Synopsis: In 1910, eleven year old Iris Villarca lives with her father at Rawblood, a lonely house on Dartmoor. Iris and her father are the last of their name. The Villarcas always die young, bloodily. Iris knows it’s because of a congenital disease which means she must be strictly isolated. Papa told her so. Forbidden to speak to other children or the servants, denied her one friend, Iris grows up in solitude. But she reads books. And one sunlit autumn day, beside her mother’s grave, she forces the truth from her father. The disease is biologically impossible. A lie, to cover a darker secret.
The Villarcas are haunted, through the generations, by her. She is white, skeletal, covered with scars. Her origins are a mystery but her purpose is clear. When a Villarca marries, when they love, when they have a child – she comes and death follows.
Iris makes her father a promise: to remain alone all her life. But when she’s fifteen, she breaks it. The consequences of her choice are immediate and horrific.
Author: Catriona Ward
Pub Date: 24th September 2015
I was provided a review copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I have been craving a good horror story for a while and Rawblood seemed to tick all the boxes – great cover, brilliant blurb, terrifying white lady – what more can a girl want?
The plot is gripping; the madness from the Villarca line mixed with the curse of Rawblood makes for terrifying reading. However, Ward seems to punch a little above her weight in terms of plot complexity.
To achieve the intricate plot line, the narrative switches back and forth not only between characters, but also between periods spanning fifty years. I can’t count how many times I had to go back to figure where I was, what period I was in, and who was talking to me.
There were moments of brilliance; when Ward gets her teeth into a narrative the pace picks up and the suspense is agonising (in a good way). But whenever a story line got going, she’d either drag it on too long, or cut back to another time before you get anything out of it.
Overall, Rawblood has all the components for a hauntingly good book but, in my opinion, the execution fell a little short.