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House of Shadows: An Enthralling Historical Mystery Paperback – October 17, 2017
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"This compelling yet poignant and at times frightening story calls out to every historical fiction lovers out there to read it and enjoy its glory forever"
- Book Stop Corner
"Fans of Kate Morton will enjoy this gripping tale."
"Her books are fabulous."– New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn
"Ms. Cornick is first-class, queen of her game."
"A rising star."
About the Author
International bestselling author Nicola Cornick writes historical romance for HQN Books and time slip romance for MIRA UK. She became fascinated with history when she was a child, and spent hours poring over historical novels and watching costume drama. She studied history at university and wrote her master’s thesis on heroes. Nicola also acts as a historical advisor for television and radio. In her spare time she works as a guide in a 17th century mansion.
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In true time-slip tradition, the thread weaves together their relationships over the centuries – modern day England, a 19th century mistress and a 17th century queen and her courtier. And in each case, the talisman of a precious jewel and a mysterious mirror brings an ominous twist of suspense and doom to the heroines. Against a backdrop of fine historical detail, these women travel towards their destiny, while the house itself waits for them in the shadows.
Each of these women has a counterpoint in the men they have loved, lost and loved again, and the theme that echoes through the centuries is one of courage to make difficult choices, and the rewards of independence. These are women we can all relate to—they love passionately, make mistakes, and have strengths and weaknesses that bring life to every page. Their lovers are not mere shadows either; each of the men who enter their lives is a personality with his own charisma and flaws, and the resulting partnerships are multi-faceted and unpredictable.
When I was reading House of Shadows I was often startled to look up and find myself in my own world, for the story is completely immersive. And when I was finished, I found myself thinking of the characters long after I had put the book down. A gorgeous novel, and a book I will keep close to hand to re-read when I feel the urge to escape to another world.
They say not to judge a book by its cover, but the beautiful cover of House of Shadows immediately caught my attention, making me want this book in my hands. The image alone could sell the book without the interesting blurb or story inside! Upon flipping this book over, readers will learn it is set throughout the hills of Oxfordshire and partially in London, England. I don’t know about you, but I was sold! Since airfare is quite pricey to hop across the pond, I have to settle for being taken there by the hands of authors. Luckily, Nicola Cornick was up for the challenge and created stunning imagery through her writing, easily transporting me not only to another country, but to multiple time periods.
Woven through three separate centuries, this tale begins with Elizabeth Stuart, The Winter Queen, warning her lover, William Craven, to destroy an ornate mirror which brings doom to greedy men. Her life has turned to shambles, she believes, due to the power the mirror possesses. A power many underestimate.
In the present day, Holly learns of the disappearance of her brother, Ben. She decides to leave her cozy life in London and help in the hunt to discover what could have possibly happened to her brother. Upon arriving, she learns Ben was researching the family line at their old Mill house in Ashdown, something he didn’t seem particularly interested in prior in his life – a mystery in itself. Holly soon discovers the handwritten journal of Latvinia Flyte among Ben’s things, telling of her scandalous 19th century life. Shortly thereafter, Holly acquires a mysterious looking-glass deeply connected to the past and expanding the history Holly must sort through.
The story takes readers through time and history, connecting three different women’s lives in the modern era. One of my favorite things about Historical Fiction is being able to absorb the facts through an interesting tale, mixed with just enough fiction to keep the story exciting. This is one of my favorite ways to learn of the past because it keeps my interest, rather than the dull monotone life stories we often get through Non-Fiction. I had no knowledge of the life of Elizabeth Stuart, also known as The Queen of Bohemia prior to reading this novel which alternates between time periods. I was eager to fact check which parts of this story were real with the fiction within the pages, allowing me to further my knowledge of an incredibly interesting historical woman. I enjoyed being able to get to know Elizabeth as a living, breathing woman, rather than a fancy queen in a big dress, painted as a work of art.
Another great aspect of this tale was being able to learn of Lavinia through Holly’s reading of her diary. It added the third perspective in a unique way, allowing readers to experience both Holly in the present and Lavinia in the past simultaneously. Like Holly, I couldn’t help rooting for Lavinia and hoping her trials in life would turn into success. I was constantly on the edge of my seat hoping to learn more about her mysterious life and how she could possibly be connected to the story.
I found all three time periods within the pages to feature quite interesting storylines. When the setting would switch between chapters I was often so caught up in one perspective, I would be disappointed with the change and wanted to continue reading about the characters I was with at the moment. The changing perspectives were done so well by the author and was a great tactic in keeping the reader’s interest throughout the book. Only occasionally would I find the present storyline with Holly to be dragging and not quite as exciting as the past perspectives of Elizabeth and Lavinia. This was the sole reason I knocked a star off of my final rating, giving four stars instead of the full five. However, the addition of a love interest for Holly and being able to experience the unexpected tidbits of romance within her story was a pleasant surprise, allowing her viewpoint to be more of an experience, rather than the search for her brother being the only aspect of her story.
House of Shadows was an interesting story across the board — full of romance, mystery, history, superstition, and heartbreak. I highly recommend this unique and fully immersing novel. This will be one I reflect on for months to come.
This book will not only look lovely on your shelf, but will keep you captivated until the very end.
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My Rating: 4½/5 stars
For 350+ years, the ruins of Ashdown House has been a source of...Read more