This eerie tale melds past and present, the history of Bosco, an exotic estate in upstate New York, of much interest to a new generation of writers and artists. Bosco has become a haven for the writers in attendance to work on their projects and nurture their creativity.
The current group of writers is eclectic: a landscape artist, a novelist struggling to recapture his muse and elude a troubling personal history, a poet, and other peripheral figures. Most notable is Ellis Brooks, a first-time novelist who is attempting to recreate the ambiance and tragic story of Bosco’s original owner, Amanda Latham. For reasons she cannot explain to the others, Ellis feels a connection to this place, an uneasy familiarity that fills her with dread and apprehension, not to mention the whispers that only she can hear.
A century ago, in 1939, Aurora Latham built this remarkable place as a paean to the memory of her three dead children, lost one summer to diphtheria, with their only sibling, Alice, left behind. The grounds are filled with classic statuary and exotic plants, the mansion dark and brooding, cluttered with antiques and the empty rooms where once the children played. Financed by her lumber-magnate husband, the estate is extraordinary, especially for the feat of engineering that allows streams to flow uphill.
Hoping to assuage his wife’s grief, Milo Latham brings a successful medium to Bosco, Corinth Blackman. Instead of bringing closure to Aurora’s emotional disturbance, Corinth’s presence serves only to exacerbate the already strained relationship between husband and wife, particularly when Aurora accuses Milo of having had an affair with Corinth.
For her part, the medium has only good intentions, prepared to interface between the dead children and their mother until something interferes with the séance, a vague recognition that much is amiss between mother and children. Listening to the lonely voices of the dead, Corinth follows where they lead only to find her life in jeopardy. Shadowed by the lonely Alice, Corinth discovers that the grieving mother is not what she seems, the medium’s presence resulting in a series of violent, chilling acts that belie the beauty of the surroundings: “The spirits of the children have infected the place.”
In a quandary as she tries to reassemble the events of the past and Aurora’s relationship with her children, Ellis is assailed by the voices that will not let her rest, compelled to uncover the secrets that reside within this place even at the risk of her own life. Further complicated by romantic interest in one of her companions, Ellis accepts his aid in following the secret tunnels and hidden passageways that riddle the estate.
In an old-world mystery blended with the sensibilities of the present, Goodman successfully renders a compelling tale that reeks of sinister events, even murder, as the children cry out for release, trapped, restive souls who demand their tale be told. Rich with ambiguity and the distant hum of evil, The Ghost Orchid is compelling, Ellis the conduit for the past to make peace with the present.