The World Before Us by Aislinn Hunter is a haunting book about memory and uncovering the past. I feel it was a literary fiction “sleeper” because I had not heard of it through any of my usual book sources. I selected it through my affiliation with Blogging for Books. I was entranced by this novel and read the last three-quarters this past rainy Saturday afternoon. This book combined a historical mystery with a modern tragedy. The plot felt a bit thin at times, but it propelled me along enough to stay interested.
An archivist in a small London museum, Jane Standen, becomes interested in a Victorian asylum and an old estate separated by woods she had wandered in as a teenager. For the second half of the book, she is re-visiting this spot outside of London as her past and her present come together. The Victorian era mystery is linked to the modern tragedy through a chorus of ghost like creatures that lurk alongside Jane throughout the novel. These spirits from the past floating in Jane’s life fascinated me and helped hold together the story. Aislinn Hunter has published stories, poetry and a novel previously in the UK, but this is her first U.S. publication. I look forward to seeing more from her. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.