Primary Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Gothic Romance
Published: 9 April 2019 by Atria Books
Page count: 320
Memorable Factor: High
Would I recommend it: Yes!
Commission Link: https://amzn.to/2DFDuY7
My rating: ★★★★★
Synopsis from Goodreads
All love stories are ghost stories in disguise.
When famed Byronesque poet Hugh de Bonne is discovered dead of a heart attack in his bath one morning, his cousin Robert Highstead, a historian turned post-mortem photographer, is charged with a simple task: transport Hugh’s remains for burial in a chapel. This chapel, a stained glass folly set on the moors of Shropshire, was built by de Bonne sixteen years earlier to house the remains of his beloved wife and muse, Ada. Since then, the chapel has been locked and abandoned, a pilgrimage site for the rabid fans of de Bonne’s last book, The Lost History of Dreams.
However, Ada’s grief-stricken niece refuses to open the glass chapel for Robert unless he agrees to her bargain: before he can lay Hugh to rest, Robert must record Isabelle’s story of Ada and Hugh’s ill-fated marriage over the course of five nights.
As the mystery of Ada and Hugh’s relationship unfolds, so does the secret behind Robert’s own marriage—including that of his fragile wife, Sida, who has not been the same since the tragic accident three years ago, and the origins of his own morbid profession that has him seeing things he shouldn’t—things from beyond the grave.
I am an enormous fan of Gothic Romance novels – Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte), Rebecca (Daphne du Maurier), Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte), and The Mysteries of Udolpho (Ann Radcliffe) are some of my favorite books. For those that don’t know, Gothic Romance is defined as “a romance that deals with desolate and mysterious and grotesque events”. Gothic novels often incorporate supernatural and psychological elements within a romantic story. The book I am reviewing today ticked off every box there is for a fantastic Gothic Romance in my opinion. On the surface, this is a tragic love story that spans generations… but oh, it is so much more than that! Here are my pros and cons:
- The characters in this book were spot on! They were well-developed and had great back stories. All characters had an air of mystery about them that complemented the overall story so well.
- The atmosphere of this book was also spot on! Gorgeously eerie and perfectly haunting, but not scary. The author created an incredible sense of anxiety and unease that permeated from the book.
- The writing style was incredible. The exquisitely written words effortlessly flowed from the pages and enveloped me. I almost felt like I was part of the story instead of just reading the story.
- Not 20 pages into the book and I was hit with the first, of many, unexpected revelations in this story! Man do I love a book that just keeps hitting me with new information I didn’t expect and didn’t see coming! This book kept me on my toes and I LOVED IT!
- As with the some of the classic Gothic romances I mentioned above, this one also contained psychological and supernatural elements that were incredibly well done. With obsessive and destructive love, a whole heap of grief, and a ton of family secrets thrown into the mix, you simply have a fantastic recipe for a wonderful Gothic novel.
- As I was reading this book, I found myself noticing that this story had a bit of a fairy tale element to it as well. Two significant characters worked with birds (tamed and trained them) and that just gave off a strong fairy tale feel to me. Fairy tales, particularly as originally written, can be very dark and foreboding… and sometimes downright violent. So the fairy tale feeling in this book wasn’t distracting to me – I liked how it incorporated a dark whimsy to the story.
- I appreciated the comparison of the characters in the story with mythological Orpheus and Eurydice.
- “Every love story is a ghost story.” How can you pass up a book with a tagline like that?!?!
- None. I loved it.
I think I love Gothic novels so much because they challenge a reader by taking to you the very depths of fear and despair and then raise you back up to pure joy. They can invoke fear and foreboding just as easily as love and contentment. They can make you cry from grief and cry from happiness. They are spooky and joyous, dark and light, death and life. You get everything from a great Gothic novel, and this particular book delivered it all!
If you are a fan of Gothic romance, you really should read this book. It is surprising, unsettling, creatively written and worth a read.
Thank you NetGalley and Atria Books for a free electronic ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
If you would like to read this book for yourself, please consider purchasing through this link: https://amzn.to/2DFDuY7. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.