The Tower: Anne-Marie Ormsby

There is a lot to like in this book. The author evokes a strong sense of place, setting the story in central London; concentrating on its busy-ness and seamier side. Ada, her main character, is a housing manager who, as part of her work, routinely deals with people on the edges of life.

And this is what Ada is too. Edgy. Coming to terms with a difficult past – and her ‘gifts’ – she just about holds everything together, but not, sadly, the relationship she both needs and desires. This is when the writing is really good, when Ormsby gets inside her character; takes time to build and develop Ada’s complex POV, using some great figurative language. Finally: a modern author who isn’t frightened of using a bloomin’ adjective!

I do have an issue with the way the writing occasionally falls back on exposition, when it ‘catches us up’ on past events which we didn’t really need to know and which slowed down the narrative. I loved the character of Harman and would’ve liked to have seen more of him, maybe even from his POV too, adding further depth to both his relationship with Ada and the events which surrounded them.

Anne-Marie Ormsby is definitely an author to watch, however, and I’ll be interested to see how she develops her craft and see what she comes up with next.

When residents on an east London housing estate start dying in gruesome ways, housing manager Ada begins to worry that her past is coming back to haunt her. Once a powerful medium, able to talk to the dead with amazing ease, she became more comfortable with the afterlife than real life, and with that openness she attracted something dark from the other side. Terrified by the experience she swore she would never communicate with the dead again.

Ten years later at the scene of an apparent suicide, her long closed-down connection to the dead is reopened, and she begins to receive information she shouldn’t know about the victims’ final moments.

Stalked in her dreams and in waking life by an angry male presence, Ada begins to relive the dark days when something from the other side wanted her to end her life.

But as the bodies stack up and the visions intensify, Ada realises that in order to stop more people from dying she has to let the dead back in to find out the truth of what is driving her residents to violent acts – and face up to her own ghosts.

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