by Phyllis A. Whitney
Publication Date: May 1, 1969
Publisher: Fawcett Crest
From the day Malinda Rice first comes to Silverhill -- her mother's home -- her hope turns to fear. But she will not run. For the beauty of Silverhill's setting hides more than one family's secrets. And Malinda must fight for both her sanity and her life before she discovers the full, horrifying truth about the past evil and present terrors that may engulf her....
One of Whitney’s earlier publications, this one still has the intricate plotting and surprises that are missing in her later titles. Conversely, it’s one of the less evocatively atmospheric of hers I’ve read so far.
The thing a reader has to accept about Whitney is that her whole raison d’être in writing was to thrust heroines into the most unwelcome home she could imagine and have her persevere in spite of all stumbling blocks. It’s formulaic, definitely, but each of her earlier novels becomes unique in the setting, the secrets and the mystery.
Silverhill absolutely fits the Whitney formula, and it made me a bit impatient at the start as all the usual hurdles, cruelty and heartache were presented along with the future insta-love (these books were written in the 50’s and 60’s when apparently if it took you longer than 48 hours to decide you’d met your One True Love, you might as well not bother).
But one all of that was gotten through, the story was a surprise. I thought I knew where it was going, and I was sort of right, but the salient detail of the whole thing blindsided me when it was revealed. So much karma getting doled out to everyone. And, of course, a happy ending for our heroine.
When a good Whitney comes along, they are a pure indulgence to a much more innocent, yet horrific, form of story telling for readers who like their suspense served in tandem with romance, and a touch of gothic for garnish.