Wednesday 27 December 2023

Book Review: The Fortunes of Olivia Richmond by Louise Davidson

The Fortunes of Olivia Richmond by Louise Davidson cover

AD* | After a terrible tragedy, governess Julia Pearlie finds herself with no job, home, or references. When she’s offered a position as companion to Miss Olivia Richmond, her luck appears to be turning. But Mistcoate House is full of secrets.

Olivia has a sinister reputation. The locals call her the Mistcoate Witch, thanks to her tarot readings, and her insistence that she can speak to the dead. Her father, Dr Richmond, believes this to be girlish fantasy and is looking to Julia to put a stop to it.

Determined to prove herself and shake off her own murky history, Julia sets to work trying to help Olivia become a proper young lady. However, as she becomes a fixture at Mistcoate, it is soon clear that there may be more to Olivia’s stories than Dr Richmond would have Julia believe – not least because somehow, Olivia seems to know something of the darkness that Julia desperately hoped she had left behind.

As the danger grows, and the winter chill wraps around the dark woods surrounding Mistcoate, Julia will have to fight to uncover the truth, escape her past – and save herself.

Louise Davidson's debut novel, The Fortunes of Olivia Richmond, immerses readers in a world of darkness, mystery, and tension. It creates a captivating blend of classic Gothic atmosphere and Victorian ghost stories.

The narrative unfolds around Julia Pearlie, a governess facing a bleak fate after a tragic incident leaves her jobless and homeless. A glimmer of hope appears when she accepts a position as a companion to Miss Olivia Richmond. However, Mistcoate House, Olivia's residence, harbours secrets that add an ominous layer to the tale.

With her Tarot readings and claims of speaking to the dead, Olivia has a sinister reputation as the Mistcoate Witch. Julia's task is to transform Olivia into a proper young lady. The characters are intricately woven into a plot that oscillates between character- and plot-driven, keeping readers engaged from the first page to the last.

The characterisation in this novel is a standout element. Despite their flaws, some characters are remarkably loveable, adding depth and authenticity to the story. Davidson skillfully places the flaws of the characters at the forefront, making them a central focus of the narrative. This choice adds complexity and realism, making the characters feel genuine and relatable.

The Fortunes of Olivia Richmond embraces its Gothic roots, delivering a creeping and eerie atmosphere that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. The plot is enthralling, with the winter chill wrapping around the dark woods of Mistcoate, amplifying the sense of danger.

The Fortunes of Olivia Richmond triumphs for Louise Davidson. This debut novel is a must-read for those who appreciate the timeless allure of classic Gothic tales. From its mysterious plot to the expertly crafted characters, the book stands as a testament to Davidson's ability to deliver a captivating and haunting story. Readers will find themselves entangled in the web of Mistcoate House, unable to escape until the final page is turned.

Rating: 5 stars

The Fortunes of Olivia Richmond is available to buy now.

* 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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