Wednesday 12 August 2020

Book Review: The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey

The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey book cover

AD* | Some secrets are unspoken. Others are unspeakable...

August 1939.

Thirty-year-old Hetty Cartwright is tasked with the evacuation and safekeeping of the natural history museum’s collection of mammals. Once she and her exhibits arrive at Lockwood Manor, however, where they are to stay for the duration of the war, Hetty soon realizes that she’s taken on more than she’d bargained for.

Protecting her charges from the irascible Lord Lockwood and resentful servants is work enough, but when some of the animals go missing, and worse, Hetty begins to suspect someone – or something – is stalking her through the darkened corridors of the house.

As the disasters mount, Hetty finds herself falling under the spell of Lucy, Lord Lockwood’s beautiful but clearly haunted daughter. But why is Lucy so traumatized? Does she know something she’s not telling? And is there any truth to local rumours of ghosts and curses?

Part love story, part mystery, The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey is a gripping and atmospheric tale of family madness, long-buried secrets and hidden desires.

From the gorgeous cover to the intriguing storyline, beautiful prose, and spine-tingling Gothic atmosphere, The Animals at Lockwood Manor is a delight from start to finish.

The book features a number of references from classic Gothic literature - think Jane Eyre, The Woman in White, Rebecca, Wuthering Heights - and it is clear that Healey has drawn significant influence from these much-loved works. The result is a story that pays homage to the greats while still holding its own amongst contemporary fiction.

The narrative is shared by Hettie and Lucy, a fact which highlights their similarities despite the obvious differences in class, wealth, and social status. Both women are flawed yet endearing, and as the story progresses, more of their personalities are shown. This inherent likeability helps to keep the reader on their side as Hettie, in particular, faces up against Lord Lockwood and all he represents.

The relationship between Hettie and Lucy is sweet yet slow-growing. The two complement each other perfectly, and this most unlikely pairing is made all the better by their complete acceptance of the other's flaws. It's clear from their very first meeting that they will become firm friends, yet following their journey makes for a lovely read and is the perfect contrast to the creeping Gothic horror element of the book.

Lockwood Manor itself is the ideal setting for a Gothic story of this nature. Dark and brooding, the building sits imposingly over the landscape and is described so beautifully that you can almost picture yourself walking the long hallways of the manor. This gives the building its own sense of character; a looming presence that is a constant backdrop to every page.

Healey's wonderfully rich prose is the icing on the cake for this book. Each chapter is full of vivid imagery and striking descriptions which really bring the plot to life. At times, the prose becomes almost whimsical, following a thread of beautiful language and outstanding storytelling. The result is an unforgettable debut from an author surely destined for a great literary career.

The Animals at Lockwood Manor is an outstanding read and definitely comes highly recommended!

Rating: 5 stars

The Animals at Lockwood Manor is available to buy now.

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* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below!

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