I received a copy from Netgalley.
I love gothic horror mysteries and that premise was what attracted me to this book immediately. However, this book didn’t really fulfil my personal idea of a gothic horror mystery. That being said, the mystery aspect was really good and I really enjoyed the story.
It starts in 1966 and tells through news articles of a report granted a visit to a once grand house and the lady, Maud, who owns the property. The lady is a recluse and as a child witnessed the descent into madness of her father. No one really knew what happened (this was back in 1913) and the house seems to have remained in a similar state since. The reporter has been digging into the history of the father and the mystery surrounding the demise of a once prominent and respected man from a highly well to do family. There’s rumours of witchcraft and devil worship and all sorts of superstitious things.
The lady retells the story as she remembers it and her father growing up from when she was a small child to when she was a teenager and when the incident happens. The story tells of Maud’s troubled adolescence - she’s an intelligent child who wants more out of life than what her station will allow. Her father is a tough man to please – a historian. As she grows up Maud eventually manages to convince her father to allow her to use his library also helping with his translation of an old text with a religious theme.
We see passages as well from the father’s notebook, detailing his inner thoughts as the situations occur, with Maud, with his research and a secret from his childhood which haunts him and is driving him to the brink of madness. There’s a definite religious overtone to the father’s inner journals, demons and sins and secrets and penance and so forth. Though it’s well handled without being overly dramatic and overly preachy.
Maud discovers her father’s journals and begins her own investigations. It’s really quite fascinating and once you get used to the style of writing hard to put down. I’m not recapping a lot of the plot as it would be very spoilery. Maud was a really likeable heroine, strong willed and sensible, her voice was very easy to follow and as the novel evolves as a reader you really want her to succeed in her tasks.
There was nothing remotely scary or chilling about it so it didn’t hit the horror mark for me, but it was quite atmospheric. The mystery was really good and it had a satisfying ending. I really enjoyed the book and would definitely read something by this author again.
Thanks to Netgalley and Head of Zeus for approving my request to view the title.