I got this as an ARC from Netgalley and this my honest review of it.
At the beginning of this book Miss Maud Greenwood is orphaned...more**spoiler alert** 4.5
I got this as an ARC from Netgalley and this my honest review of it.
At the beginning of this book Miss Maud Greenwood is orphaned and forced to go into service as a governess because her father failed to make arrangements for her wellbeing in case of his demise. At this point her mother has already passed on as well so she is all alone in the world
We skip ahead to two years later and find that her experiences as a governess seems to have been far from pleasant and because she left each of her three previous employers under less than ideal circumstances she has no references and no one wants to hire her.
Things are truly looking bleak.
So she is amazed and relieved when a letter arrives from her estranged uncles stepdaughter Juliana Greenwood with an invitation to come and stay with her at Windward House,a cousin who is a complete stranger but where else can she go under her circumstances?
She leaves for Windward House.
And then we meet the other maincharacter. He is John Shawcross a penniless but talented artist.He is the sole supporter of his mother and has been hired restore a medieval painting called "The Doom" for Juliana Green
The Doom is a depiction of The Judgment Day and it was revealed by chance after being hidden and while many say its a miracle they are also repelled by it.
The Doom is very extraordinary –’ she gives a tiny shudder – ‘I find it almost frightening.’
John first encounters Maud on the train and is immediateley intrigued with her haunted air and sad eyes and fashions himself more than a bit in love with her. They part ways at the station but he hopes he will see her again.
Well at Windward house her cousin Juliana turns out not to be an old decreipt woman but beautiful and domineering who is firmly convinced she is dying. Maud is to be her nurse and companion and she is to tend her during the night if she so wishes.
Juliana is by turns affectionate and concerned about her welfare and at other times eager to hurt Maud with her cruel comments only to pretend to be suprised by that she should have minded having the truth spoken to her. Maud starts to resent her deeply.
Disappointed in what she thought would be her haven, Maud begins to use more and more of the laudanum as its help her sleep easily at night not tormented by nightmares of the memories of horrors of the places and families she worked for as a governess.
But she always needs more.
‘If a person suffers dreadful dreams of their past, bad enough to make them terrified to lay their head on the pillow, bad enough to drive them mad, what does Mr Quilter prescribe?’
‘Why, laudanum. He sells a lot of it in the shop. It cures all manner of ailments, including sleeplessness.’
‘But if that person has no money at all and is in desperate need?’ I fixed my eyes on her face. ‘Truly desperate need,Edie?’
Even in the half-light of the shop I could see she had gone a little pink. ‘Is that person you, Miss Maud?’
She has to do some things she despises herself for to get hold of more laudanum and believes herself damned,a wicked one.
But there is one bright light in her existence the budding relationship with John Shawcross who she has met again. But will even this last as circumstances are conspiring against them and when all starts to spiral to its conclusion who will stand by Maud?
I will have to say I felt consumed by it when I was reading this book. What was really going on?
The author has done her research well wich makes the events of this book even more chilling is the fact that these things could and probably did happen in the Victorian era. It was only towards the end I started putting the clues together. And even then I was not completely sure I had it right.
And then we have our heroine...
Several times in this book was not sure I liked Maud,especially when her actions were described by John and I felt she was unreasonable and diffciult. But once i got back into her chapters and minset i started to feel sympathy for her again and rooted for her to find happiness and peace of mind.
I couldnt help but be reminded of Jane Eyre when it came to Maud. You will find yourself asking throughout the book- is Maud just a poor innocent girl or a disturbed young woman. Or maybe she is both. You are kept guessing until the end.
And then there is John.I quite liked John he was nice but not flawless,nor was he this tortured artists soul who went around brooding all the time.
"John Shawcross could not be making much money from his painting, for I noticed his coat was patched. He was some years older than me, with a pleasant, honest face you could not dislike and a smile I found engaging despite my mistrust of men."
Some might think the romance between Maud and John comes too quickly but I dont think this first instance of their relationship was really love..more like infatuation. Until they are torn apart not only by other people but their own actions wich leads to them having to evaluate their true feelings about each other.
It was just something they had to go through and it made me believe in their relationship even more.
The historical setting is captured well with only some minor lapses when it comes to people adressing each other informally and giving someone else permission to use their first name but its only a minor grievance when the rest of it is very good in creating the atmosphere.
The characters feels like they live in the victorian era and are not merely modern people dressed up in period costume. I think it takes place sometime in the 1860s judging by the fact that John believes in Darwins theories,and mention of John wanting to paint Maud in the pre-raphaelite style.
Thinking of Mauds laudanum addcition I couldnt help but wonder if the author was in a way inspired by Elizabeth Siddal(the muse and lover of paintr Gabriel Dante Rosetti) when she wrote this book.
She was painted by several other pre-raphaelite painters and like Maud had artistic abilities.
She also famously overdosed on laudanum.
But this is just a speculation of mine.
I thought I knew I was in for...a historicalYA with a heroine who has been through some bad things and finds herself in a gothic house,there would also be a romance and some obstacle to overcome. The power of the true love would prevail and everyone would live happily ever after
This was before I knew all I know about "Devil in the corner"
This book sets you up and makes you think you know what is going to happen but then it rips away the carpet underneath your feet and makes you feel completely dense for falling for it.
If I have to complain about something its the beginning when the heroine finds out her father has left her without any Money and a teacher at the Girls schools she is attending tells her she will help her get a governess position
Then in the next paragraph its several years later. I would have wished there had been a break between these..or even better if this "prologue" had been deleted completely since it came off akwardly.
I feel this is a worthy sucessor of some the gothics old but the author manages to create something new and exciting from it.
I know its popular to have "x meets y" as a sales pitch and I usually find this corny but if I have to make a comparision this one was like "Alias Grace" meets "Turn of the Screw"
and found myself several times thinking that this book wouldnt look out of place in the adult section.
If you love books with a gothic theme and characters who are psychologically complex-then this is your book.
I for one wont forget it easily.
‘Where is God?’ people asked the vicar. ‘Why doesn’t He stop the devil’s work?’
But how can the devil be stopped when he lives inside you? There is no room for God then.
When young widow Catherine Briton is washed ashore, the sole survivor of a violent shipwreck,all she wants is to go home to London. But injured as she...moreWhen young widow Catherine Briton is washed ashore, the sole survivor of a violent shipwreck,all she wants is to go home to London. But injured as she is, she can’t escape when a shadowy stranger rescues her and takes her to his castle—where she’s healed with suspicious, almost magical speed.
The more time Catherine spends in the castle, the more her curiosity rises where her fiercely handsome new "master," Gerard, is concerned. As she begins to investigate, though, her discoveries only bring more questions. It seems Gerard isn't the only one on the island keeping secrets…
The small town is full of strange mysteries and townspeople who know more than they should about her. And when a hulking beast that stalks the nearby hills and valleys catches up to her, Catherine must figure out what’s going on before it’s too late.
Young widow Catherine Briton is on her way home when the ship she is traveling on is shipwrecked and she and the other survivors are cast adrift in a lifeboat. She tells the sailor in charge that she can see land but he refuses to believe her but betrays himself when he says would never go ashore on the threat of his life
The lifeboat overturns spilling the passengers into the ocean and just as she has conciled herself with her death she is washed ashore and rescued by a dark mysterious man who appears to be the master of the island.
She is taken to his mansion to recover but is disbelieving when the Master tells her there is no way to leave the island.Impossible! She has to get back to her own life,there are people depending on her. But the Master,who says his name is Gerard maintains that her new life is on Ynos Nos...the dark island.
She cant really complain too much about her new situation since she is given every courtesy but that doesnt changer her determination to get back to the real world
Gerard,the master is fascinated by her stubborness and refusal to treat him with deference like the rest of the inhabitants of the island and soon that fascination turns to passion wich has Catherine anxious since events in her past and her being a proper and prim victorian woman wont allow her to give in to her feelings. But she cant help herself from time to time.
The writing style has these little touches and a way of conveying the strangeness and at times creepiness of Ynos Nos I could go into more detail but then I would spoil the book. Lets just say it like this it is a very peculiar place but but the people living on the island has more or less come with terms with the strangeness even if some things are harder to get used to than others.
Gerard and the island has a lot of secrets but so does Catherine and we slowly find out some of them.
If I have some complaints its these.
I felt at times Catherine was abit back and forth about her feelings. One moment she is happily kissing Gerard only to in the next be overcome by guilt and reject his advances because she feels some guilt Or she judges him for events that happened way before they even met .Shes a bit what you would call a tease. It was a bit tiresome but judging by some instances in the book where there is references to the bible I cant help wonder if these decisisons regarding Catherines choices in the book has some thing to do with the author having strong beliefs. But I didnt feel the message was violently hammered into the narrative like some inspirational/christian authors tend to do. It was just present.And I felt it should be mentioned.
The ending felt very surreal and a rushed, but it was kind of keeping with the running theme in the book but I can see some readers be put off by it,I know I was a bit puzzled by it and I love the weird. But when I think back on it yes the ending could have been better but as the saying goes the whole is greater than the sum of its parts."
And there were many good parts
I hope my complaint doesnt keep people from picking up this book since it I love the Beauty and the beast fairytale and this is a very original take on it and the gothic genre. (less)
It was just so clumsily written,with characters blurting out everything. The dialogue lacks any sublety and I c...moreI have to say I didnt like this at all.
It was just so clumsily written,with characters blurting out everything. The dialogue lacks any sublety and I cant believe after someone has tried to drown you that the first thing that comes to mind is chitchat with your rescuer.
Then I realized I was being towed ashore. Strong arms lifted me, carried me up onto the shore and set me down, where I lay, panting and weak from the shock of what I had undergone. I tried to open my eyes, but it was too much of an effort. "Laura . . . Laura . . . are you hurt? Laura . . . answer me. Open your eyes. It's Peter." "Peter," I said in wonderment. "Is it really you, Peter?" "Of course, it is," he answered gently. "What in the world happened? No . . . don't answer. Just rest. You're exhausted." I felt sudden relief flow through me and I opened my eyes and attempted to sit up, but the effort was too much. I lay back. "How did you happen to come here?" I asked, my tone grateful. "Mama said you'd been to call."
She was drowning you numbskull..you just saved her from drowning.You were there you know.
You would have expected with a gothic that there would be...well a gothic atmosphere it fell short there too. Or even a convincing historical atmosphere as no one talks in the proper way.Oh and our heroine has a 26 year old chaperone who she has been traveling through Europé with.They were supposed to go to the Orient next. THE ORIENT I find myself a bit baffled by this.
Its the mid-victorian era (or so I think) I think Europe is plausible but to send a young miss to the orient with only a flighty and flirty companion kind of stretches credibility somewhat.
If you want a good gothic look elsewhere...like oh say The Secret Of Mirror House It has plenty of gothic goodness and a truly frightening near drowning of the heroine.(less)
It all starts with the heroine Kathleen Bodmun running around on the moors looking for a stray kitten and gettin...more**spoiler alert** This book was scary!
It all starts with the heroine Kathleen Bodmun running around on the moors looking for a stray kitten and getting caught in a rainstorm. She is forced to seek shelter in a nearby building,wich turns out to be an old abandoned inn.
At once she feels that there isnt something quite right about the place..a sinister atmosphere,and what is that strange tapping sound?
She is further scared when a man appears and wonders what the hell she is doing there
Feeling quite embarrassed at her state (drenched by the storm) she exclaims that she might think about buying the old inn for her girls school at wich the man seems displeased.
She returns to the place where she is staing with an old friend of her mothers and the womans granddaughter who for no reason dislikes Kathleen.
Turns out the man she encountered was Sir Anthony and that the inn Old Hags Head belonged to the old ladys daughter it was partially burned down after she was found murdered in the cellar.The one suspected of doing it was the daughters husband.
The local people claims that it was the Old Hag who did it though and that you can see her prowling the moors at night.
Things are further complicated when the dead daughters husband Patrick turns up and Kathleen by a various of circumstances finds herself returning to the inn.
You have to suspend disbelief at some things,like how often the heroine finds herself alone (without a chaperone) with some man or how plausible it would be for a 17 year old girl to try to start up a girls school. But I decided to put those thoughts aside and just immerse myself in the story
I also had some inkling about what was behind the strange going ons but that didnt stop me from being genuinely freaked out by what the heroine experienced. Its just something about the way the author described it that made it so creepy.
Especially evocative is when the heroine is stalked by something she thinks is a wild dog and flees for her life in fear. She is found by Sir Anthony and taken to his home where she is put in bed to recover...and then she glances out the window and sees a figure crawling over the moors towards the house....
Now thats what I call the right gothic spirit!
But it did have its flaws apart from those i mentioned.
The romance on the other hand isnt that strong. The hero remains a mystery throughout and the age difference and the speed wich the heroine realizes her feeling did some to keep me from believing in it fully. And his incessant use of "child" in reference to the heroine also does its bit.
A funny thing that I have to mention is that this takes place on the Yorkshire moors and the heroine hails from Cornwall-the other place where so many gothics take place.
I couldnt help but think that the author was making a point there.
If youre looking for a truly scary gothic this is it.
I recommend it..but also that you dont read it late at night. Otherwise your imagination might start playing tricks on you...(less)
The gothic usually has a pretty formulaic plot,and this is no different.Though I was expecting more.
The governess-to-be Catherine Roth arrives at t...more1.5
The gothic usually has a pretty formulaic plot,and this is no different.Though I was expecting more.
The governess-to-be Catherine Roth arrives at the Montmoor mansion where she is to care for the sickly nephew of Lord Andrew Montmoor a recluse with a horrible reputation(because of his family)
Up until this part I was harboring some hope for the book,though I tried to ignore the phrase "pursed lips" being used thrice. Anyone can have their editor slip up.
But then...it started to unravel
Its just too rushed,it doesnt devote itself to building up suspense after the heroine meets the master of the house.
Who is described as "brutally homely" with "sharp angles in his face" and "pale hair"
I just couldnt help but envisage this when I read the "sharp angles" part ;)
Of course this being a gothic the heroine finds herself strangely fascinated by the master of the house. Maybe a little too fast.
I found the heroine to be a little too forthcoming with her answers,in real life if someone asks you a probing question you arent always truthful or blurt out the first thing on their mind. Usually.
Another thing that bugged me was...why is the governess eating dinner with the master,unchaperoned?
Some other questions also arise if Cullen (view spoiler)[is indeed so sickly that he doesnt expect to live out more than two years,why the need for a governess? The heroine doesnt seem to question this either (hide spoiler)]
I suppose this might be answered further along in the series/future novellas,but since I dont think I will be reading those I WILL NEVER KNOW.
Then add the fact that its not even a complete book,for some reason the author decided to cut up her own book in three parts.Instead of one book.there is three novellas This can be confusing to readers who expect to get a full book.
Maybe its an attempt to imitiate the gothic serial novel,but its still very odd.
If I hadnt known about this before I bought the book I would have felt severely cheated despite the low price on the book.
I hesitated by giving it 1 star or 2 stars,but finally had to settle for 1.5 since I cant with god conscience feel that this was an ok book.