Daphne Du Maurier is such an incredible writer – there is no-one else that manages to create such a feeling of dread and foreboding and ill-ease in books as she! I find myself turning a page and then involuntarily scanning to the end before I read it, just to find out in advance if anything nasty happens! And yet there is nothing particularly gruesome or overtly violent in her novels – it is just the skillful language that she uses and the beautiful way she creates the mood just by describing the scene.

In this novel Mary Yellan finds herself moving to a new home after her mother dies, and her only other living relatives are the Merlyns who own an Inn in desolate moorland countryside in Cornwall. She is understandably reluctant to leave the farm and home she loves, yet things get worse when she meets her Uncle Joss. He is a threatening bully who terrorises his wife and expects to rule over everybody and everything. Mary is intimidated by Joss, and by the mood and sense of threat and unhappiness that pervades the Inn. She then gradually discovers that her Uncle is involved in criminal activity, which greatly shocks and scares her, and adds to the menace and sense of danger surrounding the place.

As well as the threatening presence of Joss Merlyn, the moorland itself is also intimidating and Du Maurier almost makes this lonely and desolate countryside into another character in the book – it seems to have a very strong presence and can have an effect on people’s actions and journeys. The marshland is particularly dangerous and one false step can result in sinking to your death – her description of crossing these wastelands is beautifully graphic and tense.

The whole novel is very clever; full of gothic mood, sinister characters, dark secrets, sleep-disturbing tension – and a great twist at the end. Definitely well worth reading.