– goodreads –
ARC received from the publisher (Titan Books) in exchange for an honest review.
I requested this completely on a whim, based entirely on the strength of the premise. It’s deliciously gothic – witchcraft, revenge, dark family secrets, revenge, ghosts, and lots and lots of murder – and I recommend it to anyone interested in fantasy with undertones of horror.
Asher Todd is hired by the Morwood family as a governess. Very soon, she becomes beloved by the children and indispensable to their grandmother, restoring her sight – but both the Morwood family and Asher have their dark secrets and hidden purposes.
First things first – I’m a sucker for a good mystery. I see that a character isn’t telling us everything and that the surroundings might not be as they seem and I must know more immediately. It is done well, the reveals are satisfying, and it made for a very easy, fast read. Whenever I picked it up, I couldn’t help but read chapters and chapters. The beginning is also fairly low-key, even slice-of-life as Asher settles into the household, which was even more of a draw.
But throughout, there is a strong undercurrent of wrongness. It’s very atmospheric and in the standard gothic vein, it’s clear that it will get fucked up when the secrets start coming out. Which it does. Oh boy, it does. I will not spoil any details but heed the content warnings with this one. It’s dark and full of sexism and injustice and characters willing to do anything to achieve their goals.
The one part I did not like was the romance subplot. There was no chemistry whatsoever and the characters didn’t really seem attracted to each other at all. At least it’s a pretty minor, easy to ignore part of the plot.
All in all, highly recommended if it sounds up your alley.
Recommended to: fans of gothic horror, witches, and folktale-inspired stuff
Not recommended to: those looking for a light read
Content warnings: lots of abuse (both past and present), threats of harm to children, references to sexual assault