The Quickening - Rhiannon Ward (ARC)
"Feminist gothic fiction set between the late 19th century and the early 20th century - an era of burgeoning spiritualism and the suffragette movement - that couldn't be more relevant today.
England, 1925. Louisa Drew lost her husband in the First World War and her six-year-old twin sons in the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. Newly re-married to a war-traumatised husband and seven months pregnant, Louisa is asked by her employer to travel to Clewer Hall in Sussex where she is to photograph the contents of the house for auction.
She learns Clewer Hall was host to an infamous séance in 1896, and that the lady of the house has asked those who gathered back then to come together once more to recreate the evening. When a mysterious child appears on the grounds, Louisa finds herself compelled to investigate and becomes embroiled in the strange happenings of the house. Gradually, she unravels the long-held secrets of the inhabitants and what really happened thirty years before... and discovers her own fate is entwined with that of Clewer Hall's."
TW/CW: child loss, miscarriage
I received an ARC of The Quickening by Rhiannon Ward for free by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much to Rhiannon Ward, Trapeze Books and NetGalley! The Quickening will be published on 20th August 2020 and will be available on GoodReads and Amazon.
In The Quickening we join our main character, Louisa Drew, in 1925. She has been specifically asked to photograph an infamous house down in Sussex in exchange for a commission that is too big to refuse, especially as she is struggling for money. However, the house is shrouded in mystery and known for a scandalous seance from 1896 which even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle attended. Can you imagine being at that party?! The family want to recreate the seance but soon discover that spirits from the other side are the least of their worries.
Louisa is a talented photographer and naturally inquisitive. She's going through a tough time after losing her husband to the First World War and her two sons to illness. Now she's remarried, for stability not for love, and has a new child on the way. I liked how independent and determined Louisa was. She wasn't going to let her husband stop her from taking this job, even though he is very old fashioned and doesn't like her working.
After a mysterious death with suspicious circumstances occurs after the recreated seance, Louisa is adamant to get to the bottom of it. She is certain that there is something more sinister afoot even as the family do their best to get her to drop it. I enjoyed her unwavering stubbornness and she was an engaging protagonist.
I thought this story had a really intriguing concept and I love how it was described. If you show me a book that is described as a "feminist gothic fiction" then I HAVE to read it! I enjoyed how descriptive it was and how it could be haunting and creepy in places. I'm such a huge wimp when it comes to ghost stories but I do love it when they give me chills! Plus there were some clever twists and turns which added to the mystery of the house. The house was personified so well it almost became a character of its own.
The Quickening is an enjoyable ghost story and murder mystery. Great for readers who like a slow paced and suspenseful story!
Thank you again to NetGalley, Trapeze Books & Rhiannon Ward for the opportunity to read The Quickening!