Cover Image: Lost in Darkness

Lost in Darkness

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"Even if there be monsters, there is none so fierce as that which resides in man’s own heart.

Enchanting Regency-Era Gothic Romance Intertwined with Inspiration from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

Travel writer Amelia Balfour’s dream of touring Egypt is halted when she receives news of a revolutionary new surgery for her grotesquely disfigured brother. This could change everything, and it does...in the worst possible way.

Surgeon Graham Lambert has suspicions about the doctor he’s gone into practice with, but he can’t stop him from operating on Amelia’s brother. Will he be too late to prevent the man’s death? Or to reveal his true feelings for Amelia before she sails to Cairo?"

Regency-Era, check. Gothic, check. Egypt, check. Must read, check.
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Amelia Balfour is summoned home after her father’s passing. Not that she wants to go but she would do anything for her younger brother Colin, and their father has arranged for Colin to undergo surgery to reconstruct his disfigured (grotesque) face. 

Colin has lived a life as a recluse because of his face and it scares people away. Amelia has spent most of her recent life as a travel writer traveling all over.  They are both running away rather than to others.

Their father has chosen a surgeon who has objectionable designs on how exactly he will give Colin a newly constructed face. Mr. Peckford has just recently hired an associate, Mr. Graham Lambert to assist him in Mr. Balfour’s surgery.

Lost in Darkness is dark, but so is our brokenness and I like how this story played on that premise. I really liked ALL of the characters as usual. Yes, even Mr. Peckwood is a perfectly drawn villain, he played his role very well.  Michelle Griep has always had wonderfully well-developed characters and Lost in Darkness does not disappoint. I am just waiting for Ms. Griep’s next great read!

My gratitude for Netgalley and Barbour books. All opinions expressed are my own.
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Regency Gothic in this Frankenstein reminiscent novel. 

Synopsis: 
Amelia Balfour has managed to gain successful sovereignty as a travel writer after running from her high handed father seven years prior, but in this flight she was forced to leave her younger brother, Colin, to his own devices. 

 Colin is not your 'run of the mill' chap, he has been consigned to live in the shadows of society due to a condition, Acromegaly, which renders him with an increase of growth hormone, prompting those unaware of the condition to run in horror of his frightening person.

We open on Amelia receiving a much welcomed career advancing opportunity from her editor to travel to Cairo, and she is on cloud nine, the culmination of years of hard work finally paying off!
Only 5 minutes later…
That venture is thwarted with the news her estranged father has passed, and that she is charged the guardianship for her brother-Colin- who requires experimental brain surgery to correct his condition. 

Despite the dangerous unprecedented nature of the surgery, Colin is set on it. He dearly longs to one day lead a normal life.

Mr Peckwood is the cutting edge surgeon who will attempt to correct Colin's condition. While he may be on the forefront of medicine, he is dead last in his outdated views of woman. A finer example of a Troglodyte you would be hard pressed to encounter!

Mr Graham Lambert, a dismissed naval surgeon, is considered a liability and has been hard pressed to find work. Which is why when he manages to get a foot in the door via a tentative partnership with Peckwood he is eager not to rock the boat, even as Peckwoods methods increasingly unnerve him. 

Amelia may still have a chance to salvage her career if Colin's surgery is accomplished and his recovery goes well in three weeks time, she may still make a ship to Cairo. 
 
Some other intrigue comes into play with an old neighbor Amelia presumed dead, Mr Peckwoods nighttime extracurricular research, and mysterious toys that keep appearing around the grounds, yet no children living there.

Going in, knowing from what source material this story draws inspiration, you know it's not going to end with sunshine, roses, and kumbaya, but you do expect to be drawn into an atmospheric gothic yarn. 

What Worked: 
 
♡My favorite aspects were those concerning the premiss of the Balfour family dynamics, such as Colin feeling abandoned; whenever he wrestled with himself it was interesting to read. Amelia’s desire to overcorrect and her quest for perfectionism- very accurate for any CPTSD-  have created a monster in her heart. The dichotomy of Amelia & Colin, one being physically sound but internally muddled, and the other being a monstrosity on the outside yet remains absolutely lovely on the inside was an interesting concept.
With trying to distance herself from her father she sacrificed years with her brother, an important message that you can't remove the bad without also 'throwing the baby out with the bath water,' that those things often come hand in hand. 

♡I found the value Amelia put on superstitions, instead of on herself or G-d, and how that evolved towards the end of story a good message. 

♡Prose & dialogue was solid.

♡I enjoyed Mr Peckwood, such a wily madlad! I found his antics unintentionally comedic.

What Irked:
✗The gothic elements were slow to rear their head and color the story, thus I had a deuce of a time getting into it. The final act provided a good dose of it, but by then I was used to the patchy pace of the novel; some periods where the story twiddled its thumbs & had me bored, and others with sudden bursts of action- the pace is quite mercurial. 

✗ On romance/ chemistry front I grade it an ‘okay.’ Not the most memorable couple, not entirely contrived, somewhere in that middle ground. I didn't feel the attraction between Amelia and Graham was well established or at least not well conveyed, overall I wasn't exited about it.

✗Likely a point of personal preference, but having Mary Shelley as a character in this and using Colin to inspire her masterpiece was too meta for me, tripped my immersion in the story. Her appearance just wrecked suspension of disbelief every time and as a character I found her a superfluous ornament. 

The Brass Tacks: 
Well written in the technical clinical aspect of writing, but my biggest qualms were how slow the start was, the gothic atmosphere was lighter than I had expected, and that spark when your emotions are engaged with the story is absent. I was really hard pressed to care about the characters, to feel alongside them through the events. I wracked my brain to no avail trying to dissect why as I found their premiss and potential of the family dynamics promising. To my cathartic relief another more perceptive reviewer, 'Historical Fiction,' spelled it out for me: the lead characters were static. 

This isn't a book that had me on the edge of my seat, it took me two weeks to get through. It is well written, some good dialogue, promising character backstories, and some nice messages- I think its just a bit boring. 

I'm just not that into you book- sorry. 

I received an ARC from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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'Just when her heart couldn't possibly break more, another chip fell away.'

Michelle Griep is a great favorite of mine and this book only further cemented my opinion of her work.  Here she presents her readers with a great story line.  As usual, her research is impeccable and I love that aspect.  I thoroughly enjoy looking into the history behind a book and she provides this very well.  

Griep has crated characters that totally go down deep in my heart.  And one I wanted to slap.  Sorry, but that's how I felt.  Only further proof that she creates great characters, if she imagines up a really nasty one so hately a reader wants to pop him.  Just my opinion.  

The story was of such talent that I could barely tear myself away at times.  Absolutely and completely fascinating and one I won't soon forget.  There was great joy, great sadness and a thunderously perfect spiritual thread here, one that will ring loudly in my heart.  Bravo!

My thanks to Barbour Publishing for a copy of this book via Net Galley.  I was not required to leave a review and the opinion here is my own.
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Travel writer Amelia Balfour has fought to make a way for herself in a man’s world. Her dream of touring Egypt is finally within her grasp. Then she receives news of a potentially groundbreaking new surgery that could help her disfigured brother. Risking everything she has worked and hoped for, Amelia hurries to his side.

Surgeon Graham Lambert has achieved what he wanted — to go into practice with a revolutionary doctor who isn’t afraid to try unconventional treatments. However, he soon starts to wonder if his new partner is a bit too unorthodox. Graham struggles between speaking up or trusting his senior partner’s expertise as the latter prepares for an operation that could mean a new life for the patient or death.

Lost in Darkness is a compelling story of loss, love, and hope amidst it all. Inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Michelle Griep pens a gripping, heart-wrenching story the reader cannot set aside.

Brimming with danger and intrigue the author masterfully created characters that elicited deep emotions in me. Some I wanted to throttle and others shelter. Some I hated and others I loved with an aching fierceness. Amelia and Mr. Lambert are fascinating characters one roots for, but it was Colin (Amelia’s brother) who stole the show. What a sweet, beautiful, and loyal soul. I wanted the novel to be about him. I experienced his struggles and victories as if he were of flesh and blood.

Real-life author Mary Shelley makes a few cameo appearances in a fun, fictionalized imagining of what could have inspired the famous classic. The story propelled me to Google in order to research more about Shelley and her life. Talk about a lot of sorrow! However, I love it when a book doesn’t only teach things within its pages but also pushes me to know more outside of them. Lost in Darkness did just that, not only in regards to Shelley, but a couple other areas as well.

The ending can only be described as bittersweet. I wanted to sob and smile, fling the book across the room and hug it close to my chest. Yes, I know the story is fiction. Believe me, I reminded myself of this fact multiple times, but it made no difference. You’ll have to read for yourself because, well, spoilers.

Fans of Regency-era gothic romances won’t want to miss Griep’s latest. However, I recommend not starting if you only have a limited time to read. Once I began, I didn’t put it down until I finished.
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I was less than ten pages into Michelle Griep's LOST IN DARKNESS when I realized I had taken a wrong turn at Albuquerque. I have nothing against the genre, but I'd been so distracted at the idea of what this book could be that I failed to identify it as Christian fiction. This fact naturally caused me to question whether or not I'm qualified to review anything more complex than a napkin ring, but that's a topic for another day. 

I came to Griep's work hoping for something akin to Kessel's PRIDE AND PROMETHEUS. This expectation wasn't entirely unreasonable as both novels play on the themes and ideas of Shelley's masterpiece, but the comparison proved analogous to that of apples and oranges, so I took a step back and thought again. Moments in this novel, particularly those where Griep's heroine shares her stage with the famed author, brought Ambrose's CLAIRE'S LAST SECRET to mind, but in terms of content, I think this piece shelves best alongside Daines' IT STARTED IN BUDAPEST.  

That said, my struggle with LOST IN DARKNESS wasn't limited to poorly placed assumptions. I appreciated the melancholic notes Griep struck with Colin, but Amalia, Graham, and Dr. Peckwood proved too static for my tastes. I also felt that despite the emotional aesthetic of the final act, the gothic elements of the story took too long to develop. 

When all is said and done, I'm not sure LOST IN DARKNESS has enough meat on the bone to appeal to secular readers, but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to genre enthusiasts. Though I didn't care one way or the other for the religious content of this book, I feel very strongly that I'd have enjoyed it a great deal more if I'd been emotionally invested in its themes and motifs.
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Lost in Darkness is my favorite that I have read by Michelle Griep to date. It includes a lot that I love to read in a book: history, romance, mystery, danger, suspense, and adventure. It was far from predictable and I could never tell what was going to happen in the next scenes. I loved the duo of Amelia and Graham with the perfect setting. I loved every single page of this book.  

Lost in Darkness is getting a very well deserved five plus stars. I highly recommend it for readers who enjoy reading a clean historical mystery. As always, I look forward to more by Michelle Griep in the future. This one should not be missed and most definitely worth a read. 

I received a copy of Lost in Darkness from the publisher, but was not required to write a positive review. This review is one hundred percent my own honest opinion.
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This is a truly Gothic tale, intriguing, suspenseful and tragic.

Amelia puts her dreams of Cairo on hold to help her brother Colin, who is set to undergo an experimental surgery, which was their father's last directive.

Graham is a doctor who convinces Dr. Peckwood to take him on as a partner, and soon becomes involved in Colin's case, and by extension Amelia. Although Graham and Amelia's relationship is one we see growing through the story, there are other dichotomies driving conflict: the Balfours' father and his influence even after death, Peckwood and his lack of regard for others, Graham's will to do what's best, and the siblings' regard for each other. For every dark part, there's a light one that prevails in the end, if not in justice at least in grace.

It drew a sort of anxiety from me, knowing what was partly coming, and knowing Amelia and Graham would be unable to help Colin.

It goes without saying the superb writing and masterful use of imagery and language.

I received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley and this is my honest opinion.
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If you're looking for an eerie feeling, Frankenstein inspired tale to curl up with this Autumn, look no further. Michelle Griep seemingly effortlessly captures the spirit of the season in Lost in Darkness and whisks readers away into the world she has created within her novel.
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Oh wow! What a book! Once I started reading, I did not want to put this down! This story is told by three people, Graham has been a ship's doctor for many years, and he becomes a partner with a well known surgeon. Amelia is a travel writer, writing about her journeys to different places. she has a younger brother, whom she loves dearly, that has a disease that has caused his face to be misshapen, and he has scars from burns he suffered as a small child. Considered a monster by most, Colin hides away so nobody can see him, Their father has recently passed, but before he did he had arranged for a surgery for Colin, to help his deformity. In the hopes that this surgery will help him, Amelia encourages him to have it, and Graham gets to know these siblings well, and he discovers many questionable things about his partner that make him wonder what this doctor's ultimate goals are. Excellent story until the finish! Wonderfully written!
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This dark gothic tale is clean and doesn't cross over into horror, which is a genre I will not do. I think it's brilliant. This is the "real" story that inspired the fictional Frankenstein. Very clever concept, and very well written. This book may end up becoming Michelle Griep's finest work.
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Lost in Darkness

There are no spoilers in this review. Spoiler free zone!

-Tags: Eerie, Dark, Frankenstein, London, Romance, Regency, Foggy, Atmospheric.
-Author: Michelle Griep
-Overall: 5/5, 8/10
-Plots and storyline: 4.5/5
-Characters: 5/5
-Would I reread? Yes!
-Would I recommend? Yes! 
-Reading time for me: A couple days due to school.
-Short and sweet: This was a pleasant surprise! Not in the sense of being surprised at how good it was, because I knew that Michelle Griep couldn’t go wrong with her talent and a Frankenstein story, but in the sense of how much this book went against the typical, cliche Christian fiction book.
-One word review: Brilliant!

Frankenstein meets Beauty and The Beast

This one was a hit. I had read The Thief Of Blackfriars Lane and instantly fell in love, so as soon as I saw this, I knew it’d be great too! I think my favorite thing about this book, if I had to pick, would be how pleasantly unpredictable it was! It went against every normal book in this genre.

First off, religion. It wasn’t overbearing, but it glorified God in every way possible. I really appreciate that the main characters were ordinary, everyday people. Not perfect, nor did they stand apart from others, besides the plot around Colin, of course. They were relatable, and people that I could root for. So bravo for that! 

I also love the fact that God doesn’t talk directly to the characters. I hate to say this, but I can’t stand the fact that nearly every new YA Christian fiction book has the “Creator” that directly thought-talks to “The Chosen One” whenever he or she asks God for direction, or even when they don’t ask. Lost in Darkness proved that you can still have God’s guidance in everything without having “a voice” in your head that tells you what’s coming. The characters, even with their broken faith, always came back to the actual Word of God, not just asking God for something and then poof! You get an instant response. 

So, the characters. Just brilliant! I’m just going to leave it at that.

This story, guys. It’s epic. It’s unpredictable. In the end I was shocked at what happened! It was a truly creative tale filled with intrigue and danger, and bits of humor spread out. 

Can I just take a minute to admire that lovely cover? Moment of silence, please. I’d definitely say it’s worth a District 12 hand sign of respect from Hunger Games. (If you don’t know what that is, then you have a sad life.)

And lastly, the writing. It was so...flowy. It had such a pretty ring to it, almost like a lullaby. It just fit perfectly into the setting (another awesome thing about this book!) by the style. If it’s meant to be gloomy at a scene, it’s certainly gloomy simply by the poetic nature of Miss Michelle’s words. I’m jealous that she has such great talent when it comes to writing!

And so, I’ll leave you with...drumroll please...quotes! Of course! Just a taste of the beautiful language used…

“‘Are you an avid reader of obscurity, then?’
‘I’m an avid reader, period.’”

“Hazel eyes stared into her own, more brown than green at the moment...He was not handsome per se, not in a worldly sense. Nothing about him smacked style or refinement. Yet he was not altogether unpleasing to the eye and, in truth, was attractive in an earthy sort of way.”

I just must add here, I loved how Lambert was not described as a super attractive person as far as looks, but had a wonderful personality! ^^

“‘Normal is but a state of mind, Sister.’”

“‘Grief is a strange thing, Miss Mims. Sometimes it’s shy. Quiet. Crouching in a shadowy corner so that you don’t even know it’s there. Other times it attacks like a thick, damp pneumonia, smothering the life from you. Most of the time though—and this is the worst, mind—sorrow is a grey man, hanging off your arm like a needy old uncle you wish to tell to go away, but you know your words will be wasted. He won’t leave. He has nowhere else to go...So you give in. Shut yourself away with him. Dine with the grey man every blessed night and greet him the moment your eyes flutter open in the morning. Before you know it, years have passed. Many, many years. And one day you look at the old hag in the mirror and wonder why you wasted your life on the bones of someone who’d been buried decades ago.’”

“Time did heal wounds, but not scars. Never scars.”

So what are you waiting for? Go read it! Don’t worry, as soon as it releases, I’ll get my own paperback ;)

Acknowledgments and disclaimers: 
I received a complimentary copy of this book through Netgalley, the publisher, and the author—thank you!! The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. I was not asked or required to write a positive review.
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4 stars- I have read many of Michelle’s books and she always does a great job of weaving a thrilling story, whether it’s a comedy or a drama. “Into the Darkness” draws you in and takes you on an intriguing story filled with romance, a bit of mystery and lots of foreboding. I read this book in a matter of days because I wanted to see what would happen next. 
	On the flip side I also struggled with this book, not because it was poorly written but because I sensed what was to come for the characters. Living in the 21st century, with the understanding of modern day medicine and science, I find it hard at times to read stories set long ago when medical knowledge was minimal. Even though I remind myself that the characters don’t know any better, I still cringe at their choices. I often get anxious for the characters in the story, knowing what is likely to happen based on their lack of medical knowledge. But maybe this is what constitutes a good story, when I am so attached to the characters that it matters to me what happens to them. 
	This is a great read for a foggy night by the fire. It’s even inspired me to read “Frankenstein” and learn more about Mary Shelley. I always look forward to Michelle’s latest book, knowing I am in for a good tale. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC to review!
Rating (on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being excellent)
Quality of writing: 5
Pace: 3
Plot development: 3
Characters: 3
Enjoyability: 3
Ease of Reading: 4

Overall rating: 3 out of 5
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LOST IN DARKNESS by MICHELLE GRIEP is the heart wrenching story of Colin Balfour, a terrifying monster to look at but with a heart of gold, and his beautiful, devoted, older sister Amelia, who longs for him to be able to come out of hiding and live a normal life. Their father was overbearing and unloving and left instructions in his will for the unconventional surgeon, Mr Peckwood, to operate on his son’s brain in order to make him look normal.
Graham Lambert, a former ship’s surgeon, has become Peckwood’s partner and assistant, and as such does his best to alleviate the pain caused by the painful procedures he has to perform on Colin every day. Graham has become very close to his patient and to Colin’s sister Amelia. The day of the operation dawns at last…and I will leave you there for fear of spoiling things for you!
I like the author’s portrayal of the characters - Amelia, the successful author of travel articles with her superstitions and her need to appear perfect, Colin with his loving heart and strong faith in God, Graham with his compassion and growing faith, and the rather strange and frightening Mr Peckwood, to name a few. 
Taking place in England in 1815, there is a decided Gothic atmosphere in the novel, with strange people, strange occurrences, hallucinations, monsters and dark intrigue. 
I found Lost In Darkness fascinating and highly recommend it for the great story, well defined characters and strong Christian message.
I was given a free copy of the book by NetGalley from Barbour Publishing. The opinions in this review are completely my own.
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Lost in Darkness by Michelle Griep is an amazing historical fiction that has every element: history, mystery, intrigue, romance, and an eerie element that really kept me coming back for more.

I have been a fan of Ms. Griep’s for a while now so sign me up for any book she writes! 

I love this gothic, atmospheric, eerie, yet realistic historical fiction. Set in the Regency period, this story takes us into some of the darker corners of family, reality, fiction, truth, obligations, societal roles, and the author mixes it perfectly with hope, faith, trust, humanity, and loyalty. 

It was gripping, it was suspenseful, it was fascinating. I loved the character cast and I especially loved Amelia and Graham. Perfectly complex and realistic characters that really fit the story. I loved it. 

Home run. 

5/5 stars 

Thank you NG and Barbour Fiction for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. 

I am submitting this through NG only and will post it to my GR, Bookbub, Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon/closer to publication per Publisher request.
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#lostindarkness #netgalley

Thanks to netgalley for allowing me to read this book. This book was very reminiscent of a frankenstein type storyline. It pulled at my heart strings and had adventure. I enjoyed it very much.
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Let me preface this review by stating that some time ago I went through a gothic historical fiction reading phase. Books like "The Monk" and "The Castle of Otranto" comprised my reading diet. Fortunately there are no evil monks or giant falling helmets here.

While Michelle Griep's "Lost in Darkness" is distinctly gothic with a clear nod to "Frankenstein", there is a romance as well. Amelia Balfour returns home after years away to care for her disfigured brother Colin, whose affliction was apparent to me, although it's not mentioned by name until late in the novel.

Characters are well-developed, from the mild-mannered, intelligent Colin to the creepy mad scientist doctor Uriah Peckwood, whose experiments are unconventional and lead to unexpected results. The romance between Amelia and Graham Lambert is sweet and satisfying, although it does not take center stage. The eccentric neighbor Mrs. Ophidian, with her odd attachment to her feathered friends, proves to be surprisingly astute. She injects a bit of humor in this serious novel. Mary Shelley (née Godwin) makes an appearance. Secondary characters are appealing.

Melancholic, heartbreaking, or romantic by turns, "Lost in Darkness" has a more religious tone than most of Griep's works. Amelia thinks she knows best, while Peckwood takes his "God complex" to a whole new level. As always, Griep's prose is stellar.

Thanks to NetGalley and Barbour Publishing for an ARC of this engrossing novel.
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This slightly spooky story intrigued me, kept me turning (virtual) pages, made me laugh, and even made me cry a little. I felt for Colin in his difficult situation, and I enjoyed following Amelia and Graham as they grew closer to God and each other. I've really liked the other three books I've read by Michelle Griep, so I shouldn't be surprised I liked this one too!

Many thanks to NetGalley and Barbour Publishing for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest review!
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