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The Girl from Rawblood

3.36  ·  Rating details ·  985 ratings  ·  245 reviews

Winner of BEST HORROR NOVEL (August Derleth Award) at British Fantasy Awards 2016

For generations the Villarcas have died mysteriously, and young. Now Iris and her father will finally understand why. . .

At the turn of England's century, as the wind whistles in the lonely halls of Rawblood, young Iris Villarca is the last of her family's line. They are haunted, throu

Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Published March 7th 2017 by Sourcebooks Landmark (first published September 24th 2015)
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Rebecca Good question that I had wondered about myself. At first I thought it might be Shakes Sr. and Shakes Jr. but as you get into the story that isn't reve…moreGood question that I had wondered about myself. At first I thought it might be Shakes Sr. and Shakes Jr. but as you get into the story that isn't revealed.(less)
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Catriona Ward
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Average rating 3.36  · 
Rating details
 ·  985 ratings  ·  245 reviews

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Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"She comes in the night. Sometimes, in mist or fog. A woman, or once a woman. White, starved...Have you not felt her? Waiting in the shadowed places outside the lamplight, at the bottom of wells. Behind you, in long dark corridors..."

I just explained this book from start to finish in full spoiler-ridden glory to my fiancé. He looked at me afterward, slightly aghast, and said, "The hell did you just read?" Then he started laughing. "How the hell do you review that?"

I'm still struggling to an
Review originally published at Learn This Phrase.

Rawblood opens with the idiosyncratic voice of eleven-year-old Iris Villarca. She lives with her father in a lonely mansion, the titular Rawblood, on Dartmoor. There, he has convinced her of the legend of their family: the Villarcas suffer from a hereditary condition, given the evocative moniker 'horror autotoxicus', and Iris will die young if she neglects to follow his strict set of capital-R Rules. Essentially, the Rules say she must stay away f
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A literary horror story that follows the cursed Villarca family and their ancestral home.

We start in the early 20th century with the last surviving Villarcas, young Iris and her father Allonso living at Rawblood, their estate in Devonshire. Iris lives a sheltered and proscribed existence because of her father's obsession with a curse which has killed everyone in the family for generations. As we get different points of Iris's life the story jumps around in time giving us the story of the family
Aug 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rawblood is a gothic horror love story that falls into the annals of literary classics. Indeed, the undercurrents of the novel whisper of Wuthering Heights, The Turn of the Screw, Rebecca, the Woman in White and others.

At the beginning, we are introduced to the family trees of the Villarca family and that of the Gilmores and the Coulsons. Time unravels in a non linear orientation and we encounter the people (major and minor) in the family tree in what appears to be a random fashion, and their li
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
Oct 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2016
When it comes to horror a Gothic tale has something that with all likelihood always will appeal to me. Add a mysterious family haunted by an entity just called "her" and I'm sold. THE GIRL FROM RAWBLOOD instantly appealed to me with its fascinating cover and interesting description. Iris and her father live in a lonely old mansion on Dartmoor and he warns her that she should never fall in love because strong feelings bring on "her" and when she comes, brutal death will follow. Nevertheless, Iris ...more
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is freaking brilliant. If you like literary gothic horror with a bit of the supernatural and like non linear timelines with plot lines that have puzzles to solve. This book is your jam!
Jul 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We first meet Iris Villarca in 1910 when she is eleven. She lives with her father at Rawblood, a lovely house on Dartmoor. However, although her existence appears idyllic, there are dark issues beneath the surface. The Villarca’s always die young and Iris’s father has implemented, ‘The Rules.’ This means that Iris and her father must live alone, with no servants and no friends. Iris only has one friend – Tom Gilmore, a local boy – but even that is forbidden.

This novel ranges backwards and forwar
Feb 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ng
Set in 1910 in Dartmoor,this ghost story as a unique feel to it, gothic and creepy I loved it.
The author did a fantastic job with the characters,with a awesome setting you felt as if you were there,living and feeling what irises-pest, was going through.
Brilliant back story which jumps to the present and back which the author did effectively and seemingly with appropriate ease, we learn of the curse, I won't give anything away as I believe everyone would enjoy this novel highly recommended it a
BAM The Bibliomaniac
A thank you to Catriona Ward, Sourcebooks, and Netgalley for sharing this copy for an unbiased review.

Ward has an impressive grasp of the metaphor and leads the reader to conclusions instead of blatantly stating what's happened. I appreciate both of those methods.
Ultimately The Girl from Rawblood is a book about love and who belongs together, not just a ghost story. Relegating it to that box would sell it short. It's written like a diamond, facet upon facet, one section shining into the next th
3.5 stars: somewhere between "I liked it" and "I really liked it." Rounding up for a great ending.

This book has strong elements of horror in it; sensitive readers might want to avoid. (Animal violence included.)

It's really hard to describe this book without spoiling anything. It's a gothic novel about a family cursed with a "white lady," who has haunted their ancestral house for generations. It's about Iris, the last daughter of the house. And it's about her family before her and how the curse a
Helene Jeppesen
"Rawblood" by Catriona Ward is a gothic novel written today; meaning that it mingles all of the classical elements of gothic horror and creates a gruesome story. It takes a lot of classical texts that we love such as "Macbeth", "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" as well as Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" and uses them in this modern story about Iris, a young girl who lives in the house of Rawblood with her father. The house is haunted, and there is a curse on Iris and her family which creates compl ...more
Kerry Bridges
Jul 12, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Iris and her father, Alonso, live at Rawblood on Dartmoor. Alonso does not allow Iris to make friends because of the family curse. Iris doesn't want to be lonely so she makes friends with Tom Gilmore. This is a mistake.

I have to say that it was realy difficult to write a first paragraph summary of this story because a) there isn't one and b) what there is is in so many disjointed parts that it makes no sense whatsoever. I really struggled to work out who the characters even were; in fact, the fa
Sue Gedge
I'm sorry, but I didn't enjoy this book very much. It was fine for the first 200 pages, then it became increasingly difficult to understand, and by the end, I didn't have the faintest idea what had happened or why. The book seems to have been written in a deliberately obscure way in order to confuse the reader; there are multiple viewpoints, time-shifts and attempts at over-literary, semi-poetic writing that ultimately are a complete turn off. I ended up feeling deeply frustrated and really rath ...more
Mark Hodder
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
Author's Envy! I wish I'd written this book! Here's why: ...more
Dec 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gothic novel about a family curse, with a ghostly haunting of their estate. The plot goes back and forth in time (from early 1800s to 1919), and has a number of narrators. More sad, tragic and melancholy than it is scary. I really could not feel that close to any of the characters, so the story didn't have as strong an impact with me. There were some very well-written passages in the book. This was the author's first novel, and I'd be interested in reading more of her work as she grows as a writ ...more
Heather *Undercover Goth Queen*
Moving writing, but ultimately the story didn't quite do it for me. A lot of it was quite boring.
Fay Roberts
Aug 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-for-review
On a technical level Rawblood is a masterpiece. It is a well-written, carefully crafted, meticulously researched novel with a strong supernatural plot and Gothic feel. Ward carefully layers the viewpoints of various members of the Villarc family and the story of their inherited haunting, putting all the pieces together and bringing the story back full circle with a beautiful symmetry. One of the most impressive things is how Ward is able to give each of her story telling characters a strong and ...more
Jessica Woodbury
I love a gothic novel but this didn't totally work for me. It is very much in the tradition of the original gothics, complete with spooky old estates, women committed to asylums, cursed families, etc etc. I often enjoy books that jump around in time, and on the surface everything says I should love this kind of book, that also includes queer characters and a complex structure that it's almost a Sarah Waters comp. And yet. It just didn't hold me. I felt like I was meandering through it, circling ...more
I'm in shock. I need a blanket.
And time to go and reread this novel slowly to savour and connect every moment.
My God, I thought I knew what was going to happen. I have rarely been so wrong.
This was mind-boggling in the best way possible. And now I realise that it will rather challenging to write a spoiler free review.
I love books with gothic elements but find most contemporary horror books rather tasteless and predictable. This one however? Wow. The author toyed with several difficult concep
Ed McDonald
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As an author, it's very hard to not to read with a critical eye. You think "I would have done that differently" or "An editor should have caught that." Reading often feels like an exercise in critique.

From the very first page of RAWBLOOD, I knew that I was out of my depth.

The scent and vividness of Ward's prose takes hold from the off and clings tight until the fading of the last. She writes like a master impressionist painter, simultaneously colouring the Devon moors with subtlety, intricacy an
David Reviews
Jul 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This is a chilling sad and haunting tale of a family cursed. Horror in the form of a ghostly white lady dwells in the large isolated Villarca family home of Rawblood on the moors of Dartmoor. For generations she has brought illness if they should leave and when a Villarca marries, falls in love, or has a child, she comes and a horrific bloody death follows as she watches over and witnesses their demise at too young an age.

In 1910 eleven year old Iris and her father are the last in the line of th
Unsung Stories
Feb 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, weird
An incredibly confident piece of work, for a debut particularly so. It's a classic setting for a ghost story - a wealthy family of outcasts, a grandiloquent and isolated house, strained relations with the local population - but it develops this into something really distinct. First and foremost, the writing is excellent, particularly in sections narrated by Iris. Ward has a great sense of imagery and, most importantly, a sense of restraint in the telling. Something critical to ghost stories and ...more
This is a sinister and creepy gothic horror story, written in an authentic turn of the century language in rather disjointed style which made it a little difficult to become fully absorbed in the story.

Beginning with 11 year old Iris Villarca who lives in near seclusion with her peculiar father in a typical crumbling manor house on Dartmoor. Made aware from an early age that she carries a hereditary disease which is the family curse, her father creates rules she must follow to avoid a premature
Sam Still Reading
I just couldn't get into the style of this one, felt like I had to read each sentence several times over. A bit too slow paced for me. Gave up at 25% (just over 100 pages)
DeAnna Knippling
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good gothic haunted house fare. I was starting to get frustrated with the end, excellent twist saved it.
Peter McLean
Aug 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Wow. An unholy blend of Thomas Hardy, Shirley Jackson, and The Wasp Factory. A masterpiece of gothic horror. Not easy, and you have to pay attention, but wow. That was seriously impressive stuff.
Elle Maruska
This started very well and then....went off the rails for me.

I'm not leaving a rating because my feelings on this book may be entirely personal and specific to me and I don't want to grade the book harshly. I went into it with incredibly high hopes for an interesting, creepy, and atmospheric gothic story and I did get that! Lots of atmosphere and twists and creepiness. But the plot just. Made this a very difficult book for me to love.

The problem, I think, is that the author doesn't spend enough
Jun 07, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
i don't do zero stars, since i feel every book should be star-rated regardless... this was unbelievably terrible... i can tell i don't like a book when i stop reading it to clean the cat litterbox, go out to weed my sunflower garden, and then decide to pull small rocks from around the fence of my yard for a while... i have absolutely no understanding of what was going on in this book... gothic? mystery? horror? ramblingmessofshite? i read many of the rave reviews and still can't figure what i mi ...more
I kind of wavered between giving this 4 and 5 stars and then I decided that the very last pages kind of knocked off a star in and of themselves. While the prose was absolutely gorgeous and the classical turn-of-phrase was just right for the time period and atmosphere, the ending felt inordinately rushed. We have the big reveal of "Her" and then a very vague explanation for it. I think I am still trying to wrap my head around it-which is also a good thing. I love novels that stay with me and make ...more
I have mixed feelings about this. To me it began so slow. Then it got to be way to confusing for me. I started losing interest bc I couldn't keep up with all the different voices. I think it could have been better. It has so much more potential.
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Catriona Ward was born in Washington DC and grew up in the US, Kenya, Madagascar, Yemen and Morocco. She studied English at St Edmund Hall, Oxford followed by the UEA Masters in Creative Writing. After living in New York for 4 years where she trained as an actor, she now lives in London and Devon.

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“The little girl looks at me. Horror on her small white face, and fear. She puts her thin child’s body between me and him.” 0 likes
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