HISTORICAL: After her mother’s passing, Rynna Dalton is obliged to return to the familial enclave at Stonebridge Manor. The massive and stately mansion is populated with frigid and judgmental relatives. Although Rynna yearns to escape this new prison, she discovers warmth in the ghostly presence of her mother’s long dead cousin, Rosalind. Why does Rosalind’s essence seem to linger in the music room, and what message does she have for Rynna? Rynna seems patently incapable of contributing towards her own independence and instead falls for the charm of her charismatic cousin, Jason, much to the chagrin of their ornery and plainspoken cousin, Ted. When the matriarch, Edwina Demeray, is suddenly found dead, that’s when the real drama begins. There are allegations that Grandmother was murdered, and perhaps the kitchen maid knew more about that than she let on. When Rynna refuses to heed Ted’s warnings about her relationship with Jason, Rosalind becomes agitated. Will premonitions of doom help alter Rynna’s fate?

Linda Griffin’s vivid imagery and elegant prose flow beautifully and provide a smooth, precise, and haunting reading experience. “Stonebridge” is dark. It’s themes of spousal abuse and feminine dependence will resonate with some readers and perhaps trigger others. Rynna, Jason, and Ted grapple with domestic violence, manipulation, ableism, and infidelity, but the exploration never extends beyond the superficial, nor are the characters afforded any transformative insight. Mystery elements surrounding Edwina’s death and the maid’s involvement remain ambiguous, while the denouement of Rynna’s domestic woes relies on supernatural intervention to deliver a lukewarm resolution. This immersive read favors readers who seek a contemplative journey into a darker side of marital bliss in the 1950’s.

Joan Lai