Historical Fiction, Romance

House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I love historical fiction but I really don’t read much in the genre. Maybe because the most recent novels out there always seem to be either sci-fi/fantasy or mystery/thrillers. Either way, I relish the chance to read a historical fiction novel every now and then and this was one of those opportunities! So here is my review:

London, 1662:
There was something the Winter Queen needed to tell him. She fought for the strength to speak.
‘The crystal mirror is a danger. It must be destroyed – ‘
He replied instantly. ‘It will’.

Ashdown, Oxfordshire, present day: Holly gets a call from her niece saying that Holly’s brother, Ben, has disappeared. As Holly desperately tries to find Ben, she finds out that he was researching their family tree. And he has left Holly 2 clues: an ornate antique mirror and a diary of Lavinia, a 19th century courtesan who lived at Ashdown House before it burned to the ground 200 years ago. Intrigued, and determined to find out more about the tragedy at Ashdown, Holly’s only hope is that uncovering the truth about the past will lead her to Ben.

This was a historical fiction novel with romance and some magical elements to it. And I loved this blend of genres! I was definitely interested in the events happening in the past, but Holly’s story is also very intriguing. The author did a great job of tying in the two different time points and creating such memorable and unique female characters. I loved the diary entries featuring Lavinia and how all of the pieces of the puzzle fit together. I wish there had been more of a focus on the supernatural elements; it was such an intriguing feature what with its historical significance, and I felt that the author could have allowed it to play a more prominent role. It would have made the connection between the past and the present a bit stronger, and also give the myth behind the objects a little more complexity. Surprisingly enough, I really liked the romance between Holly and Mark, which occurred in the passages focusing on the present; it was at times cheesy but the intensity was believable and the attraction felt genuine. All in all, this was a solid piece of work and I really enjoyed reading it! 3/5 stars from me!

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