This would have been a good book choice for YA readers wanting a spooky book for Hallowe’en.
There’s rather a muddle over the title of this book and the author’s name. I received The Seventh Wife from NetGalley (many thanks!) but look on Amazon and you’ll find The Seventh Bride. The author writes YA novels as T Kingfisher but for adults as Ursula Vernon. On her website she describes the book as a fairy tale. She writes ‘Rhea is an ordinary miller’s daughter, engaged to be married under suspicious circumstances to a man not of her choosing. He has unknown powers and a manor house full of mysterious women. Rhea has a hedgehog. It claims to be ordinary, but normal hedgehogs don’t act like that. It’s probably not going to be enough.’
As you begin reading, there’s a strange contrast between a mythical/medieval past where magic co-exists with religion and the saints, and the Americanisms, e.g. ‘gotten’ and Rhea’s mother calling her ‘Honey’. Rhea is instructed by her future husband to follow a path (previously non-existent) to his house. She knows this can’t be right and once she gets there, realises she will never be able to leave. It’s a house of horrors! Strong meat for the young but as it’s written for a younger audience, you remain convinced that somehow things will come right. Crevan, Rhea’s betrothed, sets her a nightly task, saying that if she doesn’t complete it, ‘I will marry you.’ By now out heroine has a good idea what happens to Crevan’s wives, so when she is set a task she can’t possibly complete, she dreads what he will do to her. Can she escape? By the time I reached the last few chapters, I didn’t move until I’d finished the book and found out. Wow. And I absolutely loved the hedgehog.
The Brontë Plot, Katherine Reay
Reading this was a triumph of hope over experience, as it’s well known I don’t like spin-offs from classic works. The author has already published Dear Mr Knightley and Lizzy and Jane; easy to guess what they’re about. In my opinion there’s not enough Brontë to justify the title, so I needn’t have worried.
Lucy works for Sid, a brilliant interior designer. Her own passion is for books; the stories her father read her when she was a child and the old books in the shop. ‘I’m not trying to collect books, per se. I like copies I can read and fold and wrestle around with. The ones at the shop are too delicate to really dig into.’ ‘She held (a copy of Jane Eyre) to her nose and inhaled the leather, dust, ink, and history in a single whiff before placing it on its side atop two others. All the sisters, together. Again.’ But there’s something wrong in Lucy’s head, a dishonest streak which makes her forge old signatures in the books and cheat over a special delivery for Sid. Has she inherited this trait from her father, who left years ago to make his home in England?
When gorgeous James buys a book they fall for each other but he rejects her when he finds out about the cheating. Nevertheless his grandmother, Helen, asks Lucy to go with her to England on a buying trip. So the dying woman and the young one set off, each with a different agenda which involves finding out something about the past. Will their missions be accomplished? Will James and Lucy get together again and Sid be forgiving? It’s quite fun to find out, especially if you like to read about books, beautiful objects and England.
Another book read courtesy of NetGalley.