Read an eARC from NetGalley
Content warning: gore, blood, old-timey surgery, miscarriage, vivisection, drug abuse, gaslighting, war, PTSD
Jane Shoringfield thinks she has it all figured out when she gets into a marriage of convenience with the handsome Doctor Augustine Lawrence. She gets to continue being an accountant without the other trappings of marriage. Things aren’t as they seem, however, when she spends the night at Lindridge Hall. Things go bump in the night, red-eyed ghosts visit, and Doctor Lawrence has friends with more occult interests. Next comes a whirlwind of chaos magic, unfinished rituals, intricate mathematics, and scares perfect for fans of Crimson Peak and Penny Dreadful.
The author Caitlin Starling will be featured on the blog on October 4th, the eve of release date.
This book is so goth. It’s steeped in atmosphere where there’s a sense of loss, longing, and things not quite being gone. There’s the typical decaying manor in the countryside. There are servants who don’t stay the night. But even on the city side, there is a tragedy and mourning suggesting a wider world. Though the story remains individualistic in its scope, the world-building really worked for me.
What I also really liked is how much care Starling puts into establishing the world. It’s not quite Earth, but the tragedies feel familiar. She intricately sets up Shoringfield’s PTSD as it relates to a war that took place in Great Breltain. That kind of character work lends itself so well to a story featuring ghosts, especially when there are hints that the main character has dealt with her some of her trauma. But now there is new, never-before-seen nonsense. It adds tension on a psychological level that raises the stakes and elevates the scares.
I greatly enjoyed the chemistry between Jane and Augustine. Even from the opening of “oh no, he’s hot,” to the gruesome events that unfold, there’s a romance there that feels so true to the gothic horror genre. It’s tender at times, but also completely horrifying. That ebb and flow does wonders for the pacing, adding in tension when you’re waiting for the next round of supernatural shenanigans.
There is one chapter at the very end which I will not speak of, but if you heard a high-pitched keening noise in the last week, that was me being absolutely delighted. If you enjoyed the game-changing twist of Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir, you are in for a treat with this one.