A castle. A curse. A dangerous summer. Leo has invited Kate and a few friends to spend the summer at his inheritance, Darkmere Castle: as wild and remote as it is beautiful. Kate thinks it will be the perfect place for her and Leo to get together - but instead, she's drawn into the dark story of a young nineteenth-century bride who haunts the tunnels and towers of the house. And whose curse now hangs over them all.
Review (Possible Spoilers!)
My thanks to Chicken House for supplying me with a review copy of Darkmere.
Darkmere follows the story of two young women; Kate and Elinor, as they experience adventure, love, heartbreak and fear...the only thing is that they experience it two hundred years apart!
Elinor is the youngest daughter of a privileged and well respected family who finds herself forced into a marriage with the alluring Mr St Cloud. Mr St Cloud is handsome, rich and full of charisma but when Elinor travels to his newly built castle, Darkmere, she suspects that her husband is hiding a terrible secret.
Kate on the other hand is the new girl at school trying to fit in. When she is invited to Darkmere by the coolest guy at school she is thrilled and excited only to find disappointment and apprehension when greeted by the castle's stone walls. Darkmere is now a derelict ruin covered in dust and secrets and Kate is convinced something...or someone...lurks in the shadows.
I found Darkmere to be a very interesting and captivating story which I couldn't put down. I usually find ghost stories to be a bit cliché but was happy to find this one kept me guessing. I think this is due to the characters who had more depth to them than the typical school-kids-get-scared-to-death characters you get in movies.
Kate, for me, was a relatable character who tries to use logic to explain away the scary scenarios she found herself in as she uncovers the secrets of Darkmere and its master.
Elinor was my favourite character however because of her strength and determination and I feel that, as a character, Elinor makes the biggest journey within the book.
Maslin has created in Darkmere a refreshing and alluring ghost story where past and present collide into one form. There is so much that I would love to include in this review but I feel it would be revealing too much and, after all, the best thing about a mystery is figuring it out!
With this in mind I want to end this review by expressing my thanks once again to Chicken House and stating that I would recommend this book to any YA (above 14 years), NA and Woman's Fiction enthusiast!
The reign of Richard II is troubled, the poor are about to become poorer still and landowners are lining their pockets. It's a case of every man for himself, whatever his status or wealth. But in a world where nothing can be taken at face value, who can you trust? The dour wool merchant? His impulsive son? The stepdaughter with the hypnotic eyes? Or the raven-haired widow clutching her necklace of bloodstones?
And when people start dying unnatural deaths and the peasants decide it's time to fight back, it's all too easy to spy witchcraft at every turn.
My thanks to bookbridgr for sending me a review copy of this book.
I have always had an interest in the idea of witches and the incredible lengths people used to go to in order to find and prevent witchcraft;
"If a witch tries to bewitch you, spit on her so that the spittle lands between her eyes. that will break the spell." (quote from The Vanishing Witch, Karen Maitland)
The Vanishing Witch tells a story from several viewpoints, including a ghost! Each character is alluring and interesting to read on their own, but when put together the reader is left with a book rich in murder, betrayal, anger, fear and conspiracy that is addictive to read.
Set in the backdrop of a poor and struggling Lincoln the characters are each trying to make the most of what is left to them, whether it be a slowly drowning business, the saving of a long dead marriage or the irrespirable temptation of a lover. Robert, a proud and respected man finds himself the centrepiece between a suspicious son, an alluring woman he cannot ignore and a step-daughter so strange and whimsical that trouble travels with her.
For me the most intriguing character and the one I found the most perplexing. the ghost gives the definition to people-watching!
I found I was asking who is this person? Why are they watching the other characters?
The book is well written and despite the presence of several story arcs, is easy to follow as the book progresses.
Maitland has created a book that spans a story of surprises and characters that keeps you guessing until the drama packed end!
Every girl in England, now, under the circumstances, made sure to be a good Catholic girl. Except her, of course. And, if only she knew it, me.
Escorting 'nine days queen' Jane Grey across the Tower of London from throne room into imprisonment is Elizabeth Tilney, who surprised even herself by volunteering for the job. All Elizabeth knows is she's keen to be away from home, she could do with some breathing space. And anyway, it won't be for long: everyone knows Jane will go free as soon as the victorious new queen is crowned. Which is a good thing because the two sixteen-year-olds, cooped up together in a room in the Gentleman Gaoler's house, couldn't be less compatible. Protestant Jane is an icily self-composed idealist, and catholic Elizabeth is... well, anything but.
They are united though by their disdain for the seventeen-year-old to whom Jane has recently been married off: petulant, noisily-aggrieved Guildford Dudley, held prisoner in a neighbouring tower and keen to pursue his perogative of a daily walk with his wife.
As Jane's captivity extends into the increasingly turbulent last months of 1553, the two girls learn to live with each other, but Elizabeth finds herself drawn into the difficult relationship between the newlyweds. And when, at the turn of the year, events take an unexpected and dangerous direction, her newfound loyalties are put to the test.
Firstly may I thank Netgalley for allowing me access to this book.
Now...to the review...
How would you react if you were locked up in a confined space with a stranger? What if this person was not only a stranger to you but also someone who has come from a completely different walk of life to you? Awkward doesn't begin to cover it.
When Elizabeth volunteers to be locked in the tower alongside Jane Grey she has no idea what is in store for her, all she thinks about is how she wants to run away from her secrets and the lies she has told.
On meeting Jane, Elizabeth finds herself on the backdrop of one of the most historical conspiracies against Mary Tudor just after she became queen. Jane Grey is plain and only interested in her books, generating a very difficult relationship between the two girls as they learn to co-exist with one another.
I have read several of Suzannah Dunn's books in the past and have never found her a disappointing read. Her books always tell history in an exiting way and often from the viewpoint of a background character, The Lady of Misrule being another example of this.
By telling the story through Elizabeth's eyes the viewer travels through Jane Grey's story in a less subjective way. I found myself wondering what would have been going through Jane's mind as she waited to discover her fate with only her books to keep her distracted. Did she miss her husband? Was she lonely? Was she angry with her parents for proclaiming her a queen? These are the type of questions that anyone would have wondered at the time, especially if they were forced to live with Jane day in, day out.
I don't want to give too much away about the ending but I will say that it came upon me by surprise, I was expecting more and wanted to know more about Elizabeth's life when she left the tower and returned to normal society. However I think the fact the book finished so suddenly worked well as someone who had been in Elizabeth's shoes would have felt disorientated on trying to go back to her normal life before Jane. I think the ending reinforces this.