I haven’t done a mini-review in a while and I thought it would be perfect to bring it back to chat about a gothic horror novella written by my friend and now debut author, Claire L. Smith. We actually went to University together and I have been feeling so proud of her and this achievement. It was even better when I picked up her book and absolutely loved it! It was a perfect spooky pick for October.
On the outskirts of London, 1855, mortician and funeral director Helena Morrigan struggles with her limited finances and the heavy burdens of her past. Desperate to secure herself, she takes up residence in an aged house closer the graveyard, closer to the lost souls that sense her torment and are determined to take her place in the mortal world.
As she tries to tame and free the ghostly figures around her, she becomes acquainted with the owners of the home, the recently orphaned siblings, Eric, Audrey and Christian Tarter.
Yet, the souls she wants to save are on edge as a horrific serial killer runs rampant, giving Helena a boost in business and suspicion. Against her best efforts, Helena is suddenly thrown into a bloody mystery where new and old friendships are tested, innocents are maimed and a horrific family secret that threatens her chance at a peaceful existence and her existence itself.
The first word that comes to mind with this novella is that it was truly atmospheric. The writing set up the world and the atmosphere perfectly and while reading it, I just craved to see this be brought to life on screen. Set in 1855, the language was clear through the tone and manner of speaking and Helena, the main protagonist, was so elusive and interesting. We don’t know much about her past but we know she can see things that others can’t and as she winds up in the middle of a mystery full of serial killings, she finds herself in grave danger.
I don’t read much horror (but I certainly want to read more of it) but I thoroughly enjoyed this novella. It didn’t even feel that short, if anything I really wanted more. Reading this story, creepy doesn’t even cover the full feeling because it was truly scary and spooky at many times. I could feel my heart beating a little faster as I got deeper into the novella and I truly did not know what was coming next. It was for sure a bit of a surprise and the ending was satisfying yet not, because I just want more! I loved that I wanted to read more about these characters, get to know them even better and explore this 1855 world I got a glimpse of. I feel like this could definitely be the first in a series of novellas or become its own series. I loved the writing, the spookiness, Helena as a character in general and all we got to meet. This got me so emotionally invested in such a short time, so I can’t wait to read more of Claire’s work and hopefully see more of Helena in the future.
Have you read any horror books for the spooky season of October?
Until next time,