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Fyneshade: A Sunday Times Historical Fiction Book of 2023

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Fyneshade is published by Viper Books today (that’s Thursday 18th May 2023) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow next year. Fyneshade, however, is no Kitty Peck mystery – this is something else entirely, and comparisons would be foolish – beyond them all being well written. Henry James fans will also love the literary nod to his most influential supernatural tale, The Turn of The Screw-I don’t want to spoil the surprise on that front so I’ll leave things there, but trust me the payoff is definitely worth it!

Personally, I absolutely love a good, gothic slow-burn particularly when it’s as detailed, emotional and full of twists as this was.The descriptions of the household are detailed and gothic and certainly add to mystery surrounding the family. After her grandmother dies and after an affair with a young gentleman ends badly, Martha has little choice but to become a governess. The author keeps the reader hooked for a long time, working agonisingly slowly towards the climax of the story, the viscous tension is really wonderful and should be digested just slowly. Many would find much to fear in Fyneshade's dark and crumbling corridors, its unseen master and silent servants.

There’s something about a creepy house with a cast of mysterious, untrustworthy characters that always appeals. On the day of her grandmother's funeral, Marta discovers that she is to be sent to be governess at Fyneshade, her charge the young daughter of the owner, Sir William Pritchard.What I liked about this is Griffin's writing on the sentence level: this oozes lavish Gothic atmosphere with dark and baroque interiors and that ominous sense of corruption just out of sight.

Grace, the little girl she is sent to look after is, in Marta’s eyes, a pathetic, unlikeable soul she makes very little effort to get to know. It reminded me of Mexican Gothic or The Taxidermist's Lover, no serious action until the last 20% but when it gets there all the pieces come together and it's worth it! On enquiry, she encounters silence, though she eventually strikes up something of a friendship with the housekeeper, Mrs Gurney. She thinks herself above everyone else, so what kept me reading above it being an engrossing tale, was hoping to see she gets her comeuppance.Marta very much looks down on the other characters in the book and her sense of superiority will not appeal to some readers. She was also downright cruel towards Grace at times, who was only allowed to go to the automaton if she did what Marta wanted. Now the woman in this novel is Jane Eyre if Jane Eyre had joined forces with the mad wife in the attic.

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