Today I’m featuring recommendations based on one of my top reads of 2016, Black Rabbit Hall, Eve Chase’s debut novel that’s deliciously gothic and full of family secrets with a grand old estate that’s every bit as much of a character as the people who lived in it. Interested in my thoughts on this one? Check out my review.
Ghosts are everywhere, not just the ghost of Momma in the woods, but ghosts of us too, what we used to be like in those long summers . . .
Amber Alton knows that the hours pass differently at Black Rabbit Hall, her London family’s country estate, where no two clocks read the same. Summers there are perfect, timeless. Not much ever happens. Until, of course, it does.
More than three decades later, Lorna is determined to be married within the grand, ivy-covered walls of Pencraw Hall, known as Black Rabbit Hall among the locals. But as she’s drawn deeper into the overgrown grounds, half-buried memories of her mother begin to surface and Lorna soon finds herself ensnared within the manor’s labyrinthine history, overcome with an insatiable need for answers about her own past and that of the once-happy family whose memory still haunts the estate.
Lost Among the Living by Simone St. James
St. James is an author who has been on my radar for years and I honestly have no idea why I haven’t grabbed one of her books! They seem to be total Leah reads, gothic and dark with a hint of horror and mystery. Lost Among the Living is no exception: England, 1921. Jo is still mourning her husband who was shot down in Germany a few years earlier. She makes ends meet by working as a paid companion to her husband’s wealthy (if ill-mannered) aunt, and joins Dottie as she travels to the family’s country estate. Once they arrive at the house, Jo realizes just how little she knows about this family…like the rumors that they’re cursed, for example. And the mysterious death of another relative. I’m all about big houses and dark secrets!
House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick
If the pitch includes the phrase “for fans of Kate Morton” you better believe I’ll be reading it! This one features one of my all-time FAVORITE storytelling devices: dual eras. Bouncing between the 1660s and the present day, House of Shadows is about a man who’s researching his family tree when he suddenly disappears. His sister begins a frantic search and, along the way, uncovers an antique mirror and an old diary of a courtesan who was living in their house when it burned down 200 years ago. As she digs deeper into the mystery the diary holds, she hopes the answers revealed will lead her to her brother. The blurb also mentions a Winter Queen and yep I’m on board with this one!
Smoke by Dan Vyleta
This one comes out May 24 and I’ve been seeing some serious buzz! Unlike the other recommendations, this one is historical fantasy and I’m intrigued. This is an England where anyone who has evil or wicked thoughts emits a smoke from their body. Unless, of course, they’re a member of the aristocracy. There’s an elite boarding school, teachers with inside ties to the government, and a grand estate with hidden rooms and laboratories. And what’s a story without a little murder? I’m still on the fence with this one so I think I’ll wait until more reviews come out, but so far people are raving over this one!
The Devil in the Corner by Patricia Elliott
I was a little surprised to see a YA novel included in the recs, but I’m open to anything! Maud escapes life as a governess by moving in with a cousin she’s never met. Life with Juliana, however, isn’t exactly what she had hoped for: she’s essentially locked inside the house and made a prisoner; any outside friendships are nixed before they have a chance to form. Maud turns to laudanum and the more she becomes dependent on the drug, the more she begins to wonder if her cousin (or someone) is plotting her demise. Hmm..I’m not sure about this one. I try not to place too much weight on reviews (especially since some of my all-time favorites are books that were brutally destroyed in the media!) but this one doesn’t seem to be too well received. It sounds like it might be interesting, but for now I’m thinking I’ll hold off.
The Firebird’s Feather by Marjorie Eccles
It’s 1911 and soon-to-be King George V is preparing for his coronation, suffragettes are campaigning, and an 18-year-old girl is excited about her debut into London society. Kitty’s world turns upside down, however, when her mother is brutally murdered in Hyde Park and the resulting investigation leads Kitty to the realization that she really didn’t know her mother at all. Yay, more family secrets! A possible affair, is there a link to their Russian background? What does the rest of the household know that they aren’t telling Kitty?
Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman by Tessa Arlen
And we’re ending on a perfect note! I actually received this book (and its just-published sequel, Death Sits Down to Dinner) from the publisher – thanks, Minotaur! This one is the first in the Lady Montfort Mystery series, an Edwardian cozy and I’m actually planning on doing a double-feature review for both books soon, so it’s super fitting that this one popped up on the recommendation page! A summer costume ball, a murdered nephew, the hidden lives of the servants. Yes, yes, yes.