Monday, October 15, 2012

Oxford Whispers by Marion Croslydon

A painting with haunting powers, a murderous ghost seeking revenge. Madison LeBon is dead set against the dead. She has vowed to ignore her Voodoo-stamped heritage and the psychic gift passed down through her Louisiana family. The world of the living is where she wants to belong. But her resolution shatters when the ill-fated lovers in a painting - the subject of her first history class at Oxford - begin to haunt her. The lovers warn her against their own nemesis, a Puritan from the English Civil War. In misty present-day Oxford, Madison embarks on a quest to unravel the secrets of the past and understand her personal bond with the painting. To protect herself, she must learn to accept her gift before life imitates art, in all its tragedy. College becomes more complicated when she falls hard for Rupert Vance, a troubled aristocrat and descendant of one of the characters in the painting. With the spirit of a murderer in hot pursuit, Madison comes to realize that her own first love may be doomed.

This story is aimed at a Young Adult audience, and the writing is geared well to that genre. It opens with the description of a painting, 'The Wounded Cavalier' by William Shakespeare Burton, a Victorian Romantic artist.  Madison LeBon, a post graduate from Louisiana studying history at Oxford University is not only entranced by the characters in the painting, an injured Royalist, a compassionate girl Puritan and a judgmental male Puritan who watches from a slight distance, she is obsessed by it.

When she is offered a research job by her tutor, she jumps at is as it gives her a chance to find out if the painting was done from life with real characters. Characters who visit her dreams and waking hours with messages, and longings she does not understand. Throw into the mix a party girl friend, Pippa and an aristocratic would-be boyfriend, Rupert Vance, and the scene is set for ancient mystery and modern romance.

Madison apparently possesses ‘powers’, passed down through the women in her family, and vaguely connected to voodoo. She has little control over how or where these flashbacks into another time take place, and as they grow stronger, and more menacing, her fears grow. She confides in her tutor, who seems to understand these powers and encourages her to learn to control them – which rang alarm bells for me right there.

The story is colourful and kept my interest throughout, though at I got confused about where and when I was supposed to be as the characters jump in and out of their time with little warning. However the story the Puritan, her Cavalier love and the jealous rival is one which endures.

Anita Davison is a Historical Fiction Author whose latest release, ‘Royalist Rebel’ a biographical novel set in 17th Century England, is being released by Claymore Books in early 2013 under the name Anita Seymour


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