Cover Image: The Animals at Lockwood Manor

The Animals at Lockwood Manor

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Member Reviews

The Animals at Lockwood Manor is a slow burn resulting in a lesbian affair. I was frustrated by the pacing, but I'm more of a thriller reader so the buildup was killing me. Still, who wouldn't keep going with the promise of a WW2 love story?
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The Animals at Lockwood Manor is an atmospheric book that takes place at the onset of WWII. Hetty has been passed over for promotions at the London museum for which she works, but with her male colleagues enlisting she is named director, and takes the museum's animal collection to a house in the English countryside for protection from German bombs. Unfortunately Lockwood Manor is uninviting - the servants talk of ghosts, weird things keep happening to the collection, and someone seems to be tormenting Hetty. I wanted to love this book - it is moody and I loved the premise. But it fell a little short for me - I loved the relationship between Hetty and Lucy, the daughter of the manor's owner. There are strong themes of gaslighting and the "crazy woman in the attic" in this book, but I wanted them to be finessed a little more - Major Lockwood and his cruel housekeeper seemed a little cartoonish at times. I think I wanted more of a Sarah Waters or Kate Morton story that I could fall into, and I didn't quite get that with this one. That being said, I'd recommend it to lovers of historical fiction intrigued by the blurb.
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The premise seemed promising, but eventually it was all quite cliche. The pressure cooker of life in a big house with stereotypical and dislikable characters. Unfortunately, the limitation of setting and those characters made for a claustrophobic read, which never developed. Too slow moving for me - the last 10th of the book was much better and full of action that should have been spread around the book a little more. Sent an ARC through NetGalley.
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Beautiful, evocative book. A great read with compelling characters. I love the romance between the two main female characters, it is quite refreshing to read about such a relationship in gothic fiction. Will definitely recommend.
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I seem to be reading a lot of gothic mysteries lately...the genre is definitely making a comeback!

Here we have all the elements needed for a first-class, spooky gothic thriller - intrepid heroine who is made of sterner stuff than is believed by those around her; a creepy country house; a tragic inhabitant; a prickly, horrible mystery; and a horrifying climax followed by a new beginning. 

There is, however, a refreshing difference here. In the old 1970s gothics, the tragic inhabitant of the creepy country house was invariably a man. Here, it's Lucy. The beautiful, delicate, sleep-deprived daughter of the master of the house. The story spun around Lucy and Hetty is delicate and charming, a piece of lace on the grimy, icky cloth of the horrible mystery, and one that gets ripped off, preserved, and sewn into something beautiful. 

The story is captivating and creepy, the writing skillful and eloquent. Fans of Sarah Waters will especially enjoy this. Well done.
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I really wanted to like this book but I couldn’t. Interesting premise for a book but I just couldn’t.
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This is an excellent gothic suspense tale. I particularly liked the way the author stayed within the social strictures that limited women during the period in which the story is set while still still allowing the female protagonist to fight for her goals.
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The Animals at Lockwood Manor was a hugely entertaining historical novel, set during World War 2. I was particularly attracted to the unusual premise; a young woman is tasked with looking after a collection of stuffed specimens when they are transported from The Natural History Museum to Lockwood Manor, during the war. Lockwood Manor is a richly atmospheric country house, whose owner, Lord Lockwood, is hiding a dark past. His daughter, Lucy, is trapped in a life of subjugation and privilege - until Hetty arrives with her bizarre collection of dead animals. I thoroughly enjoyed learning a bit about the Natural History collection, and also how country life carried on during the war. The characters were well-rounded and the plot, although unusual, was believable.
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Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for my pre-publication e-book of this title. I have rated it 3 stars! 

When I saw the summary, I had to read this book! Big old house, potential ghosts, taxidermy, wartime setting, mystery, gothic... it sounded right up my street. Unfortunately, I ended up being rather disappointed by this title. 

While the author was successful in creating an eerie setting - I could vividly picture the house, the hundreds of horrid glass eyes watching you from the faces of long dead animals - the plot moved incredibly slowly. I felt that I was being teased every couple of chapters with another small nugget of information or some spooky occurrence but then nothing would happen again for ages and I'd be wondering why I was still reading. 

The mystery wasn't really a mystery at all, as I had already guessed the culprit near to the beginning. I also felt that a lot of the elements of the story had been borrowed from other gothic works, such as The Woman in Black and Jane Eyre, which is fine as obviously works within the same genre are going to share themes and tropes but not enough had been done to make the story unique and exciting. 

I liked the relationship between Hetty and Lucy but wasn't too keen on how the narrative alternates between each woman's point of view chapter by chapter. I felt like the result was that I wasn't really invested in either character.

I did finish this book but sadly found it quite boring. I gave it three stars because the writing is good despite the dull plot!
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Reading Jane Healey’s The Animals at Lockwood Manor was not a comfortable experience. At first, I felt annoyance and frustration on behalf of Hetty Cartwright. Hetty is one of the lone women employed by an unnamed London natural history museum at the outset of World War II. As such, she faces a lot of snide comments about being a spinster in a man’s job. She keeps her head down and does her job as a preservationist for the Victorian-era taxidermied specimens as best she can, but she is the kind of person who is dogged by bad luck. When Hetty is assigned to accompany the museum’s collection to a country manor—to avoid anticipated German bombing of the city—it is a chance to prove her worth once and for all. Except for the fact that Hetty’s luck lands her right in the middle of a house full of chilling secrets, a place that makes her wonder if she wouldn’t have been safer with the bombs.

Hetty should have known that Lockwood Manor was not the best place for the museum’s collection right from the beginning. In the process of getting the animals unpacked and resettled, a very expensive stuffed jaguar goes missing. The lord of the manor, Major Lockwood, is curiously blasé about the disappearance. In fact, he chides Hetty for getting worked up about it. Readers and people who’ve had the misfortune to meet people like Major Lockwood will instantly spot the signs of a gas-lighter. Major Lockwood had my hackles up right away. If he wasn’t bad enough, his daughter, Lucy, brings out Hetty’s protective instincts—so much so that Hetty ignores everything the Major says about her delicate nature to befriend her and give her jobs to do to help take Lucy’s mind off of her night terrors and anxiety.

The Animals at Lockwood Manor‘s plot ratchets up the tension by moving the taxidermied animals around the house. Nothing stays where Hetty puts it. Things go missing entirely. The housekeeper is inexplicably hostile. Major Lockwood is proprietary about his things and very dismissive of Hetty’s concerns. As it must, the plot builds up to an explosive reckoning. Unlike other creepy country house novels, this one features a touching romantic plotline as Hetty and Lucy realize their attraction for each other.

I debated whether or not to put details into my trigger warning for this book. I didn’t want to give away significant details about the characters’ secrets. In the end, I put some details because I’ve learned of the necessity of giving reader’s a heads-up about content that has the potential to distress people. While the events that merited a trigger warning are heinous, I wouldn’t say that this book is too frightening or upsetting to read. The Animals at Lockwood Manor is fairly original for a country manor mystery novel, with a wonderful main character in Hetty. I completely identified with her preservationist instincts because, as a librarian, I have a strong respect for conserving important objects for the future. I also have a similar distain for people who try to treat artifacts like props. I also enjoyed seeing two characters who believed that they might live loveless lives find each other; this trope always makes me happy. Also, like a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down, the ending of The Animals at Lockwood Manor makes up for a lot of bitter doses earlier in the novel.
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I love gothic fiction, and I especially love spooky manor type stories. I got very excited by the blurb here and chose to overlook things I usually don't like; historical bounce-backs, WWII era drama, and Kate Morton comparisons. Unfortunately wasn't for me.
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So this is the final nail in the gothic fiction coffin for me. I absolutely did not like or remotely enjoy this book. There were so many unnecessary diatribes on Hetty's work and obsession with her work that I started skimming and skipping pages. I would have appreciated Lucy's point of view more if it wasn't a few short pages italicized as if we were reading from her diary. An even contribution of their perspectives would have greatly increased my enjoyment of this book. While I didn't figure out what was really going on before it was revealed, there wasn't even a sense of fulfillment over getting to the reveal since it was only irritating behavior that needed explained. Why should the reader care that someone is moving the animals around the manor? Or that Lucy is having nightmares? Or that the house staff whispers about ghosts? None of this is extraordinary behavior, they sound like juvenile pranks. I could go on and on, but I'll stop now. Suffice to say, I'm giving this two stars. The plot is one star, but the book was at least well written so I'm giving it two.
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Hetty Cartwright is given the assignment of her dreams, probably because the men are at war, but she doesn’t care. She is to accompany and protect the stuffed mammal collection of a large museum which is being moved to a country estate to escape the bombing of London. Once there she realizes her job is no easy task.  She must contend with the horrible owner, his disregard for her and the collection, the unfriendly staff, the animals mysteriously disappearing and being moved, and footsteps unexplained in the night. Meeting the owners daughter Lucy changes everything. They forge a special friendship, and Hetty tries to help Lucy with her lifelong nerves and nightmares. 
This is a wonderful book. Gothic tale, mystery story, romance, it’s got everything and beautifully written.
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It’s 1939 and London is being bombed night and day by the Nazis. The British government has already begun to hide precious pieces of art work to keep it safe from damage and looting, and now a natural history museum is being relocated, with it’s exhibits both alive and long dead. Hetty Cartwright is put in charge of watching over this curious collection, which will reside at Lockwood Manor. Here Hetty meets Lucy, a woman who has spent almost all over her life hidden away at the manor because of her “nerves”. Fighting both the controlling Major Lockwood and the German Air Force, Hetty and Lucy try to care for a collection that seems able to move around on its own, and even to disappear. This novel defies any common description, it’s a Gothic, a war story, a story of friendship and so much more. Whatever you want to call it, it’s imaginative, thrilling and impossible to put down
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