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The Curse of Morton Abbey

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Jane Eyre meets The Secret Garden in a gothic novel of romantic suspense set in 1890s Yorkshire. Solicitor Vaughan Springthorpe knows perfectly well that Sir Peter Spencer’s offer of employment seems too good to be true: he hires her sight unseen, offering a suspiciously large salary to prepare the sale of Morton Abbey, his crumbling Yorkshire estate. But few people in late Jane Eyre meets The Secret Garden in a gothic novel of romantic suspense set in 1890s Yorkshire. Solicitor Vaughan Springthorpe knows perfectly well that Sir Peter Spencer’s offer of employment seems too good to be true: he hires her sight unseen, offering a suspiciously large salary to prepare the sale of Morton Abbey, his crumbling Yorkshire estate. But few people in late-Victorian England will entrust their legal affairs to a woman, and Vaughan is desperate to prove herself. Once at Morton, Vaughan discovers that someone is determined to drive her away. An intruder tries to enter her bedroom at night, gunshots are fired outside her window, and an eerie crying echoes from the uninhabited second floor. Even Netherton, the nearest village, seems odd: the picturesque houses and perfect-looking families are haunted by dark secrets connected to Morton Abbey itself. To complete her work and solve the mystery at the heart of Morton, Vaughan needs the help of Joe Dixon, the handsome gardener, and Nicholas Spencer, her employer’s irascible invalid brother. But with her questions diverted, her progress thwarted, and her sleep disrupted by the crying, will Vaughan escape Morton Abbey with her sanity intact or be cursed by the secrets within?


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Jane Eyre meets The Secret Garden in a gothic novel of romantic suspense set in 1890s Yorkshire. Solicitor Vaughan Springthorpe knows perfectly well that Sir Peter Spencer’s offer of employment seems too good to be true: he hires her sight unseen, offering a suspiciously large salary to prepare the sale of Morton Abbey, his crumbling Yorkshire estate. But few people in late Jane Eyre meets The Secret Garden in a gothic novel of romantic suspense set in 1890s Yorkshire. Solicitor Vaughan Springthorpe knows perfectly well that Sir Peter Spencer’s offer of employment seems too good to be true: he hires her sight unseen, offering a suspiciously large salary to prepare the sale of Morton Abbey, his crumbling Yorkshire estate. But few people in late-Victorian England will entrust their legal affairs to a woman, and Vaughan is desperate to prove herself. Once at Morton, Vaughan discovers that someone is determined to drive her away. An intruder tries to enter her bedroom at night, gunshots are fired outside her window, and an eerie crying echoes from the uninhabited second floor. Even Netherton, the nearest village, seems odd: the picturesque houses and perfect-looking families are haunted by dark secrets connected to Morton Abbey itself. To complete her work and solve the mystery at the heart of Morton, Vaughan needs the help of Joe Dixon, the handsome gardener, and Nicholas Spencer, her employer’s irascible invalid brother. But with her questions diverted, her progress thwarted, and her sleep disrupted by the crying, will Vaughan escape Morton Abbey with her sanity intact or be cursed by the secrets within?

30 review for The Curse of Morton Abbey

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*

    EXCERPT: I stood shivering before an imposing stone edifice. The entrance was a gaping archway that looked like a monstrous mouth. Nobody seemed to have tried to beautify the building in any way. A huge grey block with smaller blocks attached each side, it had been a weary builder's last task before he died, and he had merely shoved the walls in place and washed his hands of it. The surrounding landscape was no better. In the moonlight I could see a few scraggly trees along one side of the build EXCERPT: I stood shivering before an imposing stone edifice. The entrance was a gaping archway that looked like a monstrous mouth. Nobody seemed to have tried to beautify the building in any way. A huge grey block with smaller blocks attached each side, it had been a weary builder's last task before he died, and he had merely shoved the walls in place and washed his hands of it. The surrounding landscape was no better. In the moonlight I could see a few scraggly trees along one side of the building, and nothing else but a vast grey emptiness. Surely there must be other buildings close by. Perhaps the estate would look better in daylight. I left my trunk and walked through the archway, which led to a massive oak door. As I made my way towards it I was swallowed up in near-darkness. I wasn't a timid woman, but I didn't like the atmosphere of this place. I hoped the inside would look more welcoming. ABOUT 'THE CURSE OF MORTON ABBEY': Solicitor Vaughan Springthorpe knows perfectly well that Sir Peter Spencer’s offer of employment seems too good to be true: he hires her sight unseen, offering a suspiciously large salary to prepare the sale of Morton Abbey, his crumbling Yorkshire estate. But few people in late-Victorian England will entrust their legal affairs to a woman, and Vaughan is desperate to prove herself. Once at Morton, Vaughan discovers that someone is determined to drive her away. An intruder tries to enter her bedroom at night, gunshots are fired outside her window, and an eerie crying echoes from the uninhabited second floor. Even Netherton, the nearest village, seems odd: the picturesque houses and perfect-looking families are haunted by dark secrets connected to Morton Abbey itself. To complete her work and solve the mystery at the heart of Morton, Vaughan needs the help of Joe Dixon, the handsome gardener, and Nicholas Spencer, her employer’s irascible invalid brother. But with her questions diverted, her progress thwarted, and her sleep disrupted by the crying, will Vaughan escape Morton Abbey with her sanity intact or be cursed by the secrets within? MY THOUGHTS: I quite enjoyed The Curse of Morton Abbey although I didn't find it particularly creepy, which I was hoping for, or suspenseful. There are a few unexpected twists to the story though, which kept my interest. I liked Vaughan's strength of character and desire for independence. It can't have been easy to have a deformity in the 1800s, which sounds like it may have been a club foot and is easily corrected by surgery today, and not to have been hidden away by the family. Speaking of family, Vaughan's mother doesn't sound like she has one compassionate bone in her body! I'm quite sure that she just wanted to keep Vaughan by her side to be at her beck and call, and to care for her in her old age. I don't blame Vaughan at all for taking the risk of striking out on her own. This book is peopled by other great characters too. Joe, the gardner, is somewhat of a surprise. Not all is as it seems with this good looking young man with whom Vaughan forges a friendship. I also enjoyed the way Nick Spencer's character developed. At first I didn't know what to make of him. A 'madman' locked in his own wing, with only the butler allowed access to him - he certainly piqued my interest. We don't meet Sir Peter until well into the book. There are very few staff at Morton Abbey. Joe the gardener; Bedford the Butler, a man with dark, malevolent eyes; and Mrs. Wilson, the housekeeper, a rotund, motherly looking woman who loves to chat. The story is told simply and from Vaughan's point of view. It's not particularly fast-paced, but it kept my interest throughout and managed to surprise me more than once. A satisfying but not particularly memorable read. ⭐⭐⭐.5 #TheCurseofMortonAbbey #NetGalley I: @clarissajharwood #thornfieldpress T: @clarissaharwood #ThornfieldPress #domesticdrama #familydrama #historicalfiction #mystery #gothic #romance THE AUTHOR: Clarissa writes historical fiction set mainly in Victorian and Edwardian England. She has been fascinated by all things Victorian since she was a child: the clothes, the elaborate social rituals, the gap between rich and poor, the dizzying pace of advancements in science and technology. When it was time to choose a major in university, she had trouble deciding between history and English literature because she really just wanted to study the Victorians. Ultimately, she chose English and earned a PhD specializing in nineteenth-century British literature. Her novels pay homage to her favourite Victorian authors. In addition to being a novelist and proud member of the Historical Novel Society, Clarissa is a part-time university instructor and full-time grammar nerd who loves to explain the difference between restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses. DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Thornfield Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Curse of Morton Abbey by Clarissa Harwood for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and my webpage https://sandysbookaday.wordpress.com/...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Clarissa

    The Curse of Morton Abbey is very dear to my heart. Readers familiar with my previous novels may be surprised by the darker tone of this book, so I want to add a content warning for people who may be disturbed by these darker themes (e.g child death). I can't say more because I want to avoid spoilers, but this is not a horror novel and doesn't include graphic depictions of violence. It is more suspenseful than my previous novels, but I would still consider it a feminist historical novel like the The Curse of Morton Abbey is very dear to my heart. Readers familiar with my previous novels may be surprised by the darker tone of this book, so I want to add a content warning for people who may be disturbed by these darker themes (e.g child death). I can't say more because I want to avoid spoilers, but this is not a horror novel and doesn't include graphic depictions of violence. It is more suspenseful than my previous novels, but I would still consider it a feminist historical novel like the others. I am a slow writer, and all my books take approximately 10 years from start to finish (with several year-long breaks so I can approach them with fresh eyes for the next draft). This book is no exception. I especially loved writing this book because it's the genre I love most as a reader: a novel of gothic suspense that doesn't fit perfectly into other categories but includes elements of history, romance, and mystery. I hope you'll enjoy it! If you'd like to get my book news early, including cover reveals and an inside look at my research and writing process, please subscribe to my newsletter at https://clarissaharwood.com/. I send out newsletters only when I have book news: I promise not to spam you!

  3. 5 out of 5

    RoshReviews

    In a Nutshell: A captivating and quick-paced gothic suspense. If only the ending were written a little better way! Story: London, 1897. Vaughan Springthorpe, a disabled and unqualified solicitor, accepts a job offer from Sir Peter Spencer to sort out the documents of his large estate named “Morton Abbey” at Bradford and prepare the sale deeds. She knows there’s something odd about the suspiciously large amount he is paying her but she has no choice but to accept his offer. Once she reaches the est In a Nutshell: A captivating and quick-paced gothic suspense. If only the ending were written a little better way! Story: London, 1897. Vaughan Springthorpe, a disabled and unqualified solicitor, accepts a job offer from Sir Peter Spencer to sort out the documents of his large estate named “Morton Abbey” at Bradford and prepare the sale deeds. She knows there’s something odd about the suspiciously large amount he is paying her but she has no choice but to accept his offer. Once she reaches the estate, she realises that it holds within its confines several mysteries as well as mysterious residents, one of whom is Nick Spencer, the sickly brother of her employer. The only ray of light amid the gloomy atmosphere seems to be the gardener Joe Dixon. But with someone determined to drive her away from the place, and with some spooky going-on at night, will Vaughan be able to escape the creepy mansion unharmed? The story comes to us in the first person perspective of Vaughan. The biggest charm of this book lies in its unconventional heroine. The youngest of five daughters, twenty-eight year old Vaughan is the black sheep of her family. Born with a crippled leg, she has been consistently told that she is ugly and unmarriageable. Her solicitor father has taught her everything about the law and she dreams of becoming a solicitor. But after his death, she knows that life with her proud mother and married sisters is impossible. So she decides to make her own independent way in the world. She is highly practical, organised and gutsy. For a story set in 1897, she makes for an unusual female lead character with her wish for independence and self-employment, which is remarkable. Of the other characters, Nick is the most well-written as his persona has layers that keep changing depending on his mood. I liked seeing such a realistic depiction of a man, with multiple shades of gray rather than being a clear black or white. The rest of the characters fall a little flat in comparison to these two brilliant sketches as they are mostly two-dimensional. In most cases, what you see is not what you get and you already know it because of the ample clues provided in the text. All the characters other than Vaughan are such that you never know whom to trust but you desperately want to trust many! The story is quite gothic in its style. It establishes the right atmosphere and uses the mysterious house setting to its full advantage. It’s not much spooky, but generates enough of a suspense to make you read on without keeping it aside. There are sufficient twists and turns in the tale to add to the experience. I could guess many of the twists in the story but not all. While there is a fair bit of romance in the story, the romantic arcs are written well and more importantly, never dominate over the suspense-mystery bits. That’s a huge plus for me as I am a bit fed up of seeing romance ruling the roost no matter what genre I pick up. Despite the number of pages, the book goes by quickly. I completed this 384 page book in a little more than a day, which shows you how much it kept me hooked. The story has shades of A Secret Garden and Jane Eyre. (I gotta admit, I was feeling very proud of myself for having made this brilliant correlation, until I saw that the Goodreads blurb begins with these very two book names! What a bubble-burst! 😂) Why only 4 stars then? 1. The book was a steady 4.5 stars for me until about the 80% mark. After that, things went over the top. The revelations were farfetched, the explanations were unsatisfactory, the situations too convenient, and the ending abrupt. It felt like the first 80% was a mountain in front of the molehill of an ending. Don’t get me wrong; the ending is quite good. But it doesn’t match up to the standard set by the rest of the book. 2. Unlike what the name of the book suggests, the curse isn’t really the main topic of the story but just a trivial subplot. It could safely have been cut out of the story without any impact to the rest of the proceedings. So the title is a bit of a misnomer and if you pick up this book looking for a fancy-schmancy curse and its unveiling, not gonna happen. 3. A couple of plot points are left unanswered even after the end. Regardless of this slight disappointment at the end, I enjoyed my reading of this book as it kept me mostly entertained and I had fun guessing the twists. I also relished seeing such a fabulous woman character leading the show in a Victorian setting. Recommended if you enjoy Gothic mysteries with a strong woman in the lead and quick-paced writing. My thanks to Victory Editing NetGalley Co-op, Thornfield Press and NetGalley for the ARC of “The Curse of Morton Abbey”. This review is voluntary and contains my honest opinion about the book. *********************** Join me on the Facebook group, Readers Forever! , for more reviews, book-related discussions and fun.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Manning

    I am not usually a reader of the Gothic romance genre, though I do like an occasional dip into classics by Poe or Hawthorne. But because I have read Harwood’s other book, Impossible Saints, and really loved her remarkable historically accurate backdrop, I knew this tale would be just as good, if not better. And I was right. The Curse of Morton Abbey sets the dark and chilly mood right from the start, taking place in and outside of London. Little by little, our female protagonist, Vaughn, feels h I am not usually a reader of the Gothic romance genre, though I do like an occasional dip into classics by Poe or Hawthorne. But because I have read Harwood’s other book, Impossible Saints, and really loved her remarkable historically accurate backdrop, I knew this tale would be just as good, if not better. And I was right. The Curse of Morton Abbey sets the dark and chilly mood right from the start, taking place in and outside of London. Little by little, our female protagonist, Vaughn, feels her sanity slipping away as she hears and sees things that are—or perhaps are not—there. With a delicately unwinding mystery, a few love triangles, and characters who rarely are what they say they are converging together, one can’t help wonder if Harwood is the reincarnate of Bram Stoker or Henry James, or perhaps a little of both. I know a lot of reviewers will compare Harwood’s writing to Charlotte or Emily Bronte’s, but honestly, this book is WAY better than Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights. I think the reason for this is that today’s female writers can write anything they please. They aren’t held back by the constraints of the day, or by the men who used to rule the publishing world. So even though Harwood’s story draws us into a space of Victorian mores and values, the plot itself is fresh. It is modern, without being modern! I fell in love with Vaughn, not for being the romanticized “girl who longs to be independent,” but because she is multi-dimensional, unlike the female protagonists created by Victorian writers, who were often portrayed as stereotypes of what society believed women should be. I would have been friends with someone like Vaughn. We would have hung out, maybe in a garden, sipping tea with a drop of brandy while discussing everything from men to science to philosophy. Our main gal is brave but careful, confident but humble, and caring without doting. She is the perfect blend for today’s Gothic revival. Without going into the near-perfect way in which Harwood follows plot structure, just know that all the twists and turns, most of which are unpredictable, will be settled in the end, satisfying even the most picky of readers. It is because of The Curse of Morton Abbey that I might just pick up other books in this genre.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Farshana ❤️rainnbooks❤️

    Why wouldn’t I want to read this book, just look at that beautiful cover image! That just there provides the perfect gothic feel and there I go, sucked into the story of a young woman who has to fight against all odds and come up with trumps. Vaughan Springthorpe is the youngest of five sisters and believes herself to be the least beautiful amongst them and compounded by an afflicted lame leg has no chance to ever be the gentle lady wooed by any suitors. Her only hope is to put to good use the ed Why wouldn’t I want to read this book, just look at that beautiful cover image! That just there provides the perfect gothic feel and there I go, sucked into the story of a young woman who has to fight against all odds and come up with trumps. Vaughan Springthorpe is the youngest of five sisters and believes herself to be the least beautiful amongst them and compounded by an afflicted lame leg has no chance to ever be the gentle lady wooed by any suitors. Her only hope is to put to good use the education she has been given by her lawyer father. Traveling to Morton Abbey to deal with the sale of the estate was a new beginning for her dream towards independence but the price to be paid for the job may be her sanity. This is a well-written spooky thriller with uncanny voices and frightening incidents causing the practical and sensible Vaughan to question her beliefs in ghosts and spirits. The damp and moldy Morton Abbey doesn’t help matters and the claustrophobic atmosphere adds to the element of chill and suspense. Aggravating the problems is the highly volatile Nick Spencer whose madman tactics take a toll on Vaughan’s peace of mind. The author’s characterization of Vaughan is fantastic, she is someone that I could root for, her approach to all things inside Morton Abbey and even the nearby village Netherton was completely realistic. She uses all her rational reasonings to explain away the mysterious incidents happening around her and I loved her angry responses to Nick thus showing the passionate woman hidden inside the pragmatic soul. The romance that develops slowly is also excellently done as one can feel the gradual awakening of the love in Vaughan’s mind. The mysteries surrounding the estate were along the expected lines but I loved how the author has added multiple layers to the story of Nick’s past and his animosity with his brother Sir Peter. The Curse of Morton Abbey takes the reader to a time in history where women lawyers had no part to play in society so it was exciting to see Vaughan establishing herself in the field of law. But the highlight factor of the novel I would say is the writing by the author Clarissa Harwood. It is not flowery with a prosaic language that sometimes becomes boring, but one still feels the vibe of a classical narrative as each segment of the story unravels as in books like Jane Eyre. The pacing of the story is not quick like a thriller but the author successfully lures the reader in with different stands of the story weaving together a complex mystery that follows the dysfunctional Spencer family. The spooky season is just around the corner and for all fans of gothic suspense, the Curse of Morton Abbey is one to curl up on the sofa with a fire burning in the fireplace.☔☔☔☔☔ Many thanks to Book Sirens, and the author for a chance to read and review this book. All opinions are expressed voluntarily. This review is published in my blog https://rainnbooks.com/, Goodreads, Amazon India, Book Bub, Medium.com, Facebook, and Twitter.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Srivalli Rekha

    **Happy Publication Day** ****** 3.8 Stars One Liner: Atmospheric setting with a feminist heroine, but lacks the punch of a good mystery. Vaughan Springthorpe has been her father’s assistant for a long time. She finally has a chance to prove that she’s a worthy solicitor when women were limited to managing the house and attending parties. Despite her mother’s doubts, Vaughan goes to Morton Abbey in Yorkshire to assist Sir Peter Spencer with the sale of the estate. Of course, her employer is away f **Happy Publication Day** ****** 3.8 Stars One Liner: Atmospheric setting with a feminist heroine, but lacks the punch of a good mystery. Vaughan Springthorpe has been her father’s assistant for a long time. She finally has a chance to prove that she’s a worthy solicitor when women were limited to managing the house and attending parties. Despite her mother’s doubts, Vaughan goes to Morton Abbey in Yorkshire to assist Sir Peter Spencer with the sale of the estate. Of course, her employer is away from the dark, gloomy, and mysterious place. Vaughan has to live in the same house with a grumpy butler, a talkative housekeeper, and Peter’s invalid younger brother, Nicholas. The strange sounds and unexplained silence of the members scare Vaughan, but she’s determined to get her job done. The job itself proves to be difficult with the library and the papers in the most kind of mess she’s ever seen. As days pass into weeks, Vaughan sets things in order. She meets Nicholas as well as Joe, the gardener at the Abbey. None of them seem to have any explanation for the incidents that trouble her mind. Moreover, she realizes that people aren’t always what they seem to be. The nearest village, Netherton, seems to be picture-perfect until Vaughan realizes that there’s something not right. Things get complicated as Vaughan learns new things. However, some incidents are still a mystery, and she is determined to get to the bottom of them. Can Vaughan succeed in revealing the curse of Morton Abbey and finding what her heart desires? The book has a slow start but picks up momentum later on. The writing is neither too descriptive nor bland. The mix of show and tell works well to establish the setting and the characters. While we realize a few things at the same time as Vaughan does, the other hints are provided for us to connect the dots. Vaughan is the narrator of the story, and we see the change in her as she grows through the book. She is an independent woman wanting to make her mark in the male-dominated society. While that’s great, some of her comments seem a little too condescending about other women and their approach to life. The other characters seem to be a hit and miss. While I loved Nicholas Spencer’s mood swings and erratic behavior, and Joe was the too-good-to-be-true kind of guy, the rest of them were pretty much casual. The romance did keep me interested to see what would happen at the end. The mystery tends to go in and out of the spotlight. The final reveal somehow fell flat and didn’t seem to be justice to the title. The book did have an epilogue of sorts, but even that ended almost abruptly. That kind of approach works for a short story than a full-length novel. When I read almost 400 pages, I want a better and more settled ending (especially since I’m a fan of HEA). To sum up, The Curse of Morton Abbey is a decent atmospheric novel with elements of romance and suspense. It would make for a good one-time read. Thank you, NetGalley and Thornfield Press, for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. #TheCurseofMortonAbbey #NetGalley

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mimi Matthews

    The Curse of Morton Abbey is a delightfully spooky and wonderfully atmospheric gothic novel. Clarissa Harwood’s elegant prose is a pleasure to read, and her firm grasp of Victorian history manifests itself in note-perfect period detail. Reminiscent of the works of Charlotte Brontë and Frances Hodgson Burnett, this story contains everything I love best about the genre. Highly recommended.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Merry Jewelhound

    This author is new to me. I enjoyed this book as I do not typically read Gothic mystery and this was an enjoyable change. Vaughn is a woman who in the late 1800's wants to become a solicitor and goes to an old mansion to ready it for sale. There are several plots that are well woven to become a good story that flows well together and ties up at the end. The book is mainly a mystery with a touch of romance. The h also has a disability which has made her more determined to become independent and o This author is new to me. I enjoyed this book as I do not typically read Gothic mystery and this was an enjoyable change. Vaughn is a woman who in the late 1800's wants to become a solicitor and goes to an old mansion to ready it for sale. There are several plots that are well woven to become a good story that flows well together and ties up at the end. The book is mainly a mystery with a touch of romance. The h also has a disability which has made her more determined to become independent and open her own law practice in London. I rate the 4.5* and look forward to more books by this author.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sophia

    What would the Frances Hodgson Burnett classic, The Secret Garden, look like if all the main players were adults? That is what author, Clarissa Harwood asked herself and a lush, atmospheric and romantic historical suspense was born. A book from a new to me author and a set up I could not resist brought early tingles of excitement. Vaughan Springthorpe finished settling her deceased solicitor father’s affairs and must now face an uncertain future. He trained her to copy and review legal documents What would the Frances Hodgson Burnett classic, The Secret Garden, look like if all the main players were adults? That is what author, Clarissa Harwood asked herself and a lush, atmospheric and romantic historical suspense was born. A book from a new to me author and a set up I could not resist brought early tingles of excitement. Vaughan Springthorpe finished settling her deceased solicitor father’s affairs and must now face an uncertain future. He trained her to copy and review legal documents and it is her dream to become a solicitor, herself. Facing resistance from her surviving family because she is a woman and has a disability, she ignores this and takes the first step toward her dream by way of placing an advertisement for employment. A reply comes and she is hired by absent estate owner, Sir Peter Spencer, to get the estate papers in order so he can sell. Morton Abbey is a dreadful place where only Sir Peter’s reclusive brother and a couple servants are in residence. Vaughan encounters the prickly butler/valet, the belligerent invalid Mr. Spencer who doesn’t want the house sold, or the chatty, old cook/housekeeper. Treated to a nighttime gunshot, to a ghostly child’s tears, and someone attempting her bedchamber door, she learns quickly that something is very wrong. Nick Spencer is thought mad because his only child was drowned and his wife left him. Vaughan has little sympathy and suspects the man of being behind all the mystery to drive her away from the estate. Thankfully there is a cheery gardener, Joe Dixon, who takes her out and shows her the loveliness of the grounds and the gardens and seems quite interested in Vaughan. Slowly, she settles in and is even happy for a time- until the secrets of Morton Abbey are revealed along with the unwelcome feelings of her heart for someone who is all wrong for her. The Curse of Morton Abbey was both a classical tribute and an absorbing, original tale. It had some gothic tones that made it mildly hair-raising as a good tale of this sort should. The set up and introduction of the intrepid, but also vulnerable heroine adventuring alone into her new circumstances struck just the right chord. the further set up of backdrop and other characters along with current situation fell into place to create one riveting story. I liked seeing the way the Abbey slowly changed her while she has an equally good effect on the people at the abbey especially Nick by drawing him out of his darkened rooms and darker thoughts to enjoy the sunshine with her and Joe in the garden. Vaughan was not an insipid heroine. She’s brash and rushes in where angels fear to tread, as the old saying goes. I was on the fence about her at the outset. While I entered into her feelings on wanting a career rather than be the poor relation, wanting to be respected for her skill no matter her gender, and not being treated poorly because she has a physical disability, she comes on very strong with her own sharp tongue and ways. She strode into that house and one day later she’s snooping in a locked wing and pushing her way into Mr. Spencer’s sick room demanding he talk about family secrets that are none of her business and discuss estate business before they are even introduced. I found her behavior and actions improbable for only her first day there especially since she was only hired to organize the estate papers. I came around to being pro Vaughan as the story continued after that first day and was on the edge of my seat as she faced the creepy moments, sussed out secrets, and got to know the handful of residents on the estate and the nearby villagers. She comes into her own as she is respected for her intelligence and her abilities, treated like someone special, and learns to believe in love and feels it for two very different men. I enjoyed how the twists and turns built-up to a breath-taking and emotional climax before offering an equally absorbing denouement to the end. I figured out some of what was going on, but there was a great deal that I had to wait to find out including her romance choice. All in all, this was a fabulous first outing with Clarissa Harwood’s writing and I loved the strong nod to The Secret Garden. I can unequivocally recommend it to gothic and historical suspense readers. I rec'd an eARC from Austenprose to read in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mlpmom (Book Reviewer)

    Fall is always when I'm most ready to read a good story that will keep me turing the pages and keep me on my toes. I'm so glad I gave this book a try, it was exactly what I was looking for in a good mystery, a good retelling of sorts and in a good historical. SO many great elements to this story and it really was hard to put down at times. I will definitely be looking for more from this author. *ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.* Fall is always when I'm most ready to read a good story that will keep me turing the pages and keep me on my toes. I'm so glad I gave this book a try, it was exactly what I was looking for in a good mystery, a good retelling of sorts and in a good historical. SO many great elements to this story and it really was hard to put down at times. I will definitely be looking for more from this author. *ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

  11. 5 out of 5

    Laurel

    Mix together a gloomy, ancient abbey in rainswept Yorkshire, a spikey, determined heroine, a dark secret to unravel and you could have the elements for any Gothic novel. What makes The Curse of Morton Abbey special is the author's understanding of the genre, her fluid prose, impeccable Victorian-era details, and a twisty plot to upend all of your expectations. While readers of the genre might recognize the author's reverent nod to The Secret Garden and Jane Eyre, I was happy to find a more satis Mix together a gloomy, ancient abbey in rainswept Yorkshire, a spikey, determined heroine, a dark secret to unravel and you could have the elements for any Gothic novel. What makes The Curse of Morton Abbey special is the author's understanding of the genre, her fluid prose, impeccable Victorian-era details, and a twisty plot to upend all of your expectations. While readers of the genre might recognize the author's reverent nod to The Secret Garden and Jane Eyre, I was happy to find a more satisfying connection to Gothic romance author Victoria Holt. My recommendation to you is to read it by flickering candlelight for the full effect this Halloween season. Enjoy!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rachel McMillan

    Just all my freaking catnip for example: homage to the Secret Garden ( but what if they were adults) adorable Joe a gardener mysterious and tortured Nick ( le sigh) and Vaughan at the center who is prickly and stubborn and a female solicitor who must forge and fight for her agency in a male dominated world. This is a little bit Hester Fox and a little bit Simone St. James and a lot of delicious gothic that will appeal to lovers of tautly written, Bronte-infused immersive fiction. The perfect grab you Just all my freaking catnip for example: homage to the Secret Garden ( but what if they were adults) adorable Joe a gardener mysterious and tortured Nick ( le sigh) and Vaughan at the center who is prickly and stubborn and a female solicitor who must forge and fight for her agency in a male dominated world. This is a little bit Hester Fox and a little bit Simone St. James and a lot of delicious gothic that will appeal to lovers of tautly written, Bronte-infused immersive fiction. The perfect grab your tea, blanket and candles and climb into October read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ana on the Shelves

    Miss Vaughan Springthorpe has lost her father and since she had been helping him with his solicitor work for a long time she decides to try to do it alone. It was either that or live as the spinster sister, doomed to take care of her nephews and aging mother. Why, you would ask? Because of her handicap, a deformed foot. With luck and help from her father’s friends she finds a job at Morton Abbey, an old Yourkshire estate belonging to Sir Peter Spencer. Her task is to prepare all the legal documen Miss Vaughan Springthorpe has lost her father and since she had been helping him with his solicitor work for a long time she decides to try to do it alone. It was either that or live as the spinster sister, doomed to take care of her nephews and aging mother. Why, you would ask? Because of her handicap, a deformed foot. With luck and help from her father’s friends she finds a job at Morton Abbey, an old Yourkshire estate belonging to Sir Peter Spencer. Her task is to prepare all the legal documents in order to sell the property however things start to get more and more complicated and even frightful. Shots rang out at night, books that were previously put in order reappear on the ground, strange noises can be heard in the night… To add to all that, Vaughan finds herself in the middle of a family long dispute between Sir Peter and his invalid younger brother Nicholas Spencer. And as an ally she only finds Joe Dixon, the handsome gardener of the estate. But can she trust anyone? This was definitely a successful and very entertaining modern version of the classic gothic mystery. The language is not as flowery, the descriptions not as heavy and the speech almost reaches the usual speech for our time, but all of that makes for a faster read even though it’s a big book, sitting just a bit over four hundred pages. For another change, that I felt was most refreshing somehow, is that the protagonist is a rather unlikable character. She is rude, quick tempered, makes assumptions based on very superficial facts and is naive but thinks she knows all that there is to know. Why is this refreshing? To be honest I don’t think I have read that many books where the main character acts in such an impolite and sometimes even insulting manner. It ended up being great fun! Now, the part that matters most, or so some may say: the mystery. I was rather pleasantly surprised with it. If you have read enough mysteries you shall uncover everything rather fast, yet you will still enjoy reading the book. This is not a simple case of person A did so to person B. Oh no… There are several layers for this enigma and they are skillfully woven in the story. And as pace goes I cannot find a fault with the book, it kept me glued to it until I finished it. So with all this praise, surely there is a reason this is not a five star read. There is one, indeed, it’s agenda was a bit too on the nose. “My father wished me to learn the law, history, science, and some of the classics. I haven’t been taught the useless accomplishments of a lady.” This is a feminist story and that is wonderful. We all enjoy some girl power. However there was a bit too little nuance to the point that it felt like the flow of the narration was interrupted so that other characters could praise Vaughan or so that she could make some remark about it. Being that several times Vaughan would demerit other females in order to uphold herself. In such a modern take of a gothic mystery it almost looks archaic to have to use such tactics instead of valorizing all the efforts of womankind. But that aside, it is a book that I would very much recommend! (I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    Morton Abbey is the central character in this story. A large, gloomy, damp estate is what greets Vaughan when she arrives to do a job that appears to be too good to be true. A lady solicitor in Victorian times can't afford to be choosey however, especially one like Vaughan who is determined to be independent of her family. She meets two very different men. Joe, the gardener, who is thoughtful and kind and Nicolas, her employer's younger brother, who is rude and surly. There are many layers and st Morton Abbey is the central character in this story. A large, gloomy, damp estate is what greets Vaughan when she arrives to do a job that appears to be too good to be true. A lady solicitor in Victorian times can't afford to be choosey however, especially one like Vaughan who is determined to be independent of her family. She meets two very different men. Joe, the gardener, who is thoughtful and kind and Nicolas, her employer's younger brother, who is rude and surly. There are many layers and strands to this story. I had just come to grips with one element and something else turned up. The writing is wonderfully atmospheric. You can feel the chill when the author is describing the moldy, crumbling house. The mystery was perfectly done. I thought I had guessed what was happening but then it went off on another tangent. The romance was a slow burner but grew in depth over the course of the book but I thought the ending was a bit abrupt. The book starts slowly but this was laying the ground work for what became an incredible story. There are definitely shades of Jane Eyre in it. People who enjoy the books of Laura Purcell would certainly love this one. Thanks to Thornfield Press and Netgalley for an early copy of this book to read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Andi

    This was my first Clarissa Harwood book and she won me over for giving me not only a spooky tale, but a tale where the romance was truly earned and well-developed. Ugh. That romance. The romance snuck up on me. I was worried while reading it to find out who exactly will turn out to the the romantic interest? You have the invalid, the brother, and the caretaker. At first the book was going in one direction and I kept telling myself 'god, this guy is boring... is this really going to be the love in This was my first Clarissa Harwood book and she won me over for giving me not only a spooky tale, but a tale where the romance was truly earned and well-developed. Ugh. That romance. The romance snuck up on me. I was worried while reading it to find out who exactly will turn out to the the romantic interest? You have the invalid, the brother, and the caretaker. At first the book was going in one direction and I kept telling myself 'god, this guy is boring... is this really going to be the love interest'. Imagine when I discovered who it was? Perfect. Absolutely slow building and very, very sweet. The mystery / gothic story was also well done where I couldn't tell who or what was 'haunting' the estate. The twists and turns were not things I could easily guess and I love that with a book, especially with an author I've never tried before. If you're looking for a clean, gothic romance set in the early 1900's, this is the book for you!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth McFarland

    This was my first book by Clarissa Harwood and I was blown away by how quickly I was drawn in by the atmospheric Gothic setting. The cover is so beautifully dark. Morton Abbey is the star of this book with its mysterious secrets and dark corners. It's an homage to The Secret Garden. Asking the question, what if the characters were adults. As a child I always loved The Secret Garden and this brought on many of the same feelings. This is a beautifully written Gothic novel filled with mysteries a This was my first book by Clarissa Harwood and I was blown away by how quickly I was drawn in by the atmospheric Gothic setting. The cover is so beautifully dark. Morton Abbey is the star of this book with its mysterious secrets and dark corners. It's an homage to The Secret Garden. Asking the question, what if the characters were adults. As a child I always loved The Secret Garden and this brought on many of the same feelings. This is a beautifully written Gothic novel filled with mysteries and romance. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tissie

    Vaughan Springthorpe is a solicitor. So far, so good, but we’re in England, it’s the end of the nineteenth century, and women just don’t do legal work. They’re supposed to stand there, be pretty, and snatch a rich husband while in their prime. Vaughan has other ideas, however. [Keep reading @ Bookshelves & Teacups] Vaughan Springthorpe is a solicitor. So far, so good, but we’re in England, it’s the end of the nineteenth century, and women just don’t do legal work. They’re supposed to stand there, be pretty, and snatch a rich husband while in their prime. Vaughan has other ideas, however. [Keep reading @ Bookshelves & Teacups]

  18. 5 out of 5

    Annette

    This book reminds me of other gothic romance mystery books I used to read. It has a good mystery, the story kept my interest to the very end. I enjoyed this book. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the early copy

  19. 5 out of 5

    Anna Tilisky

    3.75/5 for me. First off thanks to NetGalley and Thornfield Press for my FIRST ARC (in exchange for an honest and unbiased review) I feel like a real booksta ♥️ Our main heroine is Vaughn, a female solicitor with a physical disability - and lets add it’s the late 1800s so she’s really doing the damn thing. She replied to an add for a solicitor to put together the affairs of Morton Abbey to prepare it for sale. Along the way she befriends the second born heir to the abbey who wants nothing more b 3.75/5 for me. First off thanks to NetGalley and Thornfield Press for my FIRST ARC (in exchange for an honest and unbiased review) I feel like a real booksta ♥️ Our main heroine is Vaughn, a female solicitor with a physical disability - and lets add it’s the late 1800s so she’s really doing the damn thing. She replied to an add for a solicitor to put together the affairs of Morton Abbey to prepare it for sale. Along the way she befriends the second born heir to the abbey who wants nothing more but to keep it and learns more about the secrets hiding in the walls of Morton. Likes: 👍🏼 I could smell Morton Abbey throughout the book. Harwood did such an incredible job making a place the main character. 👍🏼 The tie into Joe Dixon’s family and the town in which he grew up in. While he was too good to be true he made me happy! 👍🏼 Once the book picked up it was excellently paced with information being revealed at the perfect time. Harwood writes in a way where the character figures out what’s going on a little before you are and it kept me on my toes! Dislikes: 👎🏼 The beginning was slow and took me a little bit to figure out what was going on. (This can also be attributed to me because I don’t like to read book synopsis) 👎🏼 While the the romantic in me loves some twisted relationships with happy endings I wasn’t convinced any of the relationships ended the “right way” 👎🏼 As an avid Downton Abbey and Upstairs/Downstairs fan I feel like the class mixing and how the employees interacted with their employer were not in line with the norms of the time. Overall, really enjoyed this book!! Not my typical genre but I really got into this genre and will read more by Harwood!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Carrie Callaghan

    I had the privilege of reading a pre-publication copy of this book, and I was gripped from start to finish. You'll be staying up late wondering what secrets Morton Abbey hides, and rooting for the determined Vaughan to find the truth of both the manor and her heart. I had the privilege of reading a pre-publication copy of this book, and I was gripped from start to finish. You'll be staying up late wondering what secrets Morton Abbey hides, and rooting for the determined Vaughan to find the truth of both the manor and her heart.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brenda

    Set in 1890s Yorkshire, this splendid book contains the perfect amount of darkness and drips with Gothic atmosphere. You can't throw a brick without hitting it. Yet it's not scary in a horror/supernatural sort of way. Female solicitors in this era are extremely rare. Not only is Vaughan Springthorpe intelligent, she is spirited and also has foibles...don't we all? She has a disability which you read about very early on so this isn't spoiling it. I like the inclusion of realistic touches. Lord Pe Set in 1890s Yorkshire, this splendid book contains the perfect amount of darkness and drips with Gothic atmosphere. You can't throw a brick without hitting it. Yet it's not scary in a horror/supernatural sort of way. Female solicitors in this era are extremely rare. Not only is Vaughan Springthorpe intelligent, she is spirited and also has foibles...don't we all? She has a disability which you read about very early on so this isn't spoiling it. I like the inclusion of realistic touches. Lord Peter Spencer becomes her client and when she moves into Morton Abbey temporarily, she discovers more than a job. Much more. The house, though very dead, seems to have a personality of its own from eerie crying at night to an intrusion to pervasive melancholy to secrets galore. Vaughan desires nothing more than to get her work done and get out. Nicholas Spencer, the younger brother, is an invalid with shifty moods and a passion for the house. His character is extremely interesting. And then there is the young and handsome gardener, Joe Dixon. He is kind and gentle and adores working with plants. Vaughan finds herself pulled in, yet repulsed. Fascinating dynamic. The plots and subplots keep coming yet not over the top whatsoever. Romance is also in the air. We also see wrestling and reckoning with pasts, the present and future. So much to love here. My favourite aspects are the beautifully described atmosphere and characters. I adore books about old houses, especially those with a touch of the gothic. The writing is gorgeous and in ways I felt like I was right there in the thick of things. Do not hesitate to read this book. Get lost in it. My sincere thank you to Victory Editing NetGalley Co-op for the privilege of reading this highly-enjoyable book!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    This was a really interesting read and different than what I was initially expecting. I can definitely see it being a combination of Jane Eyre and The Secret Garden. It was a little slow at the beginning, but then it really picked up and sucked me in. The atmosphere throughout the whole thing was dark and gothic. Everything was held in suspense and I kept wondering what exactly was going on. There were so many questions and mysteries. It was thoroughly enjoyable and ended in a satisfying manner. This was a really interesting read and different than what I was initially expecting. I can definitely see it being a combination of Jane Eyre and The Secret Garden. It was a little slow at the beginning, but then it really picked up and sucked me in. The atmosphere throughout the whole thing was dark and gothic. Everything was held in suspense and I kept wondering what exactly was going on. There were so many questions and mysteries. It was thoroughly enjoyable and ended in a satisfying manner. The characters were lovable, and the beginning may have been slower, but a lot of that was just learning about the characters and coming to care about them. I was invested in their stories. An exciting adventure that gave me the gothic vibes I needed.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kate Eminhizer

    Ooooooooooo this book was so good!! This book has all of the elements needed for success. The main character Vaughan is a determined young women who wants to have a more fulfilling life than the one she is expected to live. She accepts employment from a suspiciously absent employer who expects her to succeed in her mission despite all who may be opposed it. Vaughan is subjected to a dark, sinister house that is home to even more disagreeable residents. The house unveils more than just an invalid Ooooooooooo this book was so good!! This book has all of the elements needed for success. The main character Vaughan is a determined young women who wants to have a more fulfilling life than the one she is expected to live. She accepts employment from a suspiciously absent employer who expects her to succeed in her mission despite all who may be opposed it. Vaughan is subjected to a dark, sinister house that is home to even more disagreeable residents. The house unveils more than just an invalid and uncooperative staff. Unexplainable noises seem to come from everywhere making Vaughan second guess herself. She rallies by making allies but is it enough to unveil the truth behind the job she's been hired to do and to solve the mysteries she has unearthed? Harwood has found a niche genre for herself and I hope that she continues to write many more in this style. I received a copy of this title via NetGalley.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bee

    With shades of ‘The Secret Garden’ and a bit of ‘Jane Eyre,’ this book delivers a solid, enjoyable gothic suspense novel. Vaughan Springthorpe, a refreshingly different sort of heroine, is a young woman trained from early youth by her solicitor father and knows as much about law as any man in a time when women solicitors were a scarcity. The youngest of four sisters, with a physical deformity, she’d always been told that she was unattractive to the male sex and would never ‘secure’ a husband, th With shades of ‘The Secret Garden’ and a bit of ‘Jane Eyre,’ this book delivers a solid, enjoyable gothic suspense novel. Vaughan Springthorpe, a refreshingly different sort of heroine, is a young woman trained from early youth by her solicitor father and knows as much about law as any man in a time when women solicitors were a scarcity. The youngest of four sisters, with a physical deformity, she’d always been told that she was unattractive to the male sex and would never ‘secure’ a husband, things she took as fact. So she set out for more intellectual pursuits, determined to support herself as a solicitor rather than do the expected, which was to move in with her eldest sister after their father’s death, along with her recently widowed mother. With the help of her ambiguous first name (a handy middle name, really), she applies for, and receives, the position of solicitor at the rambling Yorkshire estate of Sir Peter Spencer. He hires her sight unseen to handle the sale of Morton Abbey while he is away on the Continent, where he lives the majority of the time. Once Vaughan reaches the remote, crumbling estate cared for by only two servants, one of whom is an aging butler who dislikes her instantly, and sees the monumental task ahead of her, she begins to second guess her choices. Further hurdles include the fact that someone seems intent on scaring her away with frightening nighttime happenings, as well as the presence of Sir Peter’s younger brother Nick, a middle-aged, bedridden, ogre of a man (or is he?) who is determined to dislike her as well. Vaughan sets her mind to the task at hand, stubbornly refusing to give in and bound to fulfill her agreement with Sir Peter. A glimmer of light appears when she meets and befriends the gardener, Joe Dixon, and slowly learns to appreciate the beauty of Morton’s landscape. And possibly the horrid Nick Spencer seems to be unthawing a bit as well? Looming over all, though, are the secrets Morton Abbey contains, past and present, as Vaughan gets closer to unraveling the truth and completing what Sir Peter hired her to do. I guessed a few things but was still taken by surprise by twists at the end. A bit melodramatic towards the end, but not enough for me not to enjoy this book very much. Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read and review ‘The Curse of Morton Abbey.’

  25. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth "Eli" Olmedo

    An ominous tale of betrayal and secrets, Clarissa Harwood’s The Curse of Morton Abbey has the reader questioning everything he/she sees, hears, and believes. My first read by this author, a Victorian gothic tale with Jane Eyre and The Secret Garden vibes, I knew I couldn’t pass it up. Let me say, Harwood does not disappoint with this deliciously spooky and atmospheric tale. A gloomy abbey, eerie gardens, and ghosts — or is it the wind? — howling down darkened corridors, Harwood immerses her read An ominous tale of betrayal and secrets, Clarissa Harwood’s The Curse of Morton Abbey has the reader questioning everything he/she sees, hears, and believes. My first read by this author, a Victorian gothic tale with Jane Eyre and The Secret Garden vibes, I knew I couldn’t pass it up. Let me say, Harwood does not disappoint with this deliciously spooky and atmospheric tale. A gloomy abbey, eerie gardens, and ghosts — or is it the wind? — howling down darkened corridors, Harwood immerses her reader into the world of Morton Abbey and the enigmas surrounding it. The Curse of Morton Abbey has a lot to captivate its audience — a mystery that keeps one wondering, an intriguing heroine, compelling storytelling — but the setting undoubtedly comes out at the top of the list. It latched on to my mind’s eye long after finishing the last page. I didn’t fall in love with either potential romantic pairing. Vaughn, Joe, and Nicholas felt better suited as friends. Despite my natural gravitation toward stories with some sort of a romantic thread, this is one book I think I would have been perfectly content to see end in only friendship. Joe comes across superficial and more taken with the idea of love than the person in front of him. Nicholas seems a bit too self-focused and of weak character. Both of these impressions match perfectly with my thoughts of their counterparts in The Secret Garden. Vaughn, on the other hand, displays inner strength. She isn’t concerned with appearances, nor does she shrivel before challenges. A female solicitor with a physical impediment in Victorian England will face many of those. Vaughn knows who she is and what she wants, and goes for it. She had me invested in her journey from beginning to end. Without a doubt, I recommend this story to fans of gothic mysteries. It’s one of those books I will re-read in the future. Review copy provided by author via NetGalley. Thank you!

  26. 5 out of 5

    InD'tale Magazine

    Readers who wished for something fabulously different and even unique in their historical romance will want to read “The Curse of Morton Abbey”, a true combination of ‘The Secret Garden” and “Jane Eyre”! Read full review in the 2021 November issue of InD'tale Magazine. Readers who wished for something fabulously different and even unique in their historical romance will want to read “The Curse of Morton Abbey”, a true combination of ‘The Secret Garden” and “Jane Eyre”! Read full review in the 2021 November issue of InD'tale Magazine.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Space Cowgirl

    Logically Illogical😵 Late Victorian Gothic Romance💕 and Mystery Adventure London 1897. Miss Vaughan Springthorpe💃 is a highly trained and skilled solicitor who worked with her father until he died. Even at the turn of the 20th century, women were not allowed to work in many fields, and the law was one of them. So her job prospects are few to nonexistent. However, she manages to wrangle a job by long distance at an old abbey🏰 in Yorkshire. She is to put the library📚 in order and find all the legal pa Logically Illogical😵 Late Victorian Gothic Romance💕 and Mystery Adventure London 1897. Miss Vaughan Springthorpe💃 is a highly trained and skilled solicitor who worked with her father until he died. Even at the turn of the 20th century, women were not allowed to work in many fields, and the law was one of them. So her job prospects are few to nonexistent. However, she manages to wrangle a job by long distance at an old abbey🏰 in Yorkshire. She is to put the library📚 in order and find all the legal papers lost or hidden within to prepare the property to be sold. Her employer, Sir Peter Spencer, wants to sell the place, as it is not entailed. But the old building🏰 and the library📚📚 is in shambles when she arrives, and there is another complication. Nicholas Spencer🐺🍆⛲ , the brother of Sir Peter Spencer, is living there as an invalid and is also often mentally at odds with the world 🌎. He claims there is a hidden will that names him as the owner🏰. On top of that, there are a lot of weird noises and goings👻 on during the night 🌙! Vaughan💃 is not only tenacious, but she is doggedly determined. She won't be scared away! ARC Provided by Book📚 Sirens💃 This ebook was $4.99 on Amazon 📚at the time of this review. No KU. Opinions expressed here are entirely my own fault! This novel is written in first person, entirely from the viewpoint of Miss Springthorpe💃, so we never know what the other characters are thinking or planning. I suppose this adds to the mystery of the story, but I am not fond of first person accounts for this reason. I also got annoyed by Vaughan's💃 ill tempered and somewhat spiteful temperament when things didn't go her way. She was upset a lot of the time throughout the book. She just seemed to have a sour outlook on life. Vaughan💃💋 a!so has an inconsistent character throughout the book. Sometimes she is strong minded and fearless. Other times she runs away from everything and any kind of conflict, not even standing up for herself. The book is a!so inconsistent in the story because Vaughan💃💋 is up and down like a yoyo. The best part, and most emotional part of the book was when she and Nick🐺 were reading poetry to each other. The book is quite long, so there is good character development for Vaughan at least. The first person account greatly hinders character development for the other characters in the book. All we know is how Vaughan perceives them from their interactions with her. So they are basically mostly unknowns. Feeble attempts by characters to find a missing child also bothered me. It was like the child was an afterthought that could be put aside throughout the book when convenient.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Philina

    This story was advertised as drawing both from Jane Eyre and the Secret Garden. With Jane Eyre being my favorite classic and the Secret Garden being a lovely book also close to my heart, how can I not have loved it? Well, of course, having feelings for both these books, the author could have massacred something dear which would have broken my heart. Thankfully, this was not the case :) My biggest issue with this story is that there was not enough of it. In tone, it felt more like the Secret Garde This story was advertised as drawing both from Jane Eyre and the Secret Garden. With Jane Eyre being my favorite classic and the Secret Garden being a lovely book also close to my heart, how can I not have loved it? Well, of course, having feelings for both these books, the author could have massacred something dear which would have broken my heart. Thankfully, this was not the case :) My biggest issue with this story is that there was not enough of it. In tone, it felt more like the Secret Garden than Jane Eyre. Shorter and more straight forward. With Jane Eyre I felt like I knew the heroine better than I did Vaughan. I do not consciously know why. Maybe I have simply read that book so many times, maybe we spent more time with Jane in a longer book building her character. With Vaughan I was introduced to the parts of her necessary to tell the story. I think I would have liked some extra scenes (some would not appreciate them and call them useless filler material) in which I would have been introduced to some other facts about Vaughan's background, feelings, interests, etc. so that she felt more like a real person, a truely three-dimensional character. "Strong independently thinking woman wanting a man's career while also wanting a man to love her just the way she is" is a very interesting and engaging character stereotype, but nontheless a stereotype. It is a life-sized cardboard cutout which can be placed in many a story. It is certainly enough to build a solid story stringently towards a certain goal, but it lacks the touch of humanity. The last tiny bit to make the character feel truely human. I know this is total nitpicking since I loved the book and gave it five stars. What I am talking about is how to make it extra special so that the story and the heroine stay in my heart forever. With Jane I felt this, the Secret Garden, on the other hand, falls more into the cardboard category. That is not an issue, though, because it is a book for children. I think stereotypes are more easily understood by children, especially if the story wants to convey a moral, because they are very clear and very extreme. This is why books for children warm the heart of adults, because there they can find true white goodness in an otherwise grey reality. A book for adults, though, needs, in my opinion, a bit more nuance. Not in the sense that Vaughan would have needed some dark secrets, just some more scenes of humanity. I want to give praise to this book, because it made me reflect on these things. This means I cared about it. With the average historical fiction/romance/mystery I would have simply asked myself "Was I entertained?" and "Did the book deliver on what can usually be expected from that genre?", archived the book and forgot about it. Reflecting is important. A good book stays with you and does not simply entertain you for a short period of time. Thanks to BookSirens and the author for a free advanced review copy. The aforementioned is my own subjective opinion which was given freely.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Megan Rose

    The Curse of Morton Abbey is a book of intrigue and mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat and constantly guessing. The synopsis of this story describes it as "The Secret Garden" meets "Jane Eyre," and this is such an accurate description. For those who loved those two novels, they're sure to like this one as well. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and can't wait to recommend it to my fellow historical fiction lovers. However, I will say that it took me a little while to get into the The Curse of Morton Abbey is a book of intrigue and mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat and constantly guessing. The synopsis of this story describes it as "The Secret Garden" meets "Jane Eyre," and this is such an accurate description. For those who loved those two novels, they're sure to like this one as well. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and can't wait to recommend it to my fellow historical fiction lovers. However, I will say that it took me a little while to get into the story. During the first 15% of the book, I had trouble figuring out where the plot was going, but once I had a better understanding, I was hooked. When I reached the halfway mark, it became increasingly difficult to put it down. Every page brought more questions than answers, and I was desperate to learn all that I could. The Curse of Morton Abbey follows our main character Vaughan, a female solicitor trained by her father, who has been hired to finalize the selling of the estate, Morton Abbey. When she arrives at Morton Abbey, however, she realizes the job won't be simple. The estate is a lonely and eery one, and every night she hears strange noises. We follow her journey in uncovering the mysteries of the house, while forming friendships and romantic relationships with the inhabitants. But nothing is as it seems in Morton Abbey, and before she knows it, Vaughan is caught in a web of deception and hidden truths, and she must work to uncover all of the secrets. This was a wonderful gothic story, perfect for October. The mystery of the house and its inhabitants kept me engaged the entire time, even when I had no idea what was happening. I'm pleased to say there were a couple of mysteries I was able to solve, but there were just as many that took my by surprise in the best way. I think my biggest problem with this story is the writing style. It's not bad by any means, but it's also very simple and doesn't add much to the story. This just goes to show how much the plot and characters were keeping me engaged, though, since at one point, I found myself not caring anymore because I was so into the story. However, I will say that the pacing was excellently done. It was by no means quick, but neither was it too slow. It was just the right amount to draw out the suspense and keep readers on the edge of their seat. The characters, while they took a little time to warm up to, were a big part of what made The Curse of Morton Abbey work. Every character was shrouded in mystery, and while they appeared to be trustworthy, we soon found out that nothing and no one could be trusted at face value. It was a lot of fun following these characters and rooting for them, all the while knowing one of them could be behind a sinister plot to hurt Vaughan and keep Morton Abbey from being sold. I'm so very glad that I read this one, and I highly recommend it! Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Evonne

    This novel did not disappoint me: it was just precisely what it and its endorsers claim it is. I am not fond of romance at all but this had enough detective, gothic mystery, Victorian, and Bronte Sisters elements in it that I didn't mind the bits of romantic drama at all. The romance bits held no real surprises after the protagonist finally figures out her own self. However, the other mysterious elements had enough I-did-not-see-that-coming that I was fully satisfied with the ending. The setting This novel did not disappoint me: it was just precisely what it and its endorsers claim it is. I am not fond of romance at all but this had enough detective, gothic mystery, Victorian, and Bronte Sisters elements in it that I didn't mind the bits of romantic drama at all. The romance bits held no real surprises after the protagonist finally figures out her own self. However, the other mysterious elements had enough I-did-not-see-that-coming that I was fully satisfied with the ending. The setting was believable, the language, the characters - I was sucked into the story completely. A minor character with the same unusual name as my mother - I found seeing Mom's name in print utterly endearing - kept me puzzling throughout. What a tangle of secrets and bizarre connections! A wonderful light entertaining read. Have you read The Thirteenth Tale (Dianne Setterfield), or Wuthering Heights, (one of those Bronte women, I can't remember which one just now), or Jane Eyre, (another of the Bronte women), or The Woman in Black (the play by Stephen Mallatratt and Susan Hill, though I think it was a novel by Hill first)? Similar in all kinds of good ways. Recommended. I stayed home from work today, unwell from having not slept. The Curse of Morton Abbey kept me from sleeping the entire day away: I read another page, and another chapter, and the next bit, and another page until I got to the very last page. And now, perhaps, I'll be able to sleep tonight.

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