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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Within These Walls by Holly Mangin brings to life ghostly rumors and encounters surrounding the history of the abandoned Hillfield Manor. Many stories have circulated over the years about the manor, preventing people from entering and scarring those who have. When the manor opens again, Emma has an opportunity to explore its interior and look over the family’s writings. How can she say no to that? Now she gets the chance to discover the truth for herself. The last thing she expected was to meet the charming Alex Eason. She’s surprised at the feelings he stirs in her and even more so when she discovers they have one major difference - she’s alive and he’s not. As she’s drawn further into the manor’s secrets, Emma must decide if the obstacles keeping them apart are worth taking a chance at love.
The manor immediately sets the tone by giving it the ominous and eerie quality befitting a ghost story. The vivid details capture your attention by making the manor almost an entity that feels like a character, full of mystery, secrets, and danger. Holly Mangin establishes the mood with a Gothic facade and uses details to create an imposing and regal backdrop. It is a key feature that brings the ghost story to life in a setting where sightings and encounters occur. The emptiness of the manor evokes a spine-chilling atmosphere that draws you into the secrets that are unveiled around every corner. Emma's curiosity adds excitement to every discovery she makes. She’s haunted by the loss of her sister which serves as a guiding light that drives her further and further into discovering what secrets lie within the manor. Family is an important component of the story as Emma is tasked with copying journals which serve as the basis for the mystery. Woven throughout are snippets of the journal entries which create a format that dips into this family’s past and gives the story a timeless feeling. The relationship between Alex and Emma adds romance with a unique twist in a ghost story filled with obstacles threatening to keep them apart. Within These Walls strikes the perfect balance between a mystery, a ghost story, and a romance for an unforgettable and original read.