’s increasingly odd behaviour.
Johnson’s novel is an enchanting, strange, troubling and ultimately magical novel. I was completely absorbed by her prose and the tale she was telling: these three women, their neighbours and new friends, the house which seems to be cursed, and the wild land around them. I devoured The White Hare much faster than I thought I would, enjoying it in a way I haven’t enjoyed too many books since I was a child, racing to go read it between meals and chores, letting the world disappear while reading it. This was a wholly immersive book, and I loved it. It’s a throwback to the Gothic novel, it is incredibly compelling, and it blends traditional Cornish stories and symbols into a modern telling. An excellent choice for a fall read this year, a book which is truly suited to this time of the year.
About the Author
Jane Johnson is a novelist, historian, and publisher. She is the UK editor for many bestselling authors, including George R.R. Martin. She has written for both adults and children, including the bestselling novel The Tenth Gift. Writing under the pen name Jude Fisher, she wrote the companion books to Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movie trilogies. Jane is married to a Berber chef she met while climbing in Morocco. She divides her time between London, Cornwall, and the Anti-Atlas Mountains. Connect with her on Twitter @JaneJohnsonBakr, on Instagram @JaneJohnsonBakrim, or visit her website at JaneJohnsonBooks.com.
- Publisher : Simon & Schuster (Oct. 4 2022)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 400 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1982140933
- ISBN-13 : 978-1982140939
Alison Manley bounced around the Maritimes before landing in Miramichi, NB, where she works as a hospital librarian. She has an honours BA in political science and English from St. Francis Xavier University, and a Master of Library and Information Studies from Dalhousie University. When she's not reading biomedical research for her work, she likes reading poetry, contemporary and historical fiction, and personal essays. Noted for a love of bright colours (and lipstick), you can find her wandering the banks of the Miramichi River with a book and a paintbrush.