Three women. A cursed house. Generations of lives at stake. The third novel in the acclaimed Bliss House series reveals the secret that started it all.
There is no bliss to be found in Bliss House.
In Old Gate, Virginia, stands a grand house built by Randolph Bliss, a charming New York carpetbagger who, in 1878, shook off dire warnings to build his home elsewhere. For the ground beneath Bliss House is tainted with the kind of tragedy that curses generations, seeping through the foundation and sowing madness in its wake. His first and second wives, and his young Japanese mistress, Kiku, bear witness to Randolph’s growing insanity with stories of his cruel manipulations and their desperate struggles to find happiness for themselves and their children.
Their desire to live and love and even take revenge also fills the house, triumphing even over death. Spanning half a century, The Abandoned Heart is the prequel to Charlotte’s Story and Bliss House, forming a trilogy of southern Gothic novels in which one haunted house begets haunted lives that echo over centuries. A haunting so powerful that even Bliss House’s destruction cannot kill it.
Only a fervent fan of the first two installments in Benedict's trilogy, Bliss House and Charlotte's Story, will find much pleasure in this final volume, which delves into the dark roots of the evil in remote Old Gate, Va., circa 1876. Libertine Randolph Bliss, a wealthy Yankee, is hell-bent on erecting an extravagant mansion on ground already rumored to be haunted by multiple murders. Maybe Randolph just feels right at home, for beneath his fine clothes and superficial civility he is truly monstrous, an equal opportunity abuser physical, sexual, psychological of women, including his long-suffering first wife, Amelia; Kiku, the 15-year-old Japanese prostitute he installs in a cottage on the grounds before Amelia and their profoundly disabled daughter, Tamora, have even moved in to the mansion; and Lucy, the second Mrs. Bliss. Although the action leapfrogs from the late 1870s to 1924 and to myriad points in between, this conclusion offers, unlike the first book, no real glimmer of hope for either Bliss's victims or the reader.