Since California actually got the message that it’s winter this year (which means it’s been around 60 degrees for more than a single day and rained for more than a couple of hours), I have really been in the mood for some dark historical fiction. So when I got an email about Laura Anderson’s newest novel, The Darkling Bride, I knew I needed to read it. It was absolutely perfect timing, and it turned out to be the ideal book to devour on a rainy weekend.
(All reviews are spoiler-free unless otherwise noted.)
(From Goodreads) In 1883, the Lady Jenny Gallagher, age 23, died suddenly at her home of Deeprath Castle, deep in the Irish countryside. Though her death was ruled an accident, the precise circumstances are unknown.
In 1992, Cillian Gallagher and his beautiful wife Lily were found dead within the castle walls. A suicide/murder? Or two murders?
In 2015, Carragh Ryan is offered the job of taking an inventory of the vast library at Deeprath Castle. A great lover of books, Carragh can’t resist the opportunity to gain access to the historic collection. But what she finds at the castle—and in its enigmatic heir, Aidan Gallagher—leads Carragh ever deeper into the heart of an ancient and sinister family secret.
The Darkling Bride was a thoroughly engrossing historical mystery. It’s the kind of book that I love reading on an overcast weekend with a cozy blanket and a cup of tea. It was wonderfully dark and reminiscent of classics like Rebecca and Jane Eyre (both of which The Darkling Bride references), which I loved. But it was also a fun – albeit predictable – romance. Altogether, it was a really enjoyable read.
I’m definitely a fan of alternate timelines in historical fiction, and this book was no exception. There are two mysteries woven though this novel, and getting glimpses of both – one of which occurred in the 1880s the other in 1992 – added a lot to the story. More often than not, I tend to enjoy one storyline or timeline more than the others, but, in this case, I actually liked them all equally, which was a pleasant surprise. They tied together well, and I never felt like I wanted to get through one point of view and back to another, which is rare for me. I found the mysteries in this book really engaging as well. While I predicted the romance within the first few chapters (it’s not hard to see coming) the murder mystery was another matter. Despite there being a very small pool of suspects, I was a tad bit surprised by who the murder turned out to be. Not to mention the surprise additional mystery that pops up towards the end of the book and ties into both of the other mysteries. (Trust me, the book is not nearly as confusing as my explanation.)
But as fun as mystery and romance is, I have to say that my favorite part of this book was the setting. An old castle in Ireland? Yes, please! (Seriously, who do I need to marry to live in a history-filled castle in the middle of nowhere?) I loved the history of the castle and nearby sites. You all know I’m a huge history nerd and I always get excited when there’s a good historical element in a book. And I absolutely loved how the history itself tied into the story, both in the historical fiction and contemporary parts. It was so much fun to read!
★★★★☆ – Overall, The Darkling Bride, was a really enjoyable read. I liked the mix of modern romance and historical fiction (it reminded me a lot of Lauren Willig’s The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, which I read and loved in college). It was a fun read with just enough depth and mystery to keep me thinking about it long after I put it down. If you like historical fiction, murder mysteries, and the occasional rom com, I would definitely recommend The Darkling Bride. I’m looking forward to reading more of Laura Anderson’s work.
The Darkling Bride is available in stores now. (Pick up a copy on Amazon.)
To get the audiobook for free, use this link to sign up for a free trial of Audible and choose The Darkling Bride as one of your two free books.
This book was provided to me by the publisher. All opinions are my own.
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