By: Jane Nickerson
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publishing Date: March 2013
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: April 1, 2013
Talk about Jane Austen with a twist! In fact, this is one of those novels that offers the historical and romantic beauty of Austen, yet also provides enough spine-tingling chills for the most modern-day paranormal and suspense lover to jump on board.
Our main character is Sophia. A good girl, she has lived a wonderful life thus far, although money has been extremely tight. She’s only ever seen ‘riches’ when her godfather - an old friend of her father’s - would send gifts to her on birthdays, holidays, etc. He was always doting on her, and now the time has come for Sophia to meet him face-to-face.
When her father dies suddenly, Sophia knows she must find a way to support her siblings and accepts an invitation from her godfather to come stay with him at his stunning Louisiana estate called Wyndriven Abbey.
This is 1855, and slaves are a part of life at the Abbey, but the most uncomfortable thing for Sophia is her guardian’s slightly overzealous feelings for her. Bernard de Cressac certainly doesn’t lack when it comes to charm; however, as his secrets are revealed one by one, Sophia soon learns that he has buried many wives who suffered various ‘accidents,’ as well as one who committed suicide. As Bernard goes off on his various business trips, Sophia uncovers even more information that makes her wonder if there is any chance whatsoever of her breaking free from the frightening castle alive.
Meeting up with a Reverend Gideon, Sophia soon understands that he is the only one she can count on to get out of the situation that’s growing more strange by the second. From a war hero to a literal monster, Sophia must use her wits to get out of the clutches of this man.
This author is so good at her job that the reader can immediately feel their own skin start to melt as she explains the heat that’s felt in a carriage ride through the Deep South, and they can almost see the weight of the humidity upon the oppressed willow trees. From the explanations of the mythological paintings gracing the Abbey’s walls to the stunning grounds that hold a medieval, gated chapel that’s locked in order to keep prying eyes away, each page of this book feels like a literal dream.
Quill says: This is pure and utter poetry wrapped around a haunting tale readers will never forget!