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‘The Splendour Falls’: The Best of Light Mystery

Jami Citko, Staff

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History. Romance. Friendship. Secrets. Hidden treasure, suspicious figures, and a foreign land. Combined, these elements form a story of mystery and intrigue, a winding tale full of suspense. These elements can be found in Susanna Kearsley’s novel The Splendour Falls. 

The novel begins with a prologue consisting of an anecdote from the eleventh century in Chinon, France, though the majority of the story will take place in 1995 Chinon. An aura of mystery and suspense regarding Chinon is already established, perfectly foreshadowing the events to come. 

The main story follows protagonist Emily Braden as she accepts her cousin Harry’s invitation to vacation in Chinon, something which she normally would not have agreed to but figures she deserves a vacation. She arrives alone, as Harry appears to be running late, and checks into her room at the Hotel de France. 

Emily meets quite a few interesting characters at the hotel, including a mysterious violinist, a distasteful gossip, her much more composed husband, and two comical brothers from Canada. The hotel becomes a center plot point, acting as a home base for the main characters and a catalyst in their relationships. 

Interesting characters are also introduced outside of the hotel, including the owner of the local vineyard, a flirtatious and classy man who seems to take a liking to Emily, and his ex-sister-in-law, a recent widower with a mysterious background. Often times characters are what make a story great, and Kearsley has certainly accomplished this. Every character has a unique personality and each contribute differently to the overall plot, providing for an enjoyable and entertaining read. 

Though all of these amusing side characters make up the basis for a great story, the main character must contribute to this as well. Emily is portrayed as morally good and logical. Though she repeatedly tells herself that, since her parents’ divorce, she has given up on achieving that “fairytale ending” she used to dream of, she allows the mysterious land of Chinon to transform her throughout the story, and by the end sees the world in a new light. She experiences human emotions in a very realistic way, making her relatable, which allows the reader to form a strong connection with the story. 

The story itself is mainly overarching suspense. It starts off slow and continues to move slowly, however intrigue builds within the reader as it continues. The reader simply must know what happens next, and despite the lack of action it is enough to make one stick around until the end. From my experience, it is undoubtedly worth it. The story only gets better as it goes on, unraveling a riveting tale that will have the reader on the edge of their seat by the end, and it is not unsatisfying. I would definitely recommend it for anyone who enjoys a good mystery fueled by the emotions and resulting actions of people. 

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‘The Splendour Falls’: The Best of Light Mystery