The End of Temperance Dare
By Wendy Webb
Eleanor Harper spent twenty years as a crime reporter, covering the most depraved acts humanity had to offer. But after a bout with PTSD, she loses her nerve and her job. Almost immediately after Eleanor finds herself unemployed, Penny Dare, the director of Cliffside Manor, an artist’s retreat on Lake Superior that began life as a tuberculosis sanitarium, announces her retirement. Eleanor is drawn to apply for the position. Remarkably, she gets the job, with only a tenuous connection with Penny from twenty years prior. The death of Penny’s father and sister was Eleanor’s first story.
The day Eleanor arrives at Cliffside, Penny takes her own life. She leaves Eleanor a cryptic letter, asking her to solve the mystery of Cliffside Manor, which only provides the new director with a sense of disquiet and no clues. With no one but the loyal staff to guide her, and strange things happening in the house, Eleanor prepares for her first group of art fellows. But once they arrive, it becomes apparent they were all chosen to attend that session based on their connections with Cliffside. As paranormal events ramp up and become dangerous, Eleanor must solve the riddle of what happened in 1952 if she wants all of the living to get out alive.
This was a solid book although based on the summary, it probably should have had a title that revolved around Cliffside Manor and not Temperance Dare, because while the story was driven by Temperance, she remained a background figure for the majority of the novel. The story was really about Cliffside Manor and its history as a TB sanatorium.
A few issues I had, aside from the title, was the reason (or lack of a reason) that brought Eleanor back to Cliffside. It was difficult to swallow until later in the book when her connection was fully explained. The same was true for her connection with one of the other fellows. It felt a little too easy and that never sits well with me. The reader may need to suspend disbelief for a little while to get to the rationale.
I always enjoy discovering an author’s take on the paranormal and how it manifests and in some ways Webb didn’t disappoint but overall, this novel didn’t really add anything new to the genre. I guessed a few things well before they were revealed, although there were enough surprises to keep me guessing. Despite the conventional wisdom not to use a prologue, this novel began with a riveting one that served to jump-start my interest. I’m not sure if I would have stuck with the book if it had started with Eleanor. However, the epilogue felt unnecessary and was unsatisfying as an ending.
Despite those complaints, I consumed this novel in a few days. Aside from Eleanor’s reason for being there in the first place, clues and strange happenings were dropped in regularly enough to keep me interested. And it was free on Kindle Unlimited so if you’re a fan of paranormal mystery, you won’t go wrong with The End of Temperance Dare. Just don’t expect it to be all about Temperance.
I rated this book 3.5 stars.
Until next time, thanks for visiting.
My rating system:
5 stars – Wow, I could not stop thinking about this book and/or I wish I’d writtn it.
4 stars – This was an awesome novel, I’d recommend it to friends.
3 stars – This was a good novel, I will look for more by this author.
2 stars – An okay novel, but I probably won’t look for anything else by the author.