The House of Lost Wives – Rebecca Hardy

Published By: Headline
Pages: 352
Released On: 13/10/2022

Secrets. Lies. And four missing wives.

1813. Lizzie’s beloved older sister Esme is sold in marriage to the aging Lord Blountford to settle their father’s debts. 

One year later, Esme is dead, and Lizzie is sent to take her place as Lord Blountford’s next wife.

Arriving at Ambletye Manor, Lizzie uncovers a twisted web of secrets, not least that she is to be the fifth mistress of this house.

Marisa. Anne. Pansy. Esme.

What happened to the four wives who came before her?

In possession of a unique gift, only Lizzie can hear their stories, and try to find a way to save herself from sharing the same fate.

*****

Thanks to NetGalley and Headline for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.

It’s part regency novel, part gothic thriller, part ghost story.

I did think, given its premise, that it would be frightening, but it’s not particularly – the ghosts appear as a sort of comfort, a friend rather than foe.

It’s easy to read. If you’re like me, you’ll be so lost in it that you’ll find yourself at the end before you know it. But what a satisfying conclusion it is.

I really enjoyed all the different characters. That’s not to say they’re all pleasant characters, in fact, a number of them are quite vile indeed, but they’re excellently written. If you’re going to write a nasty character, then in my opinion, you go hard or go home. I’ve got no time for wishy washy baddies. The main protagonist of Lizzie is a fabulous character from beginning to start. A woman in the 1800s was expected to stay silent and follow a man with no questions asked. But she is not that kind of woman, and that’s refreshing.

Given it’s quite serious plot, it was surprisingly funny and lighthearted, with real moments of love and trust and friendship.

I would say about 80% of the novel happens in the space of a few days. For me, this had positive and negative effects. If it had happened over a longer period then perhaps conversations and whatnot could have been stretched out and digested more, made bigger perhaps. But on the other hand, the speed means everything is very rushed, you get this sense of emergency which makes it very fast paced and exciting.

I admit that some bits were perhaps slightly unbelievable but I think it works in this situation. I think I would have preferred a bit of resistance to Lizzie’s paranormal confessions, but I can overlook that because I feel it’s really well written.

It’s such a brilliant, absorbing novel with great storytelling, and I would happily recommend it to anyone, particularly for a cold, foggy, autumn evening.

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