Review of The Bell Tower By Sarah Rayne (Nell West #6) – 4 Stars

The Bell Tower: A Haunted House Mystery (Nell West/Michael Flint, #6)The Bell Tower: A Haunted House Mystery by Sarah Rayne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel continues as entry #6 in the Nell West series and we catch up with Nell and Michael a little after the events of “Deadlight Hall”. In this story, Nell returns as the primary character with Michael returning to the secondary research investigation role. I really enjoyed the author’s ability to switch back and forth making two strong protagonists, that’s strengths differ and keep the series fresh and alive. Returning to Nell’s perspective as a primary character gave this story a new refreshing take and also allowed Nell as a character to really develop more. It was also interesting that Nell’s daughter Beth featured a bit more in this story and is a little more grown up in this book. Great use of character progression.

In this story, Nell has bought the shop next door and is working on and extension. When some old plaster is removed Nell finds a hidden message on the wall referring to someone called Thaisa. This leads Neil on a chain of discovery where she uncovers a link with a village in Dorset (where her daughter is holidaying this summer), a mysterious piece of music called Thaisia’s song and a derelict bell tower with a silenced bell. The story is told from a variety of historical sources and also from the view of an old woman living the life of a recluse. She is desperate to protect her family’s secrets at all costs.

As with all Sarah Rayne books, her plotting is brilliant, she lays many, many, threads for the reader to follow and then brilliantly weaves them all together. It did take me a little longer than normal to get into this book. I think there was a little less mystery than others in this series and this was quite a dark storyline. I do like that Rayne still experiments in her writing and tries out many characters’ viewpoints.
I think Rayne has done a great job of developing Michael and Nell’s personal relationship too. For returning readers it is handled very well and the progression can be seen, but it’s also not distracting and confusing for first-time readers. For those that haven’t discovered the Nell West collection, I would suggest these novels are quite similarly written to Phil Rickman’s work; old story exposed, great characters and slightly eerie. The books are well written and well plotted and the historical details are always interesting.
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The Librarian

Layla looked around frustrated, but no-one was watching. She leant over his shoulder reading his notes. He was getting it all wrong. Groaning she swooped off and went in search of a better source for him. She knew this library inside-out and it bothered her that no-one ever listened. Blowing the dust from the bookshelf, she found the title he needed. Lifting it she made her way back to the table, dropping the book beside the lad. He would either accept her help or he wouldn’t.

Ben looked around the deserted library, he was sure he had heard someone sigh next to him but glancing up and down, no-one was there. He hunched himself back over his paper, it was incredibly tough. Minutes later, engrossed in his note-taking he jumped as a book landed heavily on the table. He spun around glancing nervously around the room, it was still empty. He stood up, packing his things hastily in his backpack, then glanced at the book “Women during the War”, it was exactly what he needed.

Library Photo courtesy of TJ Paris.png

Library Photo courtesy of TJ Paris


Originally Written in response to Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers using the above photo as prompt. Hope you enjoyed Ben’s ghostly companion. KL ❤

#Maydays Prompt – Haunting Tales

“Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as charging the catlong as I am living. You said I killed you -haunt me then. The murdered do haunt their murderers.” ― Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

For today’s #maydays prompt how about a little haunting?

Remember you can write a memory, short flash fiction, poetry or whatever may take your fancy and pingback here so that I can pop by and visit you. Don’t forget to TAG your prompt #maydays too.

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Some great responses to yesterday’s prompt – The Break – don’t forget to pop by for a visit:

Break the Silence – ladyleemanila

#Maydays Prompt – The Break – Grandma’s Vase | Morpethroad

What a mug | Postcard from a Pigeon

If Only They Knew – The Watching Witch #writephoto | new2writing