The Stranger Diaries
A dark story has been brought to terrifying life. Can the ending be rewritten in time?A gripping contemporary Gothic thriller from the bestselling author of the Dr Ruth Galloway mysteries: Wilkie Collins and MR James meet Gone Girl and Disclaimer.Clare Cassidy is no stranger to murder. As a literature teacher specialising in the Gothic writer RM Holland, she teaches a short course on it every year. Then Clare's life and work collide tragically when one of her colleagues is found dead, a line from an RM Holland story by her body. The investigating police detective is convinced the writer's works somehow hold the key to the case.Not knowing who to trust, and afraid that the killer is someone she knows, Clare confides her darkest suspicions and fears about the case to her journal. Then one day she notices some other writing in the diary. Writing that isn't hers...

The Stranger Diaries Details

TitleThe Stranger Diaries
Author
ReleaseNov 1st, 2018
PublisherQuercus
Rating
GenreMystery, Gothic, Crime, Thriller, Fiction

The Stranger Diaries Review

  • Paromjit
    January 1, 1970
    Elly Griffiths writes the perfect October read with this contemporary take on the Victorian Gothic novel set on the Sussex coast. Attractive Clare Cassidy is a divorced English teacher with a 15 year old daughter, Georgia, teaching at local comprehensive school, Talgarth High, where there is a building that Roland Montgomery Holland, a reclusive Victorian writer lived, a man famous for a short story titled The Stranger. Clare is writing a biography of RM Holland and is interested in the death of Elly Griffiths writes the perfect October read with this contemporary take on the Victorian Gothic novel set on the Sussex coast. Attractive Clare Cassidy is a divorced English teacher with a 15 year old daughter, Georgia, teaching at local comprehensive school, Talgarth High, where there is a building that Roland Montgomery Holland, a reclusive Victorian writer lived, a man famous for a short story titled The Stranger. Clare is writing a biography of RM Holland and is interested in the death of his wife, Alice Avery, rumoured to have fallen to her death, and his mysterious daughter, Mariana, about whom virtually nothing is known. Alice's ghost is said to haunt the school, and if seen, is said to foreshadow a death. Clare's best friend and colleague, Ella Elphick, is found murdered with a note that is a quote from The Stranger 'Hell is empty'. In a narrative delivered by three female voices, Clare, Georgia and DS Harbinder Kaur, aspects of The Stranger are interspersed throughout the novel, as creepy and menacing echoes of the Victorian story are to be found in a series of murders in the present.Ella was a well liked member of the English department and the entire school is shocked by her death. The police investigation is led by DS Kaur who attended Talgarth High as a pupil and her experiences of the school pepper the story. Clare is less than forthcoming to Kaur about the intrigue in the department and Ella, but then events take a sinister turn and more murders take place. Clare has been a long term keeper of personal diaries documenting her inner thoughts and events in her life. She is left afraid and unsettled when she discovers someone else has written in her diary at which point she hands her journals to Kaur who finds them revealing of Clare, and the truth of Ella's character and personal life. Clare thinks she knows her daughter, Georgie, rather well, but there is much that Georgia keep secret, including her attendance of a creative writing course run by Bryony Hughes, known as a white witch. In the meantime, Clare finds a romantic interest in Cambridge academic, Henry Hamilton, who has unearthed further information on RM Holland.Elly Griffiths always writes compelling stories with gripping characters and this is no different. There is plenty of atmosphere of the ghostly and menacing kind along with that of the location with its dense sea mists and abandoned warehouses. Whilst Clare was of less interest to me as a person, I loved her daughter, Georgie, with her much older boyfriend, the dog, Herbert, and the gay DS Harbinder Kaur is a person I would definitely like to meet again with her wit, her family, her mum that waits up for her and cooks such fabulous food. This is a great read for this time of year with Halloween approaching. I found it an enthralling read which I recommend highly. Many thanks to Quercus for an ARC.
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  • Linda
    January 1, 1970
    Heavy draperied rooms, long winding staircases, and imposing carved wooden doors lend themselves to a Victorian Gothic panoramic view. Elly Griffiths sets this treasure box of a story within the walls of Talgarth Academy in Sussex. There's an array of buildings that stretch across the campus including the Old Building that houses the original effects of the writer, R.M. Holland. Holland lived there with his wife, Alice, and an elusive daughter, Mariana. According to legend, no one knows what hap Heavy draperied rooms, long winding staircases, and imposing carved wooden doors lend themselves to a Victorian Gothic panoramic view. Elly Griffiths sets this treasure box of a story within the walls of Talgarth Academy in Sussex. There's an array of buildings that stretch across the campus including the Old Building that houses the original effects of the writer, R.M. Holland. Holland lived there with his wife, Alice, and an elusive daughter, Mariana. According to legend, no one knows what happened to Mariana. Alice, dear Alice, was to have taken a tumble down the lush staircase and never recovered. Students claim to have seen a white mist floating at times with a definite chill in the air. An immediate death was to occur after the sighting like clockwork.We're introduced to Clare Cassidy, a literature teacher, who is smitten with The Stranger by Holland and implements the story into her classes. She is presently writing her own book on Holland's peculiar life and career and wishes to find out what happened to Mariana. Georgie, her fifteen year old daughter, resides with Clare off campus and attends the Academy. Clare has been divorced from her husband, Simon, for the past two years. Clare has no idea of what murderous intent will be assigned on this semester's syllabus.A sudden pounding on Clare's front door marks the arrival of tragic news. Ella, best friend and co-worker, has been stabbed to death in her own cottage. DS Harbinder Kaur is lead investigator. Griffiths has created quite the multi-faceted character here. Kaur is bright, witty, and highly analytical by nature. Her backstory is layered with interesting detail and the reader is drawn in immediately. It's my hope that Elly Griffiths brings Kaur back front and center in another book.The story weaver lines up many threads throughout with inserts of The Stranger between chapters and references to The Woman in White. Pay attention to the Shakespearean quote from The Tempest: "Hell is empty and all the devils are here." A luscious literature stew simmering on a burner of mystery told in revolving chapters by the main characters. Truly a classic who-done-it with all the trimmings.I received a copy of The Stranger Diaries through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to the talented Elly Griffiths and to Quercus Books for the opportunity.
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  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    Although I was interested in the description of this novel, I was, initially, a little wary. I had tried Elly Griffiths popular Ruth Galloway series, and stalled with it. However, I am glad that I gave this a try, as I absolutely loved it and it has made me determined to go back and give Ruth Galloway another try.This is a clever, literary mystery, with an excellent cast of characters. Clare Cassidy is a divorced English teacher, living with teenage daughter, Georgie and working at Talgarth High Although I was interested in the description of this novel, I was, initially, a little wary. I had tried Elly Griffiths popular Ruth Galloway series, and stalled with it. However, I am glad that I gave this a try, as I absolutely loved it and it has made me determined to go back and give Ruth Galloway another try.This is a clever, literary mystery, with an excellent cast of characters. Clare Cassidy is a divorced English teacher, living with teenage daughter, Georgie and working at Talgarth High. Although a modern secondary school, there is an Old Building, where Gothic author, R.M. Holland once worked. Indeed, his study remains, intact, at the top of the building and Clare is writing a book about him. However, when we meet her, her research has stalled and she is teaching a creative writing class in the holidays. When fellow English teacher, Elly Elphick, is murdered, it sends shock waves through the school. There is a quote left by the body and then messages are written in Clare’s private diary…I particularly enjoyed the characters in this novel. Spiky, assertive, D S Harbinder Kaur and her partner, Neil Winston, added an excellent dimension – so often in crime novels you have either interesting suspects, or interesting investigators, but this novel has both. There is also an engaging academic flavour, with Henry H. Hamilton, a Cambridge academic, contacting Clare about some possible information he has on R.M. Holland, and a rather creepy teacher, Bryony Hughes, who seems to see herself as a modern Miss Jean Brodie. Over-riding the story are snippets from R.M. Holland’s most famous story, which mirrors events in a very creepy way. A really good cast of possible suspects makes it hard for you to spot the killer and I enjoyed Clare’s diary snippets too – as well as those of Georgie. Diary writing might be a dying art, but hopefully Elly Griffiths will persuade some readers to take up their pen. Overall, I loved this and I particularly hope that D S Kaur will appear in future books. I am now, most definitely, an Elly Griffiths convert! I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.
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  • Tammie
    January 1, 1970
    The Stranger Diaries was a solid 4 stars for me. A mystery/thriller, this book centers around main characters Clare (a divorced English teacher who specializes in RM Holland), Georgie (her 15 year old daughter), and Harbinder Kaur (a detective). Most of this thriller centers around the school Talgarth High-this is where the famous Victorian writer RM Holland wrote and lived. An interesting character, Clare spends some of her free time researching aspects of his life for a book she is writing. Th The Stranger Diaries was a solid 4 stars for me. A mystery/thriller, this book centers around main characters Clare (a divorced English teacher who specializes in RM Holland), Georgie (her 15 year old daughter), and Harbinder Kaur (a detective). Most of this thriller centers around the school Talgarth High-this is where the famous Victorian writer RM Holland wrote and lived. An interesting character, Clare spends some of her free time researching aspects of his life for a book she is writing. The real mystery in Stranger Diaries begins when fellow English teacher Elle is murdered in her home with a quote written on her body-a quote from Holland’s story “The Stranger”. Someone is also leaving messages in Clare’s personal diary-could it be the killer!? Told from multiple POVs, readers get to know the main characters in better detail and their observations and thoughts on Elle’s murder. Overall, Stranger Diaries is a slower paced book but well-worth the read. Recommended to fans of mystery/thriller books.
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  • Liz Barnsley
    January 1, 1970
    Modern gothic with a noir feel, a creepy intelligently woven story and a proper old school whodunit, The Stranger Diaries is a beautifully immersive reading experience. I read it all in one go. Excellent. Full review for publication in November.
  • Blair
    January 1, 1970
    Clare teaches English – key stage 3 in term time, adult creative writing courses over the holidays – and specialises in the work of R.M. Holland, a 19th-century writer of ghost stories whose personal life was as lurid as his fiction. At the beginning of the book, Clare receives a phone call with the awful news that her friend and colleague Ella has been murdered. She's later told a handwritten note was found next to Ella's body: a phrase from The Tempest, 'hell is empty'. The quote also happens Clare teaches English – key stage 3 in term time, adult creative writing courses over the holidays – and specialises in the work of R.M. Holland, a 19th-century writer of ghost stories whose personal life was as lurid as his fiction. At the beginning of the book, Clare receives a phone call with the awful news that her friend and colleague Ella has been murdered. She's later told a handwritten note was found next to Ella's body: a phrase from The Tempest, 'hell is empty'. The quote also happens to have links to Holland's best-known story, The Stranger, and soon it seems that Holland's work could be instrumental in identifying Ella's killer.Elly Griffiths is best known as the author of the Ruth Galloway crime novels, a series I've only dipped my toe into – I read the first book, The Crossing Places, about 7 years ago, and found it enjoyable, but not interesting enough for me to persist further. The Stranger Diaries, meanwhile, is a standalone, billed as 'a contemporary gothic thriller'.Before starting this I'd seen a couple of lukewarm reviews suggesting the gothic elements were just window dressing, which made me feel a bit wary. But what quickly becomes apparent – and it's not exactly surprising given her background – is that Griffiths really knows how to write a story that grips you from page to page. It's as hooky as a bush full of sticky buds. (Side note: was prompted to look up the proper name for these; it's Galium aparine or 'cleavers'. 'Sticky buds' was the name I grew up with but apparently some people call it 'sticky willy'?!) There are numerous narrative voices in the book, and they do actually sound and feel like different people, Clare and Harbinder especially. And I for one was pleased with how much a spooky, chilling atmosphere pervades the story.There are some slightly grating implausibilities – for example anachronistic language in Holland's story and his letters. I also knew immediately there was something off about one character, simply because there is a situation in the book I found completely unbelievable, and from there... well, let's just say it's quite easy to figure certain things out.What I look for in books like this is pure enjoyment. I want something I can curl up on the sofa with and devour. The Stranger Diaries suited those needs perfectly – plus it has a Halloween setting. And because I was interested in the characters, it didn't really bother me that 'whodunnit' is obvious. If this also turns into a series, I'd consider reading more, especially if they all have gothic tendencies.I received an advance review copy of The Stranger Diaries from the publisher through NetGalley.TinyLetter | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr
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  • Richard
    January 1, 1970
    Two books for the price of one.Elly Griffiths has a new crime mystery that has no direct link with her two established series. One of the things it does have in common is that it is very good. Full of her delightful humour and investable characters but for her as an author a bold venture as lacking the security of the familiar. It strays into uncharted territory moreover as there is a cap doffed to gothic horror and ghostly terror.Interspersed with the modern day fiction is the frightening tale Two books for the price of one.Elly Griffiths has a new crime mystery that has no direct link with her two established series. One of the things it does have in common is that it is very good. Full of her delightful humour and investable characters but for her as an author a bold venture as lacking the security of the familiar. It strays into uncharted territory moreover as there is a cap doffed to gothic horror and ghostly terror.Interspersed with the modern day fiction is the frightening tale of a Stranger on a train who recounts a horror story while the journey is delayed, fittingly he narrates his story on 31st October, as it concerned events that happened on previous Halloween nights.The mantra “Hell is empty” ties this story into the modern murder mystery as an English teacher is found dead. With the body is a note which is a quote from The Stranger which also relates to a quotation from The Tempest.Set in part within a school English department which in itself shares part of Holland House where the author of The Stranger lived and where his wife is a noted ghostly apparition. Elly blends the fiction of the narrated tale on the lonely train with her modern murder mystery. The detective team in the police investigation are as lost as we readers are. The book tells its story through the perspective of three characters which spins the narration around like a fairground ride and disorientate one’s own focus on who is perhaps less open and truthful.It is almost a play within a play full of drama and high pitched tension. It is a genuine stand-alone by a well respected author who does not need to enhance her reputation but this novel clearly does that by its originality and should seal her self-belief. The Stranger Diaries reflects well on her story telling ability and her writing prowess.I loved this homage to English Literature and thought it a fitting tale to demonstrate real skill for an accomplished author at ease in her work and in love with literature.I can imagine the plot has moved across the waters of Elly’s subconscious since her own student days, like some sea fret rolling ashore.It is always a pleasure to meet Elly at book events and signings. Behind bright, intelligent eyes you know that there is talent with so much more to give. I am delighted to say that twinkle in her eyes just got brighter as this new novel is a tour de force.Other authors look away now. She is also one of my favourite modern writers as a person and as a exponent of her art. And the reading audience shout. “More..........”
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  • Jess at JessicaWrites.co.uk
    January 1, 1970
    DNF @ 5%I am just not a fan of the way this is written and it's making it incredibly difficult to read and get into/invested. I feel bad for not even getting 25% through as this was an ARC but I just can't bring myself to carry on.
  • Lucy Banks
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.An eerie, cleverly written whodunnit - very enjoyable!It's always a pleasure when I dive into a book with no preconceptions and am pleasantly enthralled by what lies within! I had no idea what sort of story would be, but right from the start, became swiftly engrossed in it. Clare Cassidy is an attractive middle-aged woman - working at a school as a teacher, with a teenage daughter called Georgia. The school happens to I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.An eerie, cleverly written whodunnit - very enjoyable!It's always a pleasure when I dive into a book with no preconceptions and am pleasantly enthralled by what lies within! I had no idea what sort of story would be, but right from the start, became swiftly engrossed in it. Clare Cassidy is an attractive middle-aged woman - working at a school as a teacher, with a teenage daughter called Georgia. The school happens to have an interesting history; it was the previous home of a writer - the author of The Stranger, a story that has a lot to do with the forthcoming events...People start being murdered, one by one. Clare is a suspect, as are several other people. The only peculiar thing is... who is leaving notes in Clare's diary, and are they responsible for the sinister goings-on? Right from the start, I felt that Elly Griffiths established herself as a very confident storyteller - the leap from 'Victorian gothic story' to modern day was very skilfully done; it threw me completely, but in a good way. I also liked the multiple perspectives; with the narrative continually shifting from Clare to Harbinder (the detective working the case), then on to Georgia, the daughter.It was quite slow-burning, but I felt that gave the author the golden opportunity to build on the atmosphere and growing sense of dread. The ending was perhaps a little less the glorious reveal-all that I'd hoped for; but it worked - it certainly didn't leave me throwing the book down and declaring that it didn't make sense (which is what usually happens when I read books like this!). Another thing that I think is worthy of note is the author's highly adept way of addressing people's preconceived notions about other people. For example, Clare believes her daughter to be a fairly typical teen; but when we experience Georgia's perspective, we realise she's anything but. We also see Clare through Harbinder's eyes - previously, she'd been quite a sympathetic character, but according to the detective, she was a stuck-up, manipulative, over-privileged woman. Clever!Overall, a beautifully written, skilful book, very good stuff indeed.
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  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    Elly Griffiths can do no wrong in my eyes and this fantastic stand alone Gothically atmospheric mystery is every bit as brilliant as I knew it would be. I loved everything about it (but especially Herbert the Dog). Perfect reading for these longer evenings. Review to follow shortly on For Winter Nights.
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  • Roman Clodia
    January 1, 1970
    I read this on the strength of Elly Griffiths' name as I love her Ruth Galloway series: this book is entertaining enough but doesn't show off Griffiths' strengths i.e. her ability to create quirky characters like Ruth, Harry, Cathbart etc., and there are only occasional gestures towards her trademark comedy/satire bon mots - in fact, the only time Clare raises interest is when she articulates something Ruth would say.The story itself is a modern Gothic-y serial killer with one of those dubious a I read this on the strength of Elly Griffiths' name as I love her Ruth Galloway series: this book is entertaining enough but doesn't show off Griffiths' strengths i.e. her ability to create quirky characters like Ruth, Harry, Cathbart etc., and there are only occasional gestures towards her trademark comedy/satire bon mots - in fact, the only time Clare raises interest is when she articulates something Ruth would say.The story itself is a modern Gothic-y serial killer with one of those dubious and unconvincing motives that fiction so loves. The whole thing could have been solved very quickly if only the police had used a bit of common sense over the diary ((view spoiler)[surely it's obvious that they just need to find who has access to Clare's diaries? With her daughter discounted, that only leaves one person - dun, dun, dun! (hide spoiler)]). That said, the female DS adds some energy to the book though I'm not sure I'd be up for more of her if Griffiths turns this into a series. Not everyone will be bothered by this but I was distracted by the implausibilities of the background: that Clare is a secondary school teacher but is somehow teaching an adult education class at half-term, and that she's teaching creative writing with no experience of creative writing herself, apart from a half-written biography of a Gothic writer for which she seems to do no research...The so called 'spookiness' is a red herring - and JK Rowling made a better plot out of the diary trope with Tom Riddle than is the case here. Even the invented short story of The Stranger just sort of fizzles out... This is enjoyable enough as a piece of throwaway Halloween entertainment, but Griffiths is a better writer than this.Thanks to Quercus for ARCs via NetGalley and Amazon Vine.
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  • 4cats
    January 1, 1970
    Ellie Griffiths is known for her Ruth Galloway crime series, so The Stranger Diaries is a change of direction for her. This standalone gothic, murder crime novel manages to unnerve, unsettle and keep you reading until the final outcome of the plot. Clare Cassidy is an English teacher working in a school that once was the home of a famous ghost story author. She herself is writing a biography about him when a close friend is murdered. Clare finds herself at the heart of this dark tale. A great co Ellie Griffiths is known for her Ruth Galloway crime series, so The Stranger Diaries is a change of direction for her. This standalone gothic, murder crime novel manages to unnerve, unsettle and keep you reading until the final outcome of the plot. Clare Cassidy is an English teacher working in a school that once was the home of a famous ghost story author. She herself is writing a biography about him when a close friend is murdered. Clare finds herself at the heart of this dark tale. A great combination of crime and classic gothic ghost story.
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    Book reviews on www.snazzybooks.com I am a big Elly Griffiths fan, and love her Ruth Galloway series, so I was intrigued to try a book with different characters in it. The Stranger Diaries definitely feels like a different read, but it was just as entertaining and absorbing as her other novels, and the characters - which Elly Griffiths is always so great at shaping - read like real people I could, on the whole, imagine actually existing.The plot is interesting and kept me intrigued; at some poin Book reviews on www.snazzybooks.com I am a big Elly Griffiths fan, and love her Ruth Galloway series, so I was intrigued to try a book with different characters in it. The Stranger Diaries definitely feels like a different read, but it was just as entertaining and absorbing as her other novels, and the characters - which Elly Griffiths is always so great at shaping - read like real people I could, on the whole, imagine actually existing.The plot is interesting and kept me intrigued; at some points it required some suspension of disbelief (definitely less believable than her Ruth Galloway series - sorry to keep comparing but, hey, I love those books) but it is a fun and engaging story, and has some enjoyable twists and turns. I have to say that Harbinder, the DS, shone in this novel - she's very confident, knows her own mind and rubs people up the wrong way, but she's a unique and interesting character who added something fresh to the story. I did like Clare but felt at times she was a little annoying/ snobby - I really couldn't identify with some of her opinions - however Georgie, though a predictably stuck up/ whiny teenager some of the time, seemed likeable and overall a sweet girl. This is a well-written story and a good start to a new series, if that is what it will become (I'd read more of DS Kaur for sure) but it doesn't quite measure up to the brilliance of Elly Griffith's Ruth Galloway series. Well worth a read, though.
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  • Evie Braithwaite
    January 1, 1970
    Part murder mystery, part Victorian ghost story, The Stranger Diaries makes for the perfect autumnal read.Clare Cassidy is no stranger to tales of murder. As a literature teacher specialising in the Gothic writer R.M. Holland, she teaches a short course on them every year. Then Clare's life and work collide tragically when one of her colleagues is found dead, a line from an R.M. Holland story by her body. The investigating police detective is convinced the writer's works somehow hold the key to Part murder mystery, part Victorian ghost story, The Stranger Diaries makes for the perfect autumnal read.Clare Cassidy is no stranger to tales of murder. As a literature teacher specialising in the Gothic writer R.M. Holland, she teaches a short course on them every year. Then Clare's life and work collide tragically when one of her colleagues is found dead, a line from an R.M. Holland story by her body. The investigating police detective is convinced the writer's works somehow hold the key to the case.Clare keeps a diary and has done ever since high school. Diaries are a source of escape, a place to offload our innermost thoughts and off-limits to everyone but ourselves. However, she is left unsettled when she discovers someone else’s writing beneath her recent entry. She is forced to hand them over to the police, who find them revealing of Clare’s personal life. Gothic horrors have become an instant must-read for me, and after reading the premise I couldn’t wait to see where this story would take me. I found it to be a slow-burning novel, but one in which Griffiths meticulously builds an atmosphere for the old school whodnnit, perfect for those dark autumnal nights. One thing I do wish there was more of; supernatural elements. It was only the menacing echoes of The Stranger found within the murders of the present which brought these spookier elements to life. The ending also fell flat for me, the reveal somewhat underwhelming, especially after the growing sense of dread built up by the author. “I could hear my breathing, jagged and stertorous. It was my only companion as I inched towards the staircase.”This book offers us three alternating female perspectives; Clare, DS Harbinder Kaur and Clare’s daughter, Georgia. Throughout the interweaving P.O.Vs, beneath the surface interestingly lies an exploration of how we often have preconceived notions of others. For instance, we initially perceiving Clare as an innocent, likeable character. Harbinder on the other hand sees her as nothing but a stuck-up, over-privileged woman. The same goes for Clare’s perception of her daughter who chides her for behaving like the typical teenager, but through Georgia’s narration, we learn that she’s anything but. Looks can be deceiving, and this is fitting for the spooky murder mystery.One other thing I enjoyed was the abundance of British allusions which is sure to entertain any fellow Brit: “E often used to come here and they’d drink wine and watch Strictly (the opium of the middle-aged.”Overall, despite the underwhelming ending, this Gothic murder mystery makes for the perfect autumnal read and ideal for anyone who loves an old school whodunit.Thanks to NetGalley and Quercus Books for providing me with an eARC to read this in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Joelle Egan
    January 1, 1970
    A teacher of creative writing at a British middle school begins experiencing disturbing events that mirror those from a short story in Elly Griffiths’ The Stranger Diaries. Clare is a respected and well-established instructor and researcher at Talgarth, hired during a restructuring effort after the school had experienced a downturn. She lives with her teenage daughter, Georgie, and her beloved dog Herbert. The novel opens as Clare is teaching her adult ed course, using as an example a ghost stor A teacher of creative writing at a British middle school begins experiencing disturbing events that mirror those from a short story in Elly Griffiths’ The Stranger Diaries. Clare is a respected and well-established instructor and researcher at Talgarth, hired during a restructuring effort after the school had experienced a downturn. She lives with her teenage daughter, Georgie, and her beloved dog Herbert. The novel opens as Clare is teaching her adult ed course, using as an example a ghost story that was written by the man whose house they are using for their class. She is interrupted by her department head with the news that Clare’s close friend and colleague has been found murdered on the grounds. Griffiths interposes sections from the short story within her narrative, along with alternating points-of-view between three women: Clare, Georgie, and Harbinder, the lead detective assigned to investigate the homicide. When more murders occur, it becomes increasingly apparent that Clare is at the center of the mystery. Someone close to her must be responsible, leaving her messages and quotes in her personal diary- or could it be Clare herself committing the crimes? The book contains many unexpected twists and turns, some of which are a bit contrived. There are also some plot elements that are also somewhat far-fetched and very convenient in retrospect. Some of Griffiths’ references and allusions may not be familiar to audiences outside of Great Britain, but nothing pivotal is lost in terms of the story. The Stranger Diaries provides a decent mystery, and the character of Harbinder is especially well-drawn and provides a unique perspective. If this standalone novel were to be developed into a series, her character would be one that would be interesting to follow.Thanks to Edelweiss and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for an Early Review copy of this book.
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    Review to follow for blog tour, but a fabulous read. Go and buy when its published on 1st Nov ... and thank me later! :)
  • Tripfiction
    January 1, 1970
    Modern Gothic Thriller set in W SussexThis is the first novel I have read by Elly Griffiths (this is remiss and I will address that as soon as possible!). She is a prolific and very popular writer and is to date best known for her Dr Ruth Galloway mysteries and the Stephens and Mephisto novels. The author herself describes this stand-alone novel as modern Gothic.Talgarth High is partly housed in the building that once belonged to author R M Holland. There is a lot of mystery both in his book, Th Modern Gothic Thriller set in W SussexThis is the first novel I have read by Elly Griffiths (this is remiss and I will address that as soon as possible!). She is a prolific and very popular writer and is to date best known for her Dr Ruth Galloway mysteries and the Stephens and Mephisto novels. The author herself describes this stand-alone novel as modern Gothic.Talgarth High is partly housed in the building that once belonged to author R M Holland. There is a lot of mystery both in his book, The Stranger, an anthology of ghost stories, and also in his life as a whole. A woman is known to have fallen down the stairs, and she will occasionally appear to people when there are untoward happenings. The links between his storyline and events in the present cannot be overlooked and soon his original text is being studied with great diligence.It’s October half term at the school. Halloween is approaching and one of the team in the English department is found dead. Murdered. Gratuitously stabbed, with potential stigmata on her hands. Ella Elphick was a much loved member of the team. There is a note by her body with a quote from The Tempest, …Hell is empty....(which continues with … and all the devils are here….). So, the murderer is certainly au fait with english literature! (The author explained that she has always loved the work of Wilkie Collins and the message at the heart of The Woman in White’s Greetings from a sincere admirer… certainly inspired the storyline!)Claire, one of her closest friends and likewise a teacher in the English department, keeps a diary and as she looks back to refresh her memory of certain events, she discovers a note at the bottom of one entry: Hallo Claire, you don’t know me… which leaves a frisson for her to digest. The mystery of this killing seems inextricably linked with her diary entries and when another murder occurs, the police team headed by DS Harbinder Kaur has to ramp up its investigations as it seems the English Department at the school is being targeted.Harbinder talks to camera, as it were, to the reader, as does Georgie, Claire’s daughter. The thought processes of both belie the outer personas presented to those around. Harbinder in particular is a sassy character, perhaps just a little stereotyped.As the autumn winds and colours prevail, the spooky backdrop increases. Talk of the ghost of a white-clad female ghost and an English teacher who considers herself to be a white witch all add to the atmospheric aura. Rustling in the bushes, flickering lights in the disused and derelict factory behind Claire’s house cause alarm to Claire and Georgie living so close by. What is real, what is imagined?The author is wonderful at sharing her knowledge of writers and texts in her writing, making it feel like an erudite approach to crime writing. It starts so well and is indeed gripping. Very readable. Recommended.
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  • Julie Lacey
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed this book and loved the mix of Elly Griffiths’ narrative along with that of R M Holland’s story. This book is best described as a gothic thriller but as a crime thriller fan there was plenty to keep me interested. The story starts with a murder and Clare is shocked to find it was her best friend. She’s left reeling by the news and then discovers someone has been leaving ‘messages’ in her diary. I must admit that I did guess who the killer was but enjoyed reading to the end to se I really enjoyed this book and loved the mix of Elly Griffiths’ narrative along with that of R M Holland’s story. This book is best described as a gothic thriller but as a crime thriller fan there was plenty to keep me interested. The story starts with a murder and Clare is shocked to find it was her best friend. She’s left reeling by the news and then discovers someone has been leaving ‘messages’ in her diary. I must admit that I did guess who the killer was but enjoyed reading to the end to see if I’d guessed correctly!When another body is found Clare works closely with the Police as both victims were close to her. I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book and I highly recommend it. Thanks to Quercus books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book.
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  • Subashini
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars.A slow-burn standalone mystery by Griffiths with the right amount of atmosphere for Halloween. It features an English teacher, Clare, dealing with the deaths of teachers in her school with plenty of references to a fictional writer of Gothic ghost stories, as well as witchcraft, school ghosts, Wilkie Collins, and Shakespeare. All of which are stuff that I just can't resist. The character of pragmatic cop DS Harbinder is wonderfully realised; she has no patience for literary imagination 3.5 stars.A slow-burn standalone mystery by Griffiths with the right amount of atmosphere for Halloween. It features an English teacher, Clare, dealing with the deaths of teachers in her school with plenty of references to a fictional writer of Gothic ghost stories, as well as witchcraft, school ghosts, Wilkie Collins, and Shakespeare. All of which are stuff that I just can't resist. The character of pragmatic cop DS Harbinder is wonderfully realised; she has no patience for literary imagination: "It can be a dangerous thing, reading too much." In the hands of another writer she might have been a humourless bore, but in Griffiths' hands she is smart and unique and memorable. If this is a start of another series for Griffiths, I'd love to meet Harbinder again.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    This is exactly the sort of book I want to hunker down with as the nights get darker and the shadows longer; it's fast paced, spooky, there are plenty of red herrings and multiple narratives to add depth to the overarching story line. Clare is the English Literature teacher with a passion for the author R.M. Holland, and his seminal story 'The Stranger' starts to take on new meaning when her friends and colleagues are found murdered with a key line from the story. Is she the next victim, or is s This is exactly the sort of book I want to hunker down with as the nights get darker and the shadows longer; it's fast paced, spooky, there are plenty of red herrings and multiple narratives to add depth to the overarching story line. Clare is the English Literature teacher with a passion for the author R.M. Holland, and his seminal story 'The Stranger' starts to take on new meaning when her friends and colleagues are found murdered with a key line from the story. Is she the next victim, or is she the killer? Georgie her daughter certainly knows more than she is letting on and has a secret life that her mother knows nothing about. Does she have something more to hide? D.S. Harbinder is the detective brought in to solve the case, and her insights are brilliant at showing a different side to the narrative of both Clare and Georgie. Nestled between the pages are things that go bump in the night, work politics, teenage secrets, unrequited love and a genuinely creepy setting. It's a fun read and one that I really enjoyed as Halloween approaches. My thanks go to the publishers and net galley for the advanced copy in return for an honest review.
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  • Thebooktrail
    January 1, 1970
    This is about gothic secrets, a writer with a room in a modern day college which has not been changed, an expert on a book in Cambridge and secrets of killings which may be inspired by a gothic book....Set in Sussex and Cambridge...Visit the locations in The Stranger Diaries
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  • Ophelia Sings
    January 1, 1970
    'Just like in the books, when Poirot suddenly "knows" who the murderer is, but won't tell anyone because there are a hundred pages still to go.' So states a character less than half way through The Stranger Diaries. The irony being that the reader has already worked out who the murderer is, and there's over half the book to go. The blurb promises that Elly Griffiths' new novel will be a darkly gothic affair, but instead we're served up a reasonably chilling but fairly standard killer thriller wi 'Just like in the books, when Poirot suddenly "knows" who the murderer is, but won't tell anyone because there are a hundred pages still to go.' So states a character less than half way through The Stranger Diaries. The irony being that the reader has already worked out who the murderer is, and there's over half the book to go. The blurb promises that Elly Griffiths' new novel will be a darkly gothic affair, but instead we're served up a reasonably chilling but fairly standard killer thriller with the occasional side order of creepy. The majority of the spookiness comes courtesy of RM Holland, the MR James-esque Gothic writer whom our heroine Claire is researching for a biography - the passages attributed to him are wonderfully spine-tingling. English teacher by day, the school Claire works at just happens to be the Holland's former home, replete with resident ghost. There's some teenage dabbling with dried herbs and incantations too, and a benevolent white witch. But at heart, the spookiness in The Stranger Diaries is just Hallowe'en party window dressing, albeit fun, and the tale itself is a pretty straightforward whodunnit.As for who did do it, simple logic means that even the least astute reader will have worked it out by a few pages in. It's a shame really, because the denouement lacks punch and the book sort of slouches to its end. That's not to say it isn't enjoyable, however. DS Harbinder Kaur and her wonderful family are a highlight and I'd love to meet her again in another tale. Clare, and all her associates, are verging on middle class caricature; there's a child called Ocean and everyone has lovely kitchens and cashmere sweaters and skiing holidays. It's unimaginable that anything bad could happen in their Jo Malone scented lives, and yet. The Stranger Diaries is entertaining enough and genuinely fraught in places, but the reader is left feeling a little deflated - particularly if what had piqued the interest in the first place was the promise of dark Gothic doings and mystery. A reasonably diverting read, it doesn't really offer anything new. A book by RM Holland featuring DS Kaur, however, would be a delicious prospect.My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Cortni
    January 1, 1970
    Time after time, I gladly follow the twists and turns of detective fiction to see where the author can take me. Bring on the reddest of your herrings and most improbable character developments! So, I was disappointed when one single sentence in The Stranger Diaries glared at me as the answer to "whodunnit," with many, many chapters to go. And then to find out that I was right was even more disappointing. The book is beautifully dark and atmospheric, but as someone who is repeatedly (and willfull Time after time, I gladly follow the twists and turns of detective fiction to see where the author can take me. Bring on the reddest of your herrings and most improbable character developments! So, I was disappointed when one single sentence in The Stranger Diaries glared at me as the answer to "whodunnit," with many, many chapters to go. And then to find out that I was right was even more disappointing. The book is beautifully dark and atmospheric, but as someone who is repeatedly (and willfully) duped, I was disappointed in the predictability of this one. HOWEVER, I really enjoyed the DS Kaur character and would still take on her next case if there is a sequel!Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Nicole
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a digital ARC of this book.This was fantastic. Just fantastic. A caveat before I begin. I enjoy the Ruth Galloway series by this author very much. I am drawn to academic novels, especially mysteries with great atmosphere, and the Galloway series is a lot of fun. Plus, like Ruth, I am an academic in her 40s and a first time mom. (Dr. Ruth Galloway is a forensic archaeologist, though, while I'm a literature professor, a 19th-century British Gothicist.) So Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a digital ARC of this book.This was fantastic. Just fantastic. A caveat before I begin. I enjoy the Ruth Galloway series by this author very much. I am drawn to academic novels, especially mysteries with great atmosphere, and the Galloway series is a lot of fun. Plus, like Ruth, I am an academic in her 40s and a first time mom. (Dr. Ruth Galloway is a forensic archaeologist, though, while I'm a literature professor, a 19th-century British Gothicist.) So when I heard about this new book--a mystery that centers on a Victorian Gothicist--I was both excited and concerned.I was excited for obvious reasons. The genre could barely have been more to my liking. However, I have read more than one book (or series) before that has claimed to be based around some sort of academic, a literature professor who, all too often, is also a Gothicist. And very often these books are a terrible let down. The authors often have no idea what Gothic Studies actually is and seem to have simply googled for texts under the tag "gothic" as the full extent of their character and narrative research. So I was a little worried. What if Griffiths--whom I really like--had done the same thing? What if I start reading this and find yet another superficial treatment of the Gothic where the writer doesn't seem to know the difference between American and British Gothic? Or who confuses Frankenstein and his monster? Well, I had to know.And . . . Griffiths (Domenica de Rosa) is the real deal. According to her bio (sorry Ms de Rosa!), she holds a Masters in 19th-century literature. This novel is a great representation of her background. She seems to have based her storyline on a combination of M R James with a very healthy dose of Wilkie Collins (and a dash of Agatha Christie). And Griffiths also realizes that Sensation fiction is a sub-genre of the Gothic, which was perfect timing for me. I was prepping my fall class on Sensation fiction--which begins with The Woman in White, of course--while reading this novel, which largely centers around and mimics The Woman in White.The tale, like Collins' Sensation classic, moves through multiple narrators as they try to uncover the clues to a crime. There is a story that's told intermittently (a good one!) that also accompanies the action and influences the storyline. The text is often atmospheric--we move from a southern landscape often obscured by sea frets via an overnight train to end up in Scotland surrounded by the sea. I liked everything about this. I don't know what Griffiths plans to do next, but I was frankly never of the opinion that her Ruth Galloway series was a "cozy" genre. I find many books, like this series, slid into the category that I feel are much more literary. So I can't say that this is an abrupt departure from what she's done before. But I do think this more complicated plotting with its stand-alone characters demonstrates her ability to build character, create atmosphere, and sustain suspense. This is one of the best books I've read in a long time. I highly recommend this one and hope you can read it on a dark and stormy night!
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  • George1st
    January 1, 1970
    At the end of the book you can finally read the full version of the “The Stranger” a Gothic short story written by the fictitious Victorian author R M Holland which resonates of the writings of such authors as M R James and E F Benson. It really is a gripping and terrifying little read that deserves praise in its own right. But it is how this short story and the life of R M Holland are linked with two murders committed in modern day Sussex that forms the basis of this entertaining crime novel. W At the end of the book you can finally read the full version of the “The Stranger” a Gothic short story written by the fictitious Victorian author R M Holland which resonates of the writings of such authors as M R James and E F Benson. It really is a gripping and terrifying little read that deserves praise in its own right. But it is how this short story and the life of R M Holland are linked with two murders committed in modern day Sussex that forms the basis of this entertaining crime novel. When an English teacher is found brutally murdered at her home, a line from the R.M. Holland story is found by her body. It also transpires that the school Talgarth High where she worked was originally R M Holland’s home and is reputedly haunted by the phantom ghost of his wife who committed suicide. Not long after, another teacher is murdered and the methods used in both crimes have uncanny similarities with those inflicted on victims in “The Stranger”. This is a tangled web to be unraveled and the narration is shared by Clare another English teacher at Talgarth High who is presently researching the life of R M Holland and writes a diary which forms an integral part of the plot, her daughter Claire who also attends the same school and the wonderfully acerbic DS Harbinder Kaur who is investigating the murders. There is a surprising amount of humour to be found here between some genuinely scary moments Also inserted between these narratives are extracts from“The Stranger”.It is about three quarters way through the book when DS Kaur writes down a list of possible suspects, I did this mentally and like her was unable to come up with a definitive culprit. Be warned there are a lot of red herrings and false leads here for the reader to navigate through and I must admit then when the murderer is finally revealed it was not who I expected it to be. Elly Griffiths is probably best known for the creation of forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway but I certainly would like to see further adventures involving DS Kaur. A really enjoyable read and for me anyway I thought the fusion of Gothic melodrama and police procedural crime worked quite well.
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  • Janet
    January 1, 1970
    I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher --- Clare Cassidy is no stranger to murder. A high school English teacher specializing in the Gothic writer R. M. Holland, she teaches a course on it every year. But when one of Clare’s colleagues and closest friends is found dead, with a line from R. M. Holland’s most famous story, “The Stranger,” left by her body, Clare is horrified to see her life collide with the storyli I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher --- Clare Cassidy is no stranger to murder. A high school English teacher specializing in the Gothic writer R. M. Holland, she teaches a course on it every year. But when one of Clare’s colleagues and closest friends is found dead, with a line from R. M. Holland’s most famous story, “The Stranger,” left by her body, Clare is horrified to see her life collide with the storylines of her favourite literature. To make matters worse, the police suspect the killer is someone Clare knows. Unsure whom to trust, she turns to her closest confidant, her diary, the only outlet she has for her darkest suspicions and fears about the case. Then one day she notices something odd. Writing that isn't hers, left on the page of an old diary: "Hallo, Clare. You don’t know me." Clare becomes more certain than ever: “The Stranger” has come to terrifying life. But can the ending be rewritten in time?This is a seriously dark and spooky book that I had to put down a few pages into it lest I not be able to sleep that night. It is well crafted and at no point at you in danger of losing your desire to finish the chapter (or the book)!. Once it was daylight, I dove in and read it in one fell swoop: FABULOUS BOOK WORTH 5 STARS!!
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  • Jo Cameron-Symes
    January 1, 1970
    I'm a huge fan of Elly Griffith's writing and have enjoyed everything she's written so far, especially the Ruth Galloway series, so was excited to read this book, a standalone Gothic thriller. I loved how the narrative of The Stranger Diaries was interwoven with 'The Stranger' tale, an old ghost story by a figure who reminded me of M R James. This was such a creative touch and showed Griffith's virtuosity as she wrote in such a different style that perfectly captured the spirit of these old ghos I'm a huge fan of Elly Griffith's writing and have enjoyed everything she's written so far, especially the Ruth Galloway series, so was excited to read this book, a standalone Gothic thriller. I loved how the narrative of The Stranger Diaries was interwoven with 'The Stranger' tale, an old ghost story by a figure who reminded me of M R James. This was such a creative touch and showed Griffith's virtuosity as she wrote in such a different style that perfectly captured the spirit of these old ghost stories, it was like reading an original one! As usual, the characterisation was excellent with fully rounded characters brought to life and I loved how you experienced different pints of view from characters such as Harbinder as this made you question your original impression of some of the characters like Clare.Settings are again a strong motif throughout Griffith's crime novels that were well evoked. You could imagine the study and the reported ghosts that had been seen there as well as the abandoned factory near Claire's house. Also, the settings of the colleges too were realistically portrayed, with you actually feeling like they had almost come to life, so good were the descriptions. I didn't see the twist either, I was surprised at who the murderer was! This is definitely a plucking when reading a mystery. As a budding writer, I feel that there is much to learn from Griffith's writing and even if you're not a writer, this is a great read to curl up with on those chilly Autumn and Winter nights.
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  • Patricia Uttaro
    January 1, 1970
    In The Stranger Diaries, Elly Griffiths moves beyond her series characters and delivers a clever, well-plotted, and gripping murder mystery with a hint of ghost story. This is truly Griffiths at her best, with well-developed and engaging characters, some of whom beg to become part of a new series (I’m looking at you, Harbinder Kaur!)In truth, I’ve found the last couple Ruth Galloway books stale and prosaic, with the focus shifted from Ruth’s work as a forensic anthropologist and Nelson’s work as In The Stranger Diaries, Elly Griffiths moves beyond her series characters and delivers a clever, well-plotted, and gripping murder mystery with a hint of ghost story. This is truly Griffiths at her best, with well-developed and engaging characters, some of whom beg to become part of a new series (I’m looking at you, Harbinder Kaur!)In truth, I’ve found the last couple Ruth Galloway books stale and prosaic, with the focus shifted from Ruth’s work as a forensic anthropologist and Nelson’s work as a detective taking a backseat to what has become a boring love triangle. In The Stranger Diaries, Griffiths appears to be flexing her writing muscles and experimenting with different forms. The juxtaposition of the present day action with the story of The Stranger is smooth and flowed in a way that the stories complemented each other. Not many authors take a chance on writing new characters when they have an established series, so I admire Griffiths for taking a break from beloved characters and trying new ones on for size. She has successfully delivered a stand-alone story that had me reading deep into the night just to discover the killer’s identity. I haven’t been so engrossed in a Griffith’s book since I ran out on to the salt marsh with Ruth as she raced away from Erik in The Crossing Places. Well done!
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  • Latkins
    January 1, 1970
    I love Elly Griffiths’s Ruth Galloway series, and I thoroughly enjoyed this standalone thriller from her. Set in a small town on the south coast, it follows three different characters as a series of murders occurs. Clare is an English teacher at the local comprehensive, Talgarth High, specialising in the work of Victorian ghost story writer R.M. Holland (a bit like R.M. James), who once lived in the building which is now the school. She plans on writing a book about Holland, whose wife died and I love Elly Griffiths’s Ruth Galloway series, and I thoroughly enjoyed this standalone thriller from her. Set in a small town on the south coast, it follows three different characters as a series of murders occurs. Clare is an English teacher at the local comprehensive, Talgarth High, specialising in the work of Victorian ghost story writer R.M. Holland (a bit like R.M. James), who once lived in the building which is now the school. She plans on writing a book about Holland, whose wife died and is rumoured to haunt the school. Then Clare’s colleague and friend in the English department, Ella, is brutally murdered, and a quote from Shakespeare which also appears in R.M. Holland’s classic story The Stranger is found at the scene of the crime: ‘Hell is empty’. Things get even more sinister when Clare discovers that someone has been writing in her own diary – is it the killer? The story is told first from Clare’s point of view, then from Harbinder’s, the local police detective investigating the murder, who is also an old girl of Talgarth High, and then from Clare’s teenage daughter Georgia’s point of view, and there are also extracts from The Stranger throughout. Although it has a distinct Gothic edge, at heart this is an intriguing murder mystery with many a twist, and it kept me gripped. Just don’t read it alone at night!
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  • gem
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsI loved the concept of this story; that someone was offing victims in a similar manner to those who died in a Victorian story.The alternate narrations gives greater insight into the thoughts of Clare (the English teacher in the school where the Victorian author lived, and she is writing a book about him), her daughter Georgie (Secret writer, secretly learning to be a white witch) and Harbinder (detective sergeant, tenacious and funny in her bluntness). The modern tale plays out alongsid 3.5 starsI loved the concept of this story; that someone was offing victims in a similar manner to those who died in a Victorian story.The alternate narrations gives greater insight into the thoughts of Clare (the English teacher in the school where the Victorian author lived, and she is writing a book about him), her daughter Georgie (Secret writer, secretly learning to be a white witch) and Harbinder (detective sergeant, tenacious and funny in her bluntness). The modern tale plays out alongside extracts of the gothic story, and it’s made creepier by the fact that there is a ghost story attached to the school and old abandoned buildings which always seems to exude a malevolent force.There were plenty of red herrings but logically I could only think of one person who had the opportunity based upon several things that happened (although I was unsure of motive) and that was in fact the perpetrator. I enjoyed this suspenseful tale and would definitely read more by this author.Thank you to Netgalley for the chance to read this book.
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