INHERITANCE OF SHADOWS by Janis Susan May is a story that wears many hats. It's awash with Gothic elements, including a creepy manor house and long hidden childhood secrets. It's also a mystery with a questioning sense of whodunit running through the plot. Finally, it's a romance, with an antagonistic relationship between the narrator and the charismatic man who has returned to her life with questionable motives and lots to answer for.
When Aurora Mathis returns to her father's estate, she finds it inhabited by and surrounded with devotees of her late father. Charles Mathis had been a successful fantasy author, a creator of worlds peopled by creatures so compelling that Aurora sometimes wonders if they truly exist. Her visit to Merrywood is an uneasy one as she struggles to remember the few years she spent living with her father, fend off the expectations of her father's followers, and deal with her complicated feelings for ex-lover Corwin Warrender. As those at Merrywood turn from suspiciously quirky to possibly dangerous, Aurora searches for the truth about her father's death, whatever the cost.
I enjoyed the Gothic tension that ran throughout the story. The Merrywood estate had a life of its own and its ominous environment created the perfect tension-filled pitch for the story. The mystery surrounding Aurora's father was an intriguing one, and the character of Charles Mathis was such an enormous personality, casting a shadow over every other character in the novel, that sussing out the truth of his death became as important to me as it was to Aurora. The best part of the novel, however, was the romance between Aurora and Corwin. Though it wasn't always front and center, as the mystery took center stage, it was the thread that tied the whole tale together.
Aurora Mathis is coming home. Back to Merrywood, an estate she doesn't remember. Back to the house in which her father died by his own hand. Back to where she witnessed his death.
Charles Mathis captivated millions of readers with a series of eerie fantasy novels before taking his own life when Aurora was just a toddler. Aurora tried to hide from his infamy but now she wants to learn about the man she never knew.
She agrees to attend a convention honoring her father's work but on arrival is filled with a gnawing sense of unease and soon begins dreaming of the strange, inhuman beings who populated her father's books. When she starts receiving odd gifts and seeing mysterious robed figures in the halls of Merrywood, Aurora worries she may be losing her mind.
As the days pass and the happenings around her turn from odd to dangerous, Aurora begins to wonder if the magical world her father created may not be completely fictional...