The Emerald Comb by Kathleen McGurl ~ BLOG TOUR!

Whatever secrets the house still held, I longed to discover them. 

Title - The Emerald Comb
Author - Kathleen McGurl
Publisher - Carina UK
Publication Date - 22nd September 2014
Format - eBook (Provided via author)

The blurb

One afternoon, Katie takes a drive to visit Kingsley House, the family home of her ancestors, the St Clairs. She falls in love the minute she sees it. It may be old and in desperate need of modernisation, but it is her link to the past and, having researched her family tree extensively, she feels a sense of belonging to the crumbling old estate. 

When it suddenly comes up for sale, she cannot resist persuading her family to sell up and buy it, never telling them the truth of their connection with it. But soon the past collides with the present, as the house begins to reveal the secrets it has hidden for generations. Does Katie really want to discover what she has come from? 

Becca's thoughts

Firstly, thank you to the lovely author Kathleen McGurl for getting in touch with me regarding her novel The Emerald Comb. I love to take chances on books, and I love it even more when those books turn out to be absolutely stunning, as The Emerald Comb turned out to be. There is nothing, nothing in this world, that makes me feel quite the same way that I do when singing an author's praises. So I'll begin... And also, huge thanks to Leah from Girls Love to Read for getting me involved with the blog tour! WOOP WOOP!

I wasn't sure of what to expect from The Emerald Comb when Kathleen emailed me. Each time you accept a review request, it's either going to go one of two ways. You're either going to absolutely adore it, or you're not going to be a huge fan. It's a bit of a risk, but as a reviewer I believe it's only fair to take those chances, because who knows how hard you're going to fall in love with a story? After reading the blurb that Kath sent my way, and realising that she'd be taking me back in time, I knew that there was no way I could turn this one down. I am a major fan of historic/time-slip novels, but I rarely get chance to sit back and enjoy one. I readily agreed to read and review The Emerald Comb, and let me tell you something. Never, never, ever before have I been more glad that I took a chance on a book. And I mean NEVER. 

The term "time-slip" was a new one to me. I'd heard of historic, and I guess I thought that the two went together, that they were similar in some way. I mean, I suppose they are, in that you're taken back to a time before your own, but time-slip just sounds so much more interesting, doesn't it? And it is also the PERFECT description of Kathleen's smooth, fluid slips between the present and the past. "Slip" is exactly what Kath does, and it seems effortless. There's no muddling up of dates or people or time eras, the time-slipping is so sleekly achieved, it's incredible. 

When The Emerald Comb begins, Kath introduces us to the lovely Katie, who is a sucker for digging up the past, creating family trees, and doing everything that she can to find out about her ancestors who once lived in Kingsley House. When her interest piques, Katie decides to go and take a look at the house itself. She takes a drive down to Kingsley house and is surprised when she meets the old couple who live there. Visiting Kingsley House does nothing except heighten Katie's interests in the old place even more, after all, the house is where members of her family from generations before her once lived. It's as if the ghosts of those people still linger in the rooms and whisper down the hallways. 

I absolutely loved Kath's portrayal of Kingsley House. It was old, in need of some love and care, yet still held Katie captive with its hidden secrets and past, and it also held me captive too. As Kath built Kingsley House up in my mind, I, too, felt even more enthralled with it. There was definitely something hanging in the air within the house, something chilling yet intriguing. I could not wait for the secrets of the house to be revealed to me. I was just as excited as Katie was. 

When Kingsley House comes up for sale, Katie is as quick as anything to get her family down there to have a good look around. Once they've visited, Katie and her family decide that it's the home for them, but she withholds the fact that it is linked to her ancestors. Once they are all moved into Kingsley House, tiny snippets of the past begin to reveal themselves, and Katie finds herself deeply involved in what happened in Kingsley House generations before, more involved, in fact, than Katie had ever thought possible. 

I will mention here that Kath slips between the different time frames each time a new chapter begins. I confuse very easily when reading books like this, but Kath's technique was just so effortless and smooth, it was incredibly easy to pick right up from where I left off. With each change of chapter and era, Kath also changes the focal point of her characters. In the here and now, she focuses on Katie and her family in the modern day Kingsley House. Whereas when Kath takes us back in time, we're focusing on Bartholomew and Georgia. I think for me personally, I endlessly enjoyed the progression of Bartholomew and Georgia's story, and adored the old-style dialogue and how Georgia had her own house-maid etc. Flicking from that back to the modern day was a fantastic transition that I not once tired of. 

Kath's characters were brilliantly developed. She didn't lack details with either couple, whether they were from the modern day or the past, and by the end of the book, I was absolutely besotted with the character's separate lives and where they would end up once Kath brought her book to an end. Every emotion and experience that the characters went through, I went through too. It was just superb, and I cannot stress enough how bloody effortless it all seemed, although I'm sure that's not the case on Kath's part. I could tell how much effort Kath had put into the writing of The Emerald Comb. I was incredibly enthusiastic about the entire story, and chattered non-stop to my other half, wondering what was going to happen next. 

Throughout the entirety of Kath's writing, there was a sort of foreboding. A sense that something dark  was slowly approaching the characters, and something terrible was going to happen. I was so eager to reach the part where things were going to take a turn for the worst, and I was not disappointed when that part came around. Kath's words were powerful and intense, and lacked neither punch nor effect. I must have gasped about trillion times, and couldn't believe what I was reading. Such a momentous event, and perfectly slipped in to a time that coincided with something else major happening in the present day to Katie and her family.        

Kath didn't stop there with hooking me in. At the beginning of the story, Kath draws the reader in with a letter, from Bartholomew to his son, indicating that something terrible happened, right there in Kingsley house. Not only is the story told through the character's points of view, but Kath amazingly tells the story through the form of the letter, too. Every now and then, the letter is brought back to the attention of the reader, and you're reintroduced to the catastrophic secret that is hidden in the walls of Kingsley House. Honestly, Kath's skill never ceased to surprise and tease me.

In a nutshell, The Emerald Comb by Kathleen McGurl was incredible, and I am not using the term lightly. It absolutely blew my mind. Everything about this book is what I love about reading. The mystery, the romance, the drama. Definitely one of my favourite reads of 2014, and so totally worthy of five of my cupcakes, and more. I cannot recommend this book enough! Kath, thank you so much for the chance to read your fantastic story, I feel like I've lived the four different lives of your main characters right beside them. I adored it. Absolutely adored it.

~ Author Bio ~

Kathleen McGurl lives near the sea in Bournemouth, with her husband, sons and cats. She began her writing career creating short stories, and sold dozens to women's magazines in the UK and Australia. Then she got side-tracked onto family history research - which led eventually to writing novels with genealogy themes. She has always been fascinated by the past, and the ways in which the past can influence the present, and enjoys the exploring these links in her novels. 

When not writing or working at her full-time job in IT, she likes to go out running or sea-swimming, both of which she does rather slowly. She definitely quicker at writing. 

You can find out more at her website, or follow her on twitter @KathMcGurl. 

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