Thank you NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press for the opportunity to read this book. All thoughts and opinions are mine.
Synopsis: Sophie’s world is shattered when disaster bankrupts her family. She’s still reeling from the news when she’s offered an unexpected solution: Mr Argenton, a wealthy stranger, asks for her hand in marriage.
Marrying Mr Argenton will restore her family’s fortunes and save them from scandal, but condemns Sophie to a life in Northwood, a vast and unnaturally dark mansion situated hours from civilization.
Sophie struggles to adjust to her new position as mistress over the desolate house. Mr Argenton’s relatives are cold, and Mr Argenton himself is keeping secrets. Even worse, the house is more than it seems.
The piano plays in the middle of the night. Blood drips from the ceiling. Sophie is pulled towards the terrifying truth: Northwood’s ancient halls are haunted. The malevolent spirits—produced by grisly deaths—resent her intrusion into their home.
Trapped in Northwood and desperate for an escape, Sophie’s fate is further complicated as she finds herself drawn to the tall, dark-eyed man she married. She suspects her feelings are returned, but Mr Argenton is hiding something... and his secrets are so dangerous that they might just be unforgivable. (Amazon)
Publication Date: October 15, 2015
Genre: Romance / Gothic / Horror
Rating: 3 stars
***BEWARE POSSIBLE SPOILERS***
I'm not one to prefer timid, meek little females in novels. That's not said as an insult to them, that's just my preference. I tend to prefer badass, kickass women who more often than not tend to tear into a room and command all attention. Both have their pros and cons, but if I'm presented with the former, I just hope that she'll eventually grow a backbone and bring the story around to center around her.
I am delighted that Sophie saved herself in the end. Quite literally too, as a matter of fact.
I'm forever grateful for the teacher that introduced Edgar Allan Poe into my syllabus back in the year I-no-longer-remember, because it began my lifetime love affair with all things Gothic in literature. Granted, when you read a book of this genre, there is going to be the chance that the author writes a story which falls into a traditional setting rather than a modern one. That will bring to the forefront the romantic, sometimes angsty, sometimes eye-rolling moments that accompany these settings. And you have plenty of that here, but there's also the delightful dark ambiance that one is to hope for.
Sophie's introduction to the Argenton's family estate of Northwood is as bleak and imposing as one might expect, with mazes of hallways and plenty of skeletons in the closet. Again, quite literally. The story brought to mind so many references to Dark Shadows, Rebecca and even the film Crimson Peak, that it was hardly surprising to stumble through the first half of the book. But, thankfully, right around the time that Sophie began to show the little granule of strength hiding within herself, the plot became more intriguing.
I only wish that we'd had more time for our characters to be tortured—I mean that lightly, mostly—by the Grimlock, the dark creature that has haunted the Argenton family for generations since its initial pact with it. What a cruel and vicious being this is, with its own little army of the dead. The red door, often used in various forms in other stories, was an entertaining factor to include. Step through it and you step through the Northwood mansion's alter and mirror image, where the Grimlock lives and its heart resides. How the creature is (supposedly) destroyed and the family is saved brought the novel to a climaxing conclusion and made up for any dragging in storytelling that occurred for the first part.
Sophie and Joseph's romance is incredibly rushed—with her love for him being a revelation after they have been in each others' company for no more than whopping five days—but it's sweet, even if it's also incredibly corny more often than not. Rose was a good antagonist, albeit flat. But I look forward to Elise's part in the second book, House of Secrets.
With an open-ended possibility at the close, the Argentons might not quite have been saved yet, and I'm eager to see this brought to a close.