Book Title: The Curse of Morton Abbey
Author: Clarissa Harwood
Release Date: October 26th, 2021
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Gothic
My rating: 4/5 Stars
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?
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, you’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 eerie 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 (which is when I read it). 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 me 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 want to point out that the pacing was excellently done. It wasn’t 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.
Have you read The Curse of Morton Abbey? If you have, did you like it, or do your opinions differ from mine? I’d love to hear from you!