It should be said up front that this is the fourth book in a series, and I have not read the prior three. Rest assured there is plenty of context to the prior installment and, should you like this one, you’ll know there is plenty more.
Place-based thrillers, especially a series that digs deep into the history of a locale, fictional or not (the latter represented best by Stephen King’s Castle Rock, Maine), invite the reader into a detailed world full of mysterious characters and a cumulative lore that one-offs and stories less tied to place often do not.
In this case, the acknowledgments indicate that the author spent considerable time on the islands and used a real-life apartment where she stayed as the model for the one in the novel (with permission of the owner). Blackthorn also indicates that the history presented about the islands and the villa are, to the best of her knowledge, true.
As a writer of historical fiction with thriller and paranormal elements, I appreciate the amount of work that went into the world-building in this book. Almost Dickensian in its detail, The Ghost of Villa Winter invites the reader to step in deeply into this at-times dire and deadly locale and explore the nooks and crannies with the heroine.
Further, given the popularity of Escape Rooms and the way they have infiltrated storytelling on television and in film, and to some degree in novels, the amount of detail Blackthorn employs in the layout of buildings, landscapes, and living spaces allows the reader to participate vicariously in a popular form of puzzle-solving. Continue reading