The House on the Strand
|My copy's goofy cover: pure 1970|
I actually read this for RIP a few weeks back, but then I didn't get around to reviewing it in time. (I had a very busy, but fun, Halloween. How about you?) This book has been on my TBR shelf for a little while and I'm no longer sure where I picked it up. I knew it would be some sort of suspense/thriller/Gothic thing, but I didn't really know what it was about at all. It turned out to be....well, kind of science fiction? Maybe?
Dick is alone for a week at an old, small Cornish manor house, but pretty soon his wife and step-sons will arrive. In the meantime, his friend Magnus wants him to experiment with a drug -- which takes his mind (but not his body) back 600 years into the past. There, Dick follows Roger, a slightly schemy estate steward, through the complex relations of three local families and an abbey. As Dick starts to lose his hold on reality, his family arrives and complicates matters, but that doesn't stop his determination to find out what happens, despite the obvious dangers.
It's an intriguing setup, and I got interested in the long-ago family drama just as Dick did. A modern SF novel would be expected to provide a good deal more explanation of just how a drug could push a mind back in time, but du Maurier has her characters do some hand-waving about genetic memory and leaves it at that. Nor is a rationale needed; all the suspense is provided.
I actually wound up with a better opinion of this story than I at first expected to have. It was a neat story that I enjoyed quite a bit.