Cover Image: Lost in Darkness

Lost in Darkness

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Member Reviews

Beautifully written and fascinating, Michelle Griep’s Lost in Darkness tells the tale of what could have been the inspiration for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. 

Travel writer Amelia Balfour reluctantly agrees to return to her childhood home after her father’s passing to support her younger brother as he considers undergoing life-changing surgery. Colin has acromegaly- a growth condition complicated by a severe facial burn he suffered as a child. He hides himself away because as a gentle, loving, giant of a man, scaring people is something he wishes to avoid at all costs. Promising restoration to society, a respected surgeon pushes for Colin and Amelia to honor their father’s wish that Colin undergo a radical procedure.

Former naval surgeon Graham Lambert feels a rush of success when he convinces well-respected Mr. Peckwood to accept him as a partner in his surgical practice. But just what does the doctor think he can do to magically cure Colin Balfour? As Graham grows increasingly alarmed by Peckwood’s methods, he does all that he can to support Colin, who is quickly becoming a friend, and Amelia, who has started to capture his heart. 

I loved Colin’s character and I enjoyed watching the romance develop between Amelia and Graham. All the happy things were definitely my favorite parts, including the interactions between Colin and Nemo. Mr. Peckwood unsettled me. He was manipulative and simply awful. It made me so grateful for all the laws today that protect people from such treatment! I was intrigued by all the medical information in the novel and learned a lot. Definitely with a gothic feel, it felt like the perfect novel to read on a rainy evening under a blanket. The story was well-written and enthralling, although not the book to read if you’re looking for something light with a happy ending. 

I received a complementary copy of this novel from the publisher and Netgalley. My opinions are my own.
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From the moment I saw the name “Mary Shelly” in the description, I knew I had to read Lost in Darkness.

When I first read Frankenstein back in high school, I knew that the poor monster had to be more than just an evil combination of some mad man desperate for solutions. Michelle Griep gave me the satisfaction of seeing what that might have looked like.

The poor Belfour family had endured more than enough, but then they are subject to the abuse of the true monster. I couldn’t help but wonder what Amilia and Colin’s father might have known that the mad doctor wasn’t as genius as he let on. Since it is fiction, I guess we will never know.

One character had a front row seat to the madness and was more than caught between a rock and a hard place. He was bound by commitment to his boss but the bond with the Belfour family just couldn’t seem to strengthen fast enough. I was more upset with him than Amilia was, in my opinion.

I was entranced in this story and couldn’t seem to put it down. It was chilling, heart breaking, and captivating —I couldn’t get enough. Of course, Michelle Griep is one of my favorite gothic writers.

***I was given a copy of this book from the publisher through CelebrateLit. Opinions are my own and a positive view was not required
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This was a fascinating regency era tale with some Frankenstein elements (including an appearance or two of Mary Shelley herself!). This book follows Amelia Balfour, a travel writer making her way in a man's world - just after her father dies. His final wish was that she would oversee a revolutionary surgery for her brother to make him more "normal". Her brother Collin had my heart from the get-go. His kind nature and trust in God even when people treated him as a monster was so wonderful. I also adored Graham Lambert, the assistant surgeon for Collin's procedure. The romance between Graham and Amelia was sweet and the story line and character development was wonderful. This book also had some great spiritual depth as well. There were elements of humor, of sorrow, of good and evil, and a solid faith thread. There was a great deal of mystery surrounding the story as well as a sweet romance. All in all, it had all of the makings of a great book! I would recommend this one to fans of historical novels and to anyone who enjoyed Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Special thanks to Barbour Publishing and Netgalley for an e-copy of this book. I was under no obligation to provide a review and the thoughts contained herein are my own.
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Add another Michelle Griep book to my "most likely to re-read" pile.  😊

5 stars

This book had everything that I've been missing for a while now:  an engaging storyline that kept a pretty good pace, and wonderful characters that I truly came to care for (bawled like a baby at the end).  I was at least a quarter of the way in before realizing this was a re-telling of "Frankenstein."  Looking forward to reading more of the books that will be coming out in this series.

Thanks to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I really liked the overall story. It was so sad, sweet and startling at times. I love Michelle’s stories, but this one was a little harder for me as it seemed to take a while to get to the main story. I did feel like her character development was strong and appreciated that I knew the characters and how they felt at any given moment. The ending is definitely not what I had expected so she got me there! A good read overall!
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Delightfully creepy and yet wonderful in all the best ways. Loved the dialogue, the characters and the plot. I definitely felt some Frankenstein and Beauty and the Beast vibes from this wonderful story. I was absolutely appalled at the medical experiments and "treatments" that went on but was so pleased with how Amelia and Graham worked so hard to take care of her brother. I also loved the swoony kisses and the slow revelation of what would happen. Such a great read and one I certainly recommend reading on a cold winter night. 

I received this temporary complimentary E-book from Barbour Publishing via NetGalley. I am not required by anyone to write a positive review but am pleased to do so. I will receive no fiscal compensation for this review and the opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.
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Amelia Balfour’s dream of traveling to Cairo with her maid and writing a book about her travels has come true. No small feat for a woman during the Regency era in England. When her father passes away unexpectedly, Amelia must choose between fulfilling her dream or fulfilling her father’s last wish.

Her father, an austere and emotionally distant man, has arranged for Amelia’s younger brother, Colin, to receive a surgical procedure. The novel procedure promises to change the course of Colin’s life. Their father made arrangements for the surgery to continue in the event of his death—but Amelia will need to return to the home in Bristol she escaped from seven years ago.

When people see Colin Balfour, they react with screams, shouts, threats, or fainting. An anomaly has caused him to grow prodigiously tall, with a misshapen head. While his outward appearance frightens people, his keen intelligence and kind spirit endear him to those who can see past his physical oddities. 

When Amelia chooses family over her dreams, she has no idea what she will discover.

Graham Lambert, a naval ship’s surgeon, has returned to Bristol to join forces with a respectable surgeon after his administrative discharge from His Majesty’s Navy. He chooses Mr. Peckwood, an elderly surgeon with a thriving practice and dreams of making a name for himself with medical advances. 

Graham has no idea his quest to redeem his career will lead him to discover the depths of depravity in a well-respected surgeon. His moral dilemma increases when he realizes Mr. Peckwood’s actions have put Graham’s new friends, Amelia and Colin Balfour, in grave danger. 
What I Loved About This Book

Griep masterfully creates a gothic setting filled with secret passages, stormy cliff-side scenes, and foreboding institutions. Each chapter starts with an epigraph from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Shelley has a cameo role in Lost in Darkness (she moves into lodgings near the Balfour house). Readers quickly infer the inspiration for Frankenstein’s horrible experiment comes from Colin Balfour. 

Fans of gothic classics such as Jane Eyre or Louisa May Alcott’s lesser-known A Long and Fatal Love Chase will enjoy this book. Fans of Abigail Wilson will also love Lost in Darkness.
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“I have learned never to be quick to judge, for not all are as they appear at first meeting.”

Nobody writes Regency romance quite as eloquently as Michelle Griep. And now Michelle Griep adds Gothic to her expertly crafted subgenres as well. We start Lost in Darkness, #1 Of Monsters and Men, in 1815 London. There we discover Amelia Balfour, a travel journalist, hoping to leave for her dream trip to Egypt. Instead, she unexpectedly finds herself caring for her brother, Colin, whose physical deformities cause him to be a recluse from society. Few make the effort to see past the outer man to discover the gentle soul inside.
Will the two doctors who claim they can help Colin, be able to do such an incredible surgery as to make Colin's form and visage passable to society? Or will there be unexpected problems on this quest for healing?

Griep is an Anglophile with a great love for the historical literature of the period. Rather than retell Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Griep imagines a scenario that would inspire Shelley’s masterpiece. And what an intriguing and suspenseful novel Griep pens! I love all the philosophical questions Griep raises while keeping the reader enthralled with the romantic, gothic atmosphere. How far can a doctor experiment on humans before he has crossed an ethical line? When has one stopped trying to help, and started trying to gain power and prestige at a deep cost to others? “If one could mend the mind, one could bend the mind…” At what cost does one desire success? Many characters must wrestle with this issue.

I loved seeing Graham Lambert progressively develop a spine. Will he actually continue to exert the new muscle he has developed, or shrink back when push comes to shove?

I enjoyed the inclusion of a certain waif. I am a sucker for children in stories, and this one doesn’t fit the mold waifs are usually relegated to.

One more note: I love when slightly dark or suspenseful books have some comic relief. Griep includes this with notes of humor from the maid, off-setting the seriousness and tragedy being presented. Bravo!!

Hard to pick just a few Notable Quotables!

“If houses had souls, this one was clearly bound for Hades.”

“Do not live your lives looking over your shoulder, wondering what others think of your behaviour. It is God you will answer to one day, not society.”

“…the most holy band of society is friendship.”

“There was no cure for fear or despair, leastwise not in his bag of tools.”

“Trust must ultimately rest on God, not in folklore, which is flimsy at best and malignant at worst.”

“Yet I find it is not justice so much as mercy that makes all things right.”

“Family, no matter the size of it, is precious. Never leave a loved one behind.”
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“He was soon borne away by the wave and lost in darkness and distance.” Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

As the nights grow colder and the days shorter, there is nothing better than curling up by the fire with a gothic novel full of eerie characters that will send shivers down your spine. In her latest release, Lost in Darkness, Michelle Griep channels Mary Shelley’s famous novel, Frankenstein, for a prequel-like story that will battle the forces of light and darkness until a champion is declared.

Amelia Balfour has created a successful career as a travel writer; however, just as she receives the opportunity to travel to Cairo, a city she’s always dreamed of visiting, her plans are brought to an abrupt halt after the sudden death of her father. Forced to return to the home she loathes to fulfill her father’s final request, Amelia is reunited with her monstrously-sized younger brother, Colin. Will the revolutionary surgery her father organized truly restore her brother’s appearance, giving him a life outside of the shadows, or will the risk prove more deadly than anyone realized? And, what of Amelia’s ticket to Cairo? Will she make it to her ship in time, or will being home shift her prospects in ways she hadn’t anticipated?

"Everything shook. Her legs. The letter. The tickets to Cairo. In one hand she held her future. In the other, her past. And between lay the present’s ugly decision of who to disappoint—her editor, herself, or the man she’d called Father." ~ Michelle Griep

Graham Lambert is a surgeon with a reputation to rebuild. After sowing all of his life’s savings into a partnership with the renowned surgeon, Mr Peckwood, Graham is given a peek behind the curtain and begins to wonder if he’s made the right choice. In a never-ending tug-of-war struggle with his heart and a past that continues to haunt him, Graham tries not to make any hasty decisions; however, as he assists with Colin Balfour’s pre-operation treatments, Graham’s reservations continue to grow. Will Graham take action before it’s too late, or will the darkness of his heart continue to cloud the light that is trying to seep in?

"Danger may be real, but fear was a choice." ~ Michelle Griep

Lost in Darkness is the perfect Fall/Winter novel. Though there is an air of spooky darkness that films the pages, hope and light push through the seams, creating an inward battle that only increases the further into the novel you travel. Pulling on the themes of faith, mistakes, love, loss, and family, Michelle Griep beautifully narrates this haunting tale.

While I applaud the author for her spectacular vocabulary and how she immersed her readers into the time era, I must admit that I had a hard time connecting with the story. Unlike her previous release, The Thief of Blackfriar’s Lane, I did not become as absorbed with this story or characters. Nevertheless, there is still a lot to admire and praise about Lost in Darkness. If you are a fan of gothic novels, you’re going to thoroughly enjoy this story! There is a book for everyone, and this might be the one for you!

*Thank you, NetGalley and the publisher, for providing me with a pre-release copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own!*
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Definitely, Michelle Griep's best book yet, Lost in Darkness delves into the horrifying world of mental and physical medical care in the early nineteenth century.
Griep pulled me in from the first pages with descriptive imagery, a cast of immediately beloved characters, and a story that grabs you and won't let you go, even when you want it to. She writes of a woman who still hadn't lost the desire to be loved and accepted for who she was. How could anyone not find it gripping and heart-wrenching at the same time? Then there are three men trying to reverse the past in three very different ways.
As the story rushed to a conclusion I didn't want to read and couldn't put down, deep lessons of faith threaded stitches into my heart. Only a master storyteller could make me WANT the end that I knew I didn't want at the same time.
All of which is told with just enough of a nod to gothic horror to make it feel authentic but written so that those who don't care for horror can still enjoy it.
Am I glad I received a free review copy from the publisher? Oh, yeah. Am I glad I ordered my own copy as well when I forgot I requested one? Yep.
Recommended for lovers of gothic novels, historical fiction, and redemptive stories with a strong faith element. Not recommended for... someone. I'm sure someone won't like it for reasons I can't fathom. :)
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Have you ever read a book inspired by Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein? I had not…until now. And wow, what a story Michelle Griep weaves in Lost in Darkness.

This book has so much depth to it. From Colin’s tender and kind heart despite the way others view him because of what they see on the outside to Amelia’s love for her brother and her desire for him to experience life to the fullest, Griep pulled me into this gothic tale. The balance between light and darkness, between healing and madness, between hope and heartbreak is so well done.

There are some hard moments in this book (have some tissues handy) but also some beautiful ones. The journey Amelia, Graham and Colin take is a memorable one that I’m sure I will return to again as the author explores the state of the heart that makes a man a monster or a hero.

Disclosure statement: I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.
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I have read a lot of Michelle’s books and this one ranks at the top of them.

I loved that gospel message in the book and I loved the characters. I was so concerned about Colin and what would happen when Dr. Peckwood got his hands on him. I kept hoping something would delay his surgery and then the truth about the doctor would come light (whatever that is exactly, it isn’t revealed for a while).

Amelia and Graham are both great characters that you will easily come to care for and be cheering them on in a romance that doesn’t seem possible.

If you like historical romance you will not be disappointed in this book.

A copy of this book was given to me through Celebrate Lit. All opinions are my own.
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If there ever was a book written that asks the question “Do looks matter?” this is the one. Through the darkness of a person’s soul hides the insecurity of wanting  to be accepted. We are all guilty of judging people by their looks. It reminds me of the  saying, “Beauty is in the  eye  of the beholder.” This book takes a look at a man who is disfigured yet is the kindest most gentle person you could meet. 

Getting to know Amelia has been such fun to read. She is a sweet woman who adores her brother. She has put everything on hold to be with him for his upcoming surgery. The relationship between brother and sister is sincere and you can sense their close bond. I’m not sure that  surgery is best for Colin, yet the doctor has convinced everyone that it is going to change Colin’s life. Mr. Peckwood is a strange man with dark secrets that make me wonder if he is capable of this life changing surgery. Could it be that this is an experiment of sorts with tragic consequences? 

Graham is a skilled doctor who convinces Mr. Peckwood to take him on as a partner. His encounters with Amelia are nice as their feelings start to grow for each other. There is something stopping Graham from pursuing her though. He has this idea that he is not worthy of her. How sad that he thinks God does not love him as well. Whatever he has done in his past stops him from trusting God or allowing him to open his heart to Amelia.

This story has all the elements of a book that grabs you from the beginning and allows you to discover how devious a person can become when they crave power and greed. My heart went out to Colin as he so desperately wanted to look normal. There is nothing good I can say about Mr. Peckwood except his character is very defined and oozes evil in every thought he has. This a different kind of book where the unthinkable happens as an experimental operation causes Colin to become someone who people fear. 

Although this story can at times be a bit unnerving and filled with darkness it has an excellent lesson on being content with who you are. Finding peace with God becomes evident as characters struggle with their faith. Colin for me was the best character because he never gave up, always had kind words to say and his faith never wavered. The unimaginable pain he endures only strengthens his faith. I loved how he lived by the scripture, “Greater  love has no one than this:to lay down one’s life for ones  friends.” 

This has been a story that blends sadness with hope, evil that is overcome by faith and insecurity destroyed by the unconditional love of God. After reading this book filled with darkness and a feeling of heaviness I reminded myself of this ,  “God is light,  in Him there is no darkness at all.”

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.
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This is the second book by Ms Griep that I have read and found it so very different from anything else I have read.  I have read gothic historicals before but I wasn’t sure if I liked this or not. I think it was so well written that you could relate to the characters.  There was sadness, despair, hopelessness, pain and then happiness, acceptance and a trust that you can only find in trusting in God.  I found that even though I wasn’t sure I liked the story, I couldn’t put it down.  I had to see what the outcome was.  I think it is well worth the read but I prefer my reading material to be more light-hearted. I rated this book a 5 because it was so well written and did not deserve a lower rating because I found it difficult to.  I received this as an ARC from Netgalley and freely give my review.
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Oh my goodness this was such a fun read. And by fun, I mean mysterious, odd, page turning, and having the same qualities in all the books by Michelle Griep. The "Frankenstein" aspect of the story, if you want to call it that, was so neat. I mean, Griep must have done a ton of research to pull it all off, and she does - effortlessly.

Griep is known, at least by me, for creating world that lure you in and don't let you escape. That is absolutely true here. Once you start reading, the pages don't let you leave, and you find yourself engrossed in the characters and their surroundings. Griep's writing is so unique and really in a world of its own. I have yet to meet a book of hers I do not like.

Gothic fans and historical fans alike will devour Griep's latest release. And honestly, I think this is probably one that I will read over and over again. Even though I know how it all turns out, I suspect I'll still be sitting at the edge of my seat! I highly recommend Lost in Darkness!

I received a complimentary copy of this book. I was not required to write a favorable review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Amelia Balfour is set to sail for her next trip when she gets a summons home after her father’s passing.  Her task, to get her brother’s surgery taken care of.  Colin is disfigured, and very tall.  The surgery will either make him more normal, or kill him.  His doctors are a Mr Peckwood and Mr Lambert (Graham).  Graham is tasked with the procedures before the surgery.  We also meet Betsey, Nemo, Mary, Mrs O, Bap and a few others.  Though Colin has to stay hidden from public eye, he is a voice of reason to calm his sister, and even spur Graham on.  Most of the story centers on Colin’s presurgery procedures as well as Graham’s work and the budding friendship of him and Amelia.
A complimentary copy was provided by Barbour through NetGalley.  A review was not required and all thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Once again, Michelle Griep delivers a story that is well researched and hard to put down!  This story perfectly marries gothic romance with Christian themes.  I found the plot to be intense, in a good way, but it is definitely not your typical lighthearted romance; instead, the pages ooze with depth, mystery, and difficult topics.  I love that Michelle Griep is not afraid to dive deep into those themes that are sometimes messy.  Her ability to create characters that grow through these circumstances is remarkable.  I really liked this novel and am still reflecting on it even weeks after finishing it.  I highly recommend this story and cannot wait to see what the author writes next.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Celebrate Lit Tours.  Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
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Michelle Griep is one of my go-to authors. So when I saw her newest book, of course, I was eager to read it, and I was not disappointed! It is another great story as the suspense and tension kept my attention throughout this historical fiction set in early 1800s London. The characters are endearing, with depth and authenticity. Colin stole my heart, and I just wanted the best for him. Amelia is strong and will do anything to help her brother, even setting aside her own dreams to follow her father's wishes. The story moves rather quickly as Griep expertly weaves faith and romance in with tender moments as well as rather shocking events. I was captivated by this Gothic story that is reminiscent of Frankenstein. Lost in Darkness is a book that lovers of historical fiction will not want to miss. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing. A favorable review was not required, and the opinions are my own.
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Michelle Griep writes the most gripping novels, and oh my, this one grabbed me and wouldn’t let go! What an amazing, horrific, emotional story! Torn between caring for her ghastly-appearing brother and her career, Amelia feels forced to abide by her dead father’s agreement to have a questionable surgery performed on Colin in order to make him “normal”.  Dr. Peckwood, the evil component in this story, is balanced by his always-questioning partner Dr. Lambert as Colin is put through horrendous “procedures”.  

I found myself cheering on the relationship between Dr. Lambert and Amelia in their quest to find the truth behind Dr. Peckwood’s crazed methodologies.  This  is a novel with roller-coaster emotions!  One of my favorite lines is “Only God heals the past, but I have learned that kindness makes the present all the sweeter.”

Thank you to NetGalley and Barbour Publishing for a copy of this book.  I was under no obligation to write a positive review; all opinions are my own.
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I wanted to like this historical romance inspired by Frankenstein. But I didn’t. 

<spoiler>

Writer Amelia puts off her longed-for travel to stay with her brother Colin. Colin suffers from a terrible physical deformity that makes people treat him like a monster. An evil doctor claims he can cure him but is in fact just experimenting on him, as he does on prisoners and stolen dead bodies. The doctor’s junior partner, Graham, expresses concern but doesn’t do much about it, while also falling in love with Amelia.  

Colin dies a miserable death AND is the inspiration for Frankenstein’s monster (Mary Shelley makes an appearance in the novel). This is Christian fiction, with a lot of worrying about faith and God, but the nicest person in the book has a terrible end, while his sister happily both marries and travels. (And Colin? Oh, according to Amelia he “is finally free of his brokenness and imperfections,” tra la.)
  
The book seems to have been well researched, and Historical Notes are included in the end, but I have a lot of issues with the Message. Plus I found the text a boring slog, and the presence of a mysterious child (is he real? is he a ghost? is he a figment of the imagination? who cares?) added nothing to the plot.

I’m sure there are people who will find this book inspirational, but I found it depressing and monstrously (pun intended) unfair.

</spoiler>

I read an advance reader copy of Lost in Darkness from Netgalley.
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