Top positive review
Brings the horrors of history to life
May 5, 2019
I almost didn't buy this book because I thought the cover was so creepy! I didn't think I could handle it because the image frightened me so much. But you know what they say. Don't judge a book by the cover, and after reading the description, I knew I had to give it a try. "This is a dark story of human cruelty, folklore and superstition. But the human spirit can and will prevail...unless of course, the wrath of the fae is incited..." Umm, yes please? Color me intrigued!
So yes, there is some disturbing material, as noted in the description. A lot of ghastly horrors took place in Victorian mental health institutions, and the book didn't shy away from this awful history. Trigger warning: rape.
The story is written in alternating viewpoints between Flora in 1893 and Isobel of the present. Isobel rents an isolated apartment in rural Wales, trying to escape the ghosts who haunt her, only to discover that her apartment isn't as peaceful and quiet as she was led to believe. No one seems to want her in town, most particularly the neighbors who are renting the building to her. Why would they despise her presence so much when she was paying them to be there? Only one person is interested in being friendly, and that is Branwen, a local witch (who was my favorite character. I loved Branwen!).
Flora finds herself locked up in a mental institution for an unknown reason where she is tortured and given 'moral therapy.' She doesn't know why she's there, but longs for her baby and her sister. She remembered being told she was going to a retreat for gentlewomen to rest and recuperate...but that is not what she finds in the asylum.
Isobel and Branwen must solve the mystery of the old estate to bring peace to the restless spirits and the fae. I couldn't put it down and finished this book in a day. It was creepy and sad, terrible and well-written. The author did an excellent job bringing the horrors of history to life and the ending was satisfactory. For someone who's interested in a dark psychological thriller with a hint of the supernatural and superstition that doesn't shy away from or sugarcoat the tragic realities of life in a Victorian asylum or the many cruelties that humans can inflict upon each other -- check it out.