Wishing Shelf Book Awards review on ‘Vernon Hall & Other Stories’

“Captivating characters in a dark, gothic world. Superbly written with a goldtipped pen”

Editing: 10
Plot: 10
Writing Style: 9
Cover/Illustrations: 9

Star Rating: 5


As it happens, I do enjoy a good gothic novel, so I settled down with this offering from Sana Pirzada who I happen to know is the author of another book, The Rose Within. I enjoyed The Rose Within very much, and I was delighted it was a finalist in The Wishing Shelf Book Awards in 2016.
Well, I’m delighted to report that this is even better. Much better, in fact. Firstly, the writing style is excellent. The author understands pacing and how to develop characters through speech. Secondly, the setting. Wow! It’s so dark, so haunting.

In many ways, the Victorian setting is a character in this book. The author is adept at describing the dark, gothic atmosphere from Thorn Manor to Vernon Hall.

But it is the characters who stand out the most. The author works terribly hard to offer the reader complex characters; often haunted by past events. All of the characters, even the secondary, jump off the page. So much so, I was
sympathizing with many and rooting for the rest. The best character? Difficult. Personally, I liked Willoughby. He was so very kind, so very noble. Yes, he was flawed too. But the balance was perfect; the result, a ‘real’ character for the reader to fall in love with.

There is a strong element of ‘morality’ in this set of four. A strong element of ‘love’. The author is intent on having a moral for the reader to grasp and contemplate. Is Pirzada working too hard here? Possibly. But, still, the moral –
different for every story – is important. And, although it niggled me slightly to have them pushed so strongly in the narrative, they will, possibly, inspire the reader to think. And that’s never a bad thing.