This book was great both as a thriller and as historical fiction. The mystery element sucked me in right away. Little bits of what happened were slowly revealed from the perspectives of Lady Anne, her husband, and Dr. Savage. This was done very skillfully. Even though I was kept in the dark about facts the characters knew, I never felt that the author was awkwardly manipulating the characters’ thoughts or the dialogue to keep these facts hidden. It was just enough to keep me constantly curious about what happened next without getting frustrating. My only complaint with this part of the book is that the constant surprising revelations usually were obvious to me before the characters reached the same conclusions. This made some of the most intense moments of the book feel a bit anticlimactic because I was there before the characters were.
From a historical fiction perspective, I really enjoyed that the plot was so tightly integrated into the time period. The author based many of her characters and plot points on real people and events. The way women and the insane were treated in the late 1900′s was essential to the plot and the plot gave interesting insight into the time period. There were a few tiny typos in my pdf version and the dialogue was occasionally a little rough, but for the most part, the writing was perfect for the time period. The author did a great job capturing language and attitudes that would have been prevalent at the time. Even cooler, she drew on many primary sources when writing some of the psychologists notes and other parts of the book. Although the material in this book was a bit darker than my typical fare, it completely won me over with the engaging mystery and excellent historical setting. Definitely an author I’ll be watching out for in hopes of a follow-up to this spectacular debut.This review first published on Doing Dewey.