In The End Of Temperance Dare by Wendy Webb, we are introduced to Eleanor Harper. She has become the director of Cliffside Manor, an artist’s retreat. Beginning as a tuberculosis sanatorium in the early years, it has made a name as a retreat for artists. Eleanor knows of the Manor after having done a story on it, as a journalist and crime reporter. When the position became available, she was interested hoping to find a more peaceful job, and very surprised at being chosen.
From the very first night things get off to a strange start; the prior director who had planned on retiring, commits suicide. With such an inauspicious beginning Eleanor finds herself feeling a sense of doom. With her background though she is unwilling to give up the job and moves forward to welcome her first group of artists.
As she meets the group assigned for her first retreat, she begins to wonder what has drawn them all together. She feels that each person was chosen personally by the prior director, but she cannot determine why. There is something eerie and frightful about the building, and some of the rooms. As strange things begin to happen, weird and frightening forces seem to be moving in, putting all the inhabitants at risk. Can she find a way to fight and save them all? Who is Temperance Dare, and why is she out for vengeance.
Webb takes us into the darkness of a secret that has lasted for years. She chooses an old sanatorium, a place where many with tuberculosis end up dying, and develops a story that oozes doom and retribution. She creates a sense of terror from the very beginning with the death of the previous director.
She creates her characters with various strengths and flaws, making is hard to determine just exactly is happening, and she creates a connection between each of them, and someone or something to do with the early years of the sanatorium. The story creates an eerie feeling of impending danger, and keeps you reading with the lights on.
If you enjoy tales of suspense and horror, you will find this a clever work. Webb takes you into the dark places and holds you spellbound with terror.
This would be a terrific book for a reading group