Published: October 5, 2021
Genre(s): adult, historical, gothic, horror
Read as: hardback, owned
Practical, unassuming Jane Shoringfield has done the calculations, and decided that the most secure path forward is this: a husband, in a marriage of convenience, who will allow her to remain independent and occupied with meaningful work. Her first choice, the dashing but reclusive doctor Augustine Lawrence, agrees to her proposal with only one condition: that she must never visit Lindridge Hall, his crumbling family manor outside of town. Yet on their wedding night, an accident strands her at his door in a pitch-black rainstorm, and she finds him changed. Gone is the bold, courageous surgeon, and in his place is a terrified, paranoid man—one who cannot tell reality from nightmare, and fears Jane is an apparition, come to haunt him.
By morning, Augustine is himself again, but Jane knows something is deeply wrong at Lindridge Hall, and with the man she has so hastily bound her safety to. Set in a dark-mirror version of post-war England, Starling crafts a new kind of gothic horror from the bones of the beloved canon. This Crimson Peak-inspired story assembles, then upends, every expectation set in place by Shirley Jackson and Rebecca, and will leave readers shaken, desperate to begin again as soon as they are finished. (Goodreads)
Do you ever get to the end of a book, having read the entire thing, and find that you just don’t have anything truly definitive to say about it? I find that most often happens with books I’ve rated 3 stars and this time is no different.
Sadly, I did not expect, in the slightest, to be giving this book such a middle ground rating resulting in that lack of feeling. I was excited to read it and, as soon as I was in the mood for a bit of horror, immediately snatched this one off my shelf.
For the first half of the book, it did actually live up to what I hoped. We have the main character Jane who is looking for a husband as her guardians are moving away and has a very clear set of expectations of that husband. She has compiled a list of eligible men who would, in theory, allow her to continue working, would not expect the time-period appropriate wifely duties of baring children, and for the most part would just leave her alone. Jane finds that match in the local surgeon Augustine.
During that first half of the book, Jane learns more about Augustine and the dark secrets he is quite obviously hiding. She is also learning about herself, her own curiosity, and her willingness to push boundaries. Watching Jane sink farther and farther into the mysteries hiding in Augustine’s mysterious house is wonderful! Her questing and intelligent mind was fun to be in and I was very much looking forward to seeing what came of the ghostly apparitions and Augustine’s erratic nightly behaviors.
Then, the roots of the mysteries start unravelling and Jane begins losing who she is in her obsession with them. At this point, the book kind of lost me. The answers and information that unfold just didn’t feel right to me. Jane’s actions that follow these revelations were equally baffling. It is difficult to follow along and be swept up in a story when the actions the lead character takes cease to make sense with the structure that character had been built with. The conclusion was equally frustrating and, honestly, at that point I had stopped caring.
In a nutshell, the first half of the book was entertaining and kept me engaged and looking forward to picking the book up. The second half, I had stopped caring about the characters and the story just didn’t feel right with the information the reader had been provided previously. If I were rating the two halves separately, I would give the first four stars and the second two stars (hence my overall average of three). Would I pick something up by the author again? Maybe, but it wouldn’t be high on my priority list.