The Rose Within: A Gothic Romance
by Sana Pirzada
Book Empire

"I watched in utter disbelief as the lady, an aristocrat, a woman whose beauty was unparalleled, willingly gave her blood to her housekeeper's daughter."

In today’s world of instantaneous communication, universal techno-speak, and the sum total of the world’s recorded information available via mere keystrokes, it feels wickedly luxurious to take a languid journey backward and lose oneself within the conventions, charms, and chills of the classic Gothic novel. Pirzada has penned an admirable homage to the genre with her tale of an eerie estate, foreboding dreams, seemingly unrequited love, hidden secrets, and violent deeds that unfold amid the fog-shrouded gloom of England in 1925.

Told via diary entries, we learn of a young man whose good deed wins him residence at Winter Grange, an English country manner avoided by most and spoken of only in whispers by nearby townsfolk. The isolated home is occupied by aging caretakers, the saintly Lady of the house, a mysterious administrator who doubles as a nurse, and perhaps one or more ghosts. It is in these surroundings that our principled yet naive protagonist finds himself immersed in a world of past sins, present shocks, and future potential catastrophes. Before his yarn is fully spun, he experiences desire, fear, contentment, exasperation, the heights of love, and the depths of despair.

The plot is appropriately complex with frequent revelations of multi-generational wrongdoings being visited on innocent heirs. Stylistically, Pirzada has a firm grasp on the language and dialogue of the era in which her story is set. Allusions to well-known Gothic literature are dropped into the narrative to draw parallels. They are actually unnecessary as the author’s use of suspense, drama, irony, and atmosphere, compellingly capture the Gothic gestalt. If you prefer to read by candlelight on stormy nights, accompanied by a glass of red wine within easy reach, then this one’s for you.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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