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Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling

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3.26  ·  Rating details ·  755 ratings  ·  181 reviews
When the nanny to the young Darrow boys is found mysteriously murdered on the outskirts of the village of Blackfield, Charlotte Markham, the recently hired governess, steps in to take over their care. During an outing in the forest, they find themselves crossing over into The Ending, "the place for the Things Above Death," where Lily Darrow, the late mother of the children ...more
Paperback, 296 pages
Published July 24th 2012 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published July 1st 2012)
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Average rating 3.26  · 
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Arie
3.5 stars

This book had so much potential! If you saw my status updates you'll know how excited I was for it when I started reading it. However, by the third part of the book I had pretty much lost track of what was going on - and almost stopped caring because of this.

The prose was beautiful, lush and descriptive. Overly descriptive. In many ways, it reminded of of Kirsty Eagar's Night Beach, in that the fantasy part of the story made very little sense but yet was beautifully rendered. Boccacino
...more
Sheila
Jul 25, 2012 rated it liked it
This was a strange one. Don't read this book if you:

* Like historical accuracy. This book was set in "the past" (no clue when it was supposed to be), but everyone talked and acted modern.
* Want to read a gothic. There are elements here, certainly, but I would call this a dark fantasy instead.
* Like clear, sensical plots. This was jumbled.
* Like consistent characters with clear motivations (the protagonist in this book makes some bizarre, irrational decisions).
* Don't like horror. I wouldn't call
...more
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
Here's the thing: if this is a Victorian-ish inspired alterna-reality, then this book rocks. However, if it is meant to be a Victorian historical, with supernatural elements à la Henry James, then this book is kind of a big fail. From the start, the setting of the story is fuzzy: I just assumed it was Victorian, from the cover design and the ghostly mystery, but there's nothing specific in the text to place it there, and so my reading -- and review -- might be totally off.

Reminiscent of DuMaurie
...more
Laura
Jun 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was one of those "oh I wish there were a 4.5 rating" books!

When I started, I thought it would be Rebecca or Jane Eyre-esque: genteel widowed governess in a remote manor home with a recent widower and his two sons. But shortly into it I realized there was a serious dose of Jonathan Strange here.

We open with the murder of Nanny Prum. A witness swears there's a black man to blame, but the village constable thinks it was the work of a savage beast. One of the daily activities Nanny and the boys
...more
Stephanie
Jul 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
POSTED ORIGINALLY: Fangs, Wands and Fairy Dust


Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling
by Michael Boccacino
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks: An Imprint of Harper Collins
Original edition (July 24, 2012)
File Size: 5 KB
Print Length: 320 pages
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; Original edition (July 24, 2012)
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
Disclosure: E-Galley provided by writer without expectation. No remuneration was exchanged and, except as noted, all opinions herein are
...more
Lost In My Own World Of Books
Just look at this cover!! I love horror stories and I was fascinated by this one. I was really enjoying my reading. Unfortunately there was a time in this book that I lost myself because so much was going on and so many characters, I got confused.
Ryan
Aug 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
I have never thought about reading a slightly lighter Lovecraftian tale told within the confines of a Victorian Gothic novel. It's not something that I even considered before, but now that I've read it, I'm slightly confused as to the reason why nobody thought of doing this before. Now when I say Victorian and Gothic, I'm still speaking of terms of being slightly lighter. None of the thematic elements really dominate the structure of the novel. Instead it's like the author used them as the basic ...more
Vicki
Jan 06, 2014 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Leslie
Jul 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, gothic
Charlotte Markham, the newly hired governess to young James and Paul Darrow, finds herself taking on additional responsibilities when Nanny Prum is discovered murdered in the nearby forest. The children’s mother has recently passed away and their father has little time for them.

Charlotte, now both governess and nanny, spends much of her time with the boys. As a break in the monotony of their lessons Charlotte has them describe their previous night’s dreams in a drawing. Paul claims to have visit
...more
Chelsea Pitcher
Aug 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Initial reaction: Wicked, twisted, dark and delicious. This was a wild ride!

Overall review: I loved this book so much. Boccacino is a master of descriptions, and I was immediately drawn into the lush dual landscapes of Everton and The Ending. One of the things that delighted me about this story is that Boccacino would lull me into a false sense of security by creating a setting that felt vaguely familiar and relatable, and then wham! Everything shifted, the petals of the story unfolded, and sudd
...more
Melissa
Sep 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, horror
See my other reviews at Never Enough Books

A lovely governess; a handsome widower and his two sons; a fog shrouded forest, and a ghastly mysterious murder. So sets the stage for Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling, the first novel by Michael Boccacino.

Charlotte Markham is the governess to the young Darrow boys. When their nanny is found murdered in a most gruesome fashion, it is Charlotte who steps in to take care of the boys. It is when during one of their daily walks that they encounter
...more
Kirsty
Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
Review written in 2012.

Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling, billed as ‘a Victorian Gothic tale’, is American author Michael Boccacino’s debut novel. The story takes place in a country home named Everton on the edge of an English village named Blackfield.

The story opens with ‘the dance of the dead’, in which we are introduced to the protagonist’s late husband and parents. Echoes of the Victorian Gothic genre are apparent from the first page, and it feels from the outset as though somethi
...more
Donnelle
Jun 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book has a lot going for it, and very few things that I can criticize or nitpick. In regard to the latter, there are a couple of elements that aren't exactly the height of unpredictability; there is a fair amount of gore and gruesomeness (especially near the end); and the summary is not kidding when it states that it revolves around death, losing loved ones (particularly parents and spouses), grief and the grieving process, et. al. I know that some readers would rather steer of that kind of ...more
Chelsea
dnf @ 5% i could tell when the heroine paused to admire herself in the mirror after having a terrible dream and hearing the screams of the damned that i wasn't going to like this one. add a side of deep confusion about everything happening in the first chapter and we get another one for the DNF pile. ...more
Melanie
Aug 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Dark, twisted and clever. Is there anything more satisfying than a battle of wits?
Katie
Apr 16, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars.

Thoroughly enjoyed it although the ending lost me a little bit; there was a lot of characters all of a sudden and I'm not quite sure I understand what the big fight really was all about. Still, I loved the setting, the horror-elements and the weirdness of it all!
...more
Laura
Aug 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
“I have seen beyond the bounds of infinity and drawn down daemons from the stars...I have harnessed the shadows that stride from world to world to sow death and madness...”
(“From Beyond”, H.P. Lovecraft)

Charlotte Markham is haunted by death. As a young child she witnessed a man in black appear at her sick mother’s bedside before she took her last breath, then again whilst her father’s heart gave out and finally when her husband saved her from their burning house. And although she suspects that t
...more
Jennifer Hufford
Apr 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
The author describes the novel on his web site with the comment, "Think of it as 2 cups Jane Eyre, 6 oz of Lovecraft, and a tbsp of Tim Burton", which I think is a perfect description. Also throw a bit of The Turn of the Screw and the movie, The Others, into the mix. Charlotte Markham has been a governess to James and Peter Darrow at the Everton estate for the past nine months when their Nanny Prum is violently and mysteriously murdered in the forest one night. Charlotte takes over as nanny to t ...more
Sandy Lu
In the spirit of Sheridan LeFanu, Wilkie Collins, and Edgar Allan Poe, Michael has crafted a fascinating and disturbingly dark Freudian fairy tale for grown-ups and given us a different sort of Faustian monster in Mr. Whatley. The atmosphere crackles, but beneath it all is a sly sense of humor. The novel is epic in scope, but deeply human in its concerns. Not since Coraline unlocked a door and discovered a distorted mirror-world has the simple act of walking through a dense fog revealed such a p ...more
Star
Aug 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
“Charlotte Markham and The House of Darkling” is a disturbingly gothic tale, set in semi-Victorian times. Charlotte Markham has always noticed the ‘man in black’ – he was there when her mother died, her father died, and her husband died. After Charlotte’s husband passed away, she was hired to be the governess for the Darrow boys, James and Paul. Their mother had died and their father had become remote, so they only had Charlotte and Nanny Prum to guide them. When Nanny Prum is found brutally mur ...more
Becky
Apr 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The Darrow family has suffered great loss of late -- Mrs. Darrow passed away after a long battle with illness and the boy's nanny has recently been murdered, Charlotte Markham, the new governess, steps up as surrogate nanny in addition to her position, determined to do what's best for the boys. After all, Charlotte herself knows great loss as well. While exploring the woods one day, Charlotte and the boys come across a strange house. The House Darkling exists in a different world, one in which M ...more
Victoria
Jul 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I'm ashamed to admit that as an avid reader I have yet to read a stitch of Lovecraft, therefore I can't draw a comparison as have many other reviewers. What I can say is that I loved the author's ability to vividly paint a story with word craft.

A surreal story of death and those left behind, Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling takes place in some country estate in the somewhen English village of Blackfield. Governess Charlotte Markham tries to discover the mystery behind the murder of t
...more
Sharon Burgin
Described as a ‘Victorian Gothic Tale’ this is the story of Charlotte Markham who after the death of her husband becomes governess to young Paul and James Darrow. Lily Darrow, their mother, had died the previous year and their father doesn’t spend much time with them, preferring to mourn in private.

The boys’ nanny, Nanny Prum, is viciously murdered, resulting in Charlotte caring for the boys full-time. One day in class she asks the boys to draw what they dream about. One of the boys draws a map
...more
Elisa
Oct 29, 2012 rated it did not like it
I wanted to like this book, I really did. It had such promise- roots in Gothicism, comparisons to the Brontes, a recommendation as a good fall read from Flavorwire- but none of those quite panned out. The writing, while hardly juvenile, seemed contrived, almost an affectation. I'm sure Michael Boccacino is not without talent, but in this case it seemed as though he was using his admittedly vast imagination to describe what he thought might make a good movie. The ending result was rather too much ...more
Sarah
Dec 25, 2012 rated it liked it
1/1 - I'm enjoying the story except for the irritating anachronisms - I seriously doubt they knew what a 'bar' was in the 19th centuryish era this is supposed to be, maybe taproom, tavern or saloon, but not bar. There is also nothing to tell us where this is set, US or UK - I mean it could be anywhere from New Hampshire to Edinburgh (there's no evidence of accents, but then considering the lack of other details I wouldn't have really expected to see an "aye" or a "nae"). To be continued...

2/1 -
...more
Kara Rae Garland
Jul 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Somehow three stars doesn't seem like enough, but four seems slightly too many. I enjoyed this book very much, but felt that it started out far too slow and continued in that manner for far too long. There wasn't enough phantasmagoria (for me) in the middle and the stakes didn't seem quite high enough in the end. So there was some energy lacking for me there. I wasn't as excited as I want to be at those points in a book.

I didn't feel that I got an honest, intimate view of the characters; their i
...more
Cheyenne Blue
Apr 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
The third of four books read between Brisbane and Montreal. Long haul flights with limited reading matter have a way of getting you to read books you might otherwise pass up (see my review of "The Cleft") but I would have read "Charlotte Markham" in any event.

A gothic novel about a governess with care of two children whose mother has died. They find their way through the forest to the House of Darkling, an otherworldly place filled with monsters and the undead.

It took me a bit to get into this;
...more
Kayla
Jul 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling was an interesting book. It was definitely different than what I usually read. The beginning of the book caught my attention right away. I read the first sentence of the book and knew I was going to love it. The middle of the book got boring at times, especially with all the politics being talked about. The ending left me a little frustrated because the reader never gets a direct answer about what happens to Charlotte. It left off with the reader drawi ...more
Laura
Dec 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book was awesome. While reading it I felt like it was Jayne Eye, Coraline, and Turn of the Screw all mashed together with some Lovecraft thrown in. Come to find out, all those were books the author listed as inspiration for the book! Beautifully crafted story, I would like it to be a movie just to see the dinner party scene. I am very excited to see more by this author, phenomenal work for a first novel.
Karen Rye
Jul 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
If the Brontë sisters spent the evening with Neil Gaiman and China Miéville, I suspect this would be the result.

Governess, undead mother, tentacled villains. I mean seriously, what more do you need? A great and thoroughly entertaining read with just enough scares and thrills to keep you avidly turning pages.
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