Saturday, May 4, 2024

Stormcrow Castle by Amanda Grange


Note: this book has been rereleased as CASTLE OF SECRETS but I personally like the older title and cover better.

Amanda Grange is a new-to-me author. I actually found one of her books at a thrift shop and it had been critically panned. Bad average ratings don't usually scare me off, though, and when I had finished reading MR. DARCY, VAMPYRE, I actually found that I had had an incredibly good time, 2.89 average rating or no. I found out that a lot of her backlist is actually on KU, so I started downloading her books one after the other, and each was better than the last!

STORMCROW CASTLE is an absolutely fantastic book, which hits all the notes you would expect in a gothic romance. It's very Jane Eyre in nature, minus the governess bit, so if you enjoy books that have the Jane vibe, you will eat this up on a silver spoon.

Helena is engaged to this guy she's kind of ambivalent about, but when she goes to the castle where her aunt works, she finds out that her aunt has mysteriously disappeared-- to visit a "sick sister," except Helena, being her niece, knows that her aunt doesn't have a sister. Disturbed, she gets the brilliant idea to pretend to be the new housekeeper so she can infiltrate the house and get the intel on her aunt's whereabouts.

Lord Torkrow (doesn't his name sound like a Pokemon???) is the man who owns the castle, although everyone in town refers to him and his family as stormcrows, which seems to be a bird of ill-omens. Strange cries come from the attic, there's a rumor that he was in love with his brother's wife and caused both their untimely deaths, and now, with the missing aunt, Helena soon wonders if maybe Torkrow is a serial murderer-- and if maybe he might plan to do away with her, too.

I just had so much fun with this book. There's sinister graveyard shenanigans, secret rooms, masquerade parties, beautiful writing, longing looks, and, in tradition of Jane Eyre, a hero who is described as ugly at a first glance, which is very Edward Rochester. I seem to recall that the heroine was plain as well(?), and I really enjoyed that. Especially since, with all her detective work and banter, Helena gives the hero plenty of reasons to respect her beyond wanting to bang her because she's hot. (Not that that isn't sometimes the vibe, too.) I'm honestly shocked this author isn't more popular.

4.5 out of 5 stars

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