I’ve read some real stinkers lately but luckily this gentle gothic mystery wasn’t one of them.
The story begins in London, 1925, with young Ivy Radcliffe hurrying to her appointment with an unknown solicitor. Ivy lives a life of poverty and struggle in the East End. She has lost her whole family somewhat recently, her father and brother in the trenches of the Great War and her mother of illness soon after. The solicitor informs Ivy that she is now Lady Hayward, inheritor of the grand estate Blackwood Abbey in Yorkshire. This newly minted viscountess is off to a life of comfort and stability in the country. Not everything is perfect now of course. The weather is gloomy, the abbey imposing, the servants foreboding but Ivy is determined not to be scared away because the library is magnificent. Our bookish heroine will not be run off by rumors of ghosts or a constant feeling of being watched, oh no!
You can probably tell by the plot description that this book follows the usual gothic map in a way I found comforting if a little predictable- there’s a brooding hero, a secret society, the villain will probably be who you think it is. I did still find it enjoyable though and a quick read. Who among us hasn’t had the ‘I’ve inherited a grand estate’ daydream? I’ll admit at this point in my life my first thoughts for Ivy were who is responsible for cleaning the place and how much does it cost to heat a whole Abbey but that quickly faded away as I got into the story. I would recommend this as a cozy gothic to curl up with on a rainy afternoon.