Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Romance

House of Silence by Sarah Barthel

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

With my ever-expanding book list, I find it hard to keep up with deadlines, and have a healthy work balance. But what I’ve come to realize is that this has made me a better reader. It takes me less time to become absorbed in a book, and I am able to tune out everything around me and read quickly and efficiently, thereby finishing books at a steady and fast pace. However, this ability depends on how interesting the novel itself is. Let me just say that this novel was interesting enough that I finished it in the span of a few hours!

Oak Park, Illinois, 1875. Isabelle Larkin knows what she wants her future to be like and who she wants to spend it with. She has decided, to the delight of her mother, to marry Gregory Gallagher, a charismatic and politically ambitious man who seems to truly care for her. While she doesn’t love him, she knows she will have a stable future with him, and is looking forward to their marriage – until she witnesses him committing a terrible crime. Unable to face the prospect of marrying him, Isabelle begs her mother to call off the engagement… but no one believes her. In order to escape this marriage, Isabelle feigns a mental breakdown and pretends to be mute so that she can be removed from the house and installed in Bellevue sanitarium. There, she finds a friend in another patient: Mary Todd Lincoln, whose husband was assassinated. For now, Isabelle feels safe as she maintains her image of a madwoman. But eventually, the truth must come out…

I quite liked this novel, with its mix of thriller and historical fiction! I’ve been meaning to read a book in this genre, so this novel gave me the perfect opportunity! The background detailing was very interesting, and I liked that the author didn’t dwell too much on the historical aspects, and kept the story moving forward. The characters in this novel are stereotypical and can be taken at face value, but in the case of this story, it actually worked as an advantage; it allowed me to focus on the story itself rather than get caught up in back stories and deep (and meaningless) character development. The story itself is simple, not like the complex thrillers I am accustomed to, but it was such a refreshing change! For once, the author isn’t trying to throw in every plot twist possible! The author decides to stick to one course of action and follows through with it, allowing the story to stay interesting and not get muddled. That’s my favorite thing about this novel; I was able to just enjoy the story moving along and didn’t need to think too much or even wonder what the author was trying to get at – because everything was clear as day! And sometimes, a novel like this is exactly the kind of distraction one needs! Overall, this was a well-written story with an interesting plot that is set in the 1800s. It is charming, fast-paced, and simple yet entertaining. If you are looking for any of those things, then give this novel a go!

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