Cat Morley has known suffering. A maid in service, she has fought for women's rights as a suffragette, eventually serving time for her crimes. Now recovering from a terrible illness and finally freed, she has been hired on at the vicarage in Cold Ash Holt. Albert Canning, the man of the house and the village vicar, has a peculiar interest and is dead set on discovering elementals. His wife, Hester, does her best to support her husband but finds that her marriage is lacking. When Albert believes he's finally seen the spirits he seeks, he sends word to a theosopher in the area. Robin Durrant not only believes Albert, but is determined to bring proof of these fairies to the outside world, at any cost. Soon, the Canning home is in turmoil and Cat is in trouble once again.
One hundred years later, Leah Hickson receives a call from her ex. He's been working with the War Graves Commission in Belgium. A recently uncovered body bears evidence that may be enough to recover an identity. That's where Leah comes in. Two letters from the early twentieth century written by a Hester Canning from Cold Ash Holt are enough of a starting point for Leah, but will she be able to discover the identity of the unnamed soldier? And what crime does Hester refer to in one of her letters?
Webb divides her story into two parts, alternating chapters between the events of 1911 and Leah's investigation in 2011. Leah is a fabulous character -- someone fascinated by the past and in a position to be able to research and discover hidden history. The mystery at Cold Ash Holt itself is intriguing and Leah's efforts to unravel them are great momentum for the story.
The 1911 portion of the tale is equally absorbing. Cat is feisty and holds onto a lot of anger thanks to the unfairness of class rules. This time was tumultuous indeed and Hester plays an almost perfect opposite to Cat, determined to do her part by being a loving and supportive wife. While their overall ideas of how things should be done clash, they do have more sympathy for one another than they're ready to show.
This is my first read by Katherine Webb, but definitely not my last. The Unseen is new out as of last week. Webb has an upcoming release due out in the UK in July and one previous release, The Legacy, available in the States now.
Thanks to TLC for letting me participate in the tour. For the full tour schedule check here.