Category Archives: Supernatural Suspense

Property of a Lady: a creepy but flawed ghost story

Property of a Lady by Sarah Rayne


TYPE OF SUSPENSE: Supernatural


One sex scene; one instance of black magic that went into WAY too much detail for this Christian reader.

If you’re still with me, read on…

I am constantly in search of the perfect suspense read–especially a good old-fashioned ghost story. I realize the definition of “perfect” when it comes to a book is a very subjective thing, but for me, I love books that are creepy/spooky, atmospheric, spine-tingling. They’re full of mystery that grows out of good characterization and an intriguing premise, and they manage to surprise me. The very best will leave me thinking, maybe even still puzzling over a detail or two.

For the first two thirds of Property of a Lady, I was hopeful that this was going to be one of the best ones. Definitely creepy and atmospheric, it actually managed to give me a fright once or twice. And the intrepid main characters who were looking into all this weirdness were great fun, especially the Oxford professor with the mischievous cat.

Then came the last third of the book and…I just don’t know what happened. Was the author rushed? She wasn’t sure to do with all that creepiness and convoluted back story she was putting together?

Because here’s what happened, for me at least. It went from spooky and mysterious with sensible characters to…well, sort of silly, with characters doing things that made no logical sense at all.

I am going to attempt to describe some of these problemms without lapsing into spoilers.

First, having one person—in particular, a professional who has been called to the creepy old house to investigate paranormal activity—write down every scary thing that’s happening as it’s unfolding around them makes sense. A professional investigator would want a log of events as they happen. But having every other person from the past do the same thing started to make me roll my eyes. I mean, seriously, if you were down in your basement and heard someone coming, probably to murder you, would you sit at your desk and write down that someone was coming down the stairs to murder you? When this happened, by this point I thought to myself, I bet the murderer continues the story. Sure enough, the murderer picked up the pen and wrote about what he had just done in the murdered man’s journal!

Then there was the woman who woke up with a strange man standing over her bed. She screamed. Her husband came running in and accused her of having invited the man into her bedroom for immoral reasons. With the potential rapist/murderer/criminal still in the room, the husband and wife proceeded to argue about her fidelity and his lack of prowess in bed. Totally ignoring the intruder, who was still standing there. Umm…don’t you deal with the intruder first and argue later?

I could give other instances, but I think you get the point. I’ve read other reviews of this book and I don’t think these things bothered other people. One of my colleagues loved this book, but said she almost felt it was satire or parody. So if you like a nice creepy ghost story and don’t require it to be entirely logical—or go at it with tongue planted firmly in cheek—you’ll probably still enjoy Property of a Lady.