The storm led me to Padthaway.
I could never resist the allure of dark swirling clouds, windswept leaves sweeping down cobbled lanes or a view of the sea stirring up its defiant nature. The sea possessed a power all of its own and this part of Cornwall, an isolated stretch of rocky cliff tops and unexplored beaches both enchanted and terrified me.
It is not a lie to say I felt drawn out that day, led to a certain destiny...
So begins this new mystery series featuring young Daphne du Maurier, headstrong, adventurous, and standing at the cusp of greatness.
Walking on the cliffs in Cornwall, she stumbles upon the drowned body of a beautiful woman, dressed only in a nightgown, her hair strewn along the rocks, her eyes gazing up to the heavens. Daphne soon learns that the mysterious woman was engaged to marry Lord Hartley of Padthaway, an Elizabethan mansion full of intriguing secrets.
As the daughter of the famous Sir Gerald du Maurier, Daphne is welcomed into the Hartley home, but when the drowning turns out to be murder, Daphne determines to get to the bottom of the mysteries of Padthaway—in part to find fresh inspiration for her writing, and in part because she cannot resist the allure of grand houses and long buried secrets.
At the start of Australian author Challis's U.S. debut, the uneven first in a new series to feature literary icon Daphne du Maurier as sleuth, 21-year-old Daphne, who's visiting Cornwall to research local history, encounters a teenage girl, Lianne Hartley, leaning over a beautiful young woman's body on the beach during a storm. Lianne reluctantly identifies the dead woman as Victoria Bastion, a former kitchen maid who was about to marry Lianne's brother. Daphne soon meets other members of the aristocratic Hartley family, whose complex relationships and great house, an Elizabethan mansion called Padthaway, fascinate her. When Daphne learns that Victoria died by poison rather than accident, she vows to solve the mystery of her murder. Despite a clunky plot and some labored prose ("Sea spray foamed at the mouth of the restless sea"), Challis (Eye of the Serpent) gives du Maurier fans an appealing vision of the novelist's early womanhood and the inspiration for her classic Rebecca.