Cover Image: A Dreadful Splendor

A Dreadful Splendor

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This was a well written mystery! I guessed part of who the culprit was, but wasn't totally right about the whole thing. Overall, I would definitely recommend to anyone who thinks it sounds interesting!

I received an e-ARC from the publisher.

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A Dreadful Splendor is a delightfully gothic and pulpy historical mystery. Genevieve is a young spiritualist who is coerced into performing a séance. The man who engages her services has promised to represent her in court (because, oh yeah, she's also wanted for quite a few crimes), but he has requested a specific outcome of the séance. He would like Genevieve to indicate that the dead lady of the manor is at peace.

After her arrival, she is soon approached by the lord of the manor, who also has an interest in a specific outcome of the séance - but he doesn't want a message of peace in the afterlife. Rather, he is convinced that the dead woman was the victim of foul play, and he is hoping that the séance can help identify the killer. Genevieve has to figure out the mystery of who killed the lady so that she can figure out how to satisfy both men's demands and get out of the manor alive. In the meantime, she's experiencing all sorts of otherworldly activities that she has NOT been directing.

The mystery has plenty of clues and red herrings that make the book fun to read, while the Victorian setting and spiritualist background add a bit of a Sherlockian flavor. There's also an understated romance - but can Genevieve trust her newfound flame? If you like Deanna Rayburn's or Sherry Thomas's Victorian mysteries, this is definitely one you'll want to check out.

This objective review is based on a complimentary copy of the novel.

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i enjoyed it, though it felt slow at times since i didn’t really care for the characters but the twists were interesting.
*Thank you NetGalley, William Morrow Publishing for providing a copy of the book*

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A Dreadful Splendor had a lot of potential but ended up falling short for me. I loved the idea of following a troubled spiritualist who knows her work is fake but ends up having to confront the idea that spirts may actually be real. I liked the main character and the mystery of who was behind the bizarre happenings. The storyline and the setting certainly followed the Gothic mystery vibe but I found myself often bored with how stretched out some of the events were. The twist at the end was a bit predictable and disappointing and I also didn't like how cheesy it ended up with the romance. Overall this was a good mystery but if you're looking for more of a Gothic read with spooks and specters you might find yourself a but disappointed.

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I definitely had a feel for where this story was going and how it was going to get there, but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment. If anything, I had more anticipation to discover if I was correct. Definitely couldn’t put this one down!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

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I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own.
A Dreadful Splendor promises to be an “imaginative and ghoulishly fun murder mystery,” and while it takes a while to get there, it delivers. What begins as a fairly standard story, following a down-on-her-luck young woman navigating these intense situations along with the romantic attentions of a rich suitor with rumors about his late wife, takes a pretty drastic left turn in the final chapters. It ultimately subverts expectations, and surprised me, while also making sense.
I have mixed feelings on the characters, and that’s a part of Gothic-style stories I often feel is a bit lacking. But while it took time to really warm to them, it made sense with the pacing of the story. Genevieve is interesting because of what she’s been through. She’s rather young, but that’s in keeping with genre, and her insecurities and naïveté are conveyed in a way that makes her compelling instead of sympathetic. I didn’t know what to make of Gareth at first, but as the book went on and I got to know him, I warmed to him. Their romance complements the main mystery plot pretty well.
I enjoyed this a lot, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys Gothic fiction and murder mysteries.

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This book had the hair on my arms raised almost the entire time, with shivers running down my spine and my imagination running wild! I kept checking to see if this was a paranormal romance, because I was absolutely convinced that ghosts were real. Even now, looking back at what I just read, I have to convince myself all over again that this is, in fact, a gothic romance full of mystery and darkness. The author's intention is to make the reader question, and she did her job spectacularly. It is the best type of ghost story to tell with the lights off and a flashlight eerily shadowing your face as you scare your friends.

Genevieve Timmons is fast developing a reputation for being a talent spiritualist...and a swindler. As she is fleeing the scene of her latest scheme, she is caught and thrown in jail, where a stranger offers her a deal. Come with him to his employer's estate and conduct a seance, helping to ease his suffering after his fiance's death, and he will help her escape the hangman's noose. Knowing she has little options left to her, she agrees, and she finds much more than she bargains for when she arrives at Somerset Park estate. The supposedly grieving lord is not grieving at all but rather furious at what he believes is the murder of his bride. He wants Genevieve to help trap the killer, all the while fooling the household into thinking she is really there to simply rest the soul that haunts their home. As she learns more about the history of the family and home, things begin to happen that convince her not all is as it seems. And when what seems like pranks meant to frighten her turn violent, she is convinced that it's not just a ghost that haunts the home...but a murderer is looking to kill again.

I enjoyed this book so much, from the mystery to the captivating setting to the sparks of romance that fly between Genevieve and her lord. While the romance is extremely light, making this more of a mystery with romance included as a tasty side, I found myself eager to turn the page despite how late the hour was. I stayed up late, because I had to know how it ended and whether or not Genevieve would discover what I had begun to expect was actually happening. Her character grew on me as time passed - she was hard, at times unfeeling and very selfish, but then we learn of her background and begin to feel empathy for her. As she started to ferret out the truth, I admired her, and so did Lord Chadwick. He was so stern and imposing at first, and though he remained a very grumpy sort of character, he softened towards Genevieve as time passed. By the time we came to the conclusion of the story, there was a subtle affection that had seeped into the pages, and I fully believed they were in love. I'm not sure they realized it, since both were intent on other matters, but once fate put them in danger, the truth came out. It was a wonderful ending to an exciting, tragic tale.

This was the first book I read by this author, and it most certainly will not be my last! I love stories that keep me guessing, and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time.

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“As with all your other clients, you were going to fool my broken heart with all your grand trickery, weren’t you? Seduce my bereaved soul, while secretly thrilled at the dreadful splendor of it all.”

I will never get tired of Gothic stories. I loved this one so much! It follows Genevieve, a spiritualist con artist who is arrested seemingly for the last time only to be rescued by a Mr. Lockhart. Mr. Lockhart posts Jenny’s bail, promising to defend her and in exchange asks her to perform a seance to put Mr. Pemberton at peace after the death of his bride, Audra, on the eve of their wedding.

Mr. Pemberton finds Jenny attempting to steal candelabras and flee the manor almost immediately. He then asks that she perform the seance to help catch the person responsible for Audra’s murder. This is a great murder mystery that will keep you guessing to the very end!

“Among all that death was the only time I was truly alive—that was my dreadful splendor.”

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This was a fantastic mashup of the game CLUE, and gothic romance in the Victorian era. I loved it! The twist at the end I didn’t expect!!!! A definite must read for the fall season especially!

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A Dreadful Splendor is a gripping Gothic murder mystery complete with a gloomy atmosphere, family secrets, mysterious deaths, and a touch of romance. It satisfied all my gothic mystery cravings. I enjoyed this book immensely. The only thing I didn't completely love is the romance. I liked the main heroine and her romantic interest very much, but I wish the romance was better developed. Still, I would recommend A Dreadful Splendor to all Gothic fiction fans.

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This wasn't listed as a YA and I had never heard of B.R. Myers before to know that she writes YA. Had I known I may still have requested it, but my expectations would have been quite a bit lower.

It's not a bad book, but it's pretty much what I would expect if I found out that the people behind The CW shows like Riverdale suddenly decided to try their hands at PBS Masterpiece.

I love PBS Masterpiece....
I do not love The CW fluff.

Teaser/review to be published 19 August 2022 at

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Thank you Netgalley, author, and the publishers for allowing me the opportunity to read this e-arc.

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The cover of this book is absolutely beautiful. It definitely made me want to pick this book up and check it out. Unfortunately I thought the story was really slow and I had a difficult time connecting to the characters and storyline.

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How do you say I loved this in ghost? Jenny Timmons is a con artist using seances to rob wealthy customers. But she’s not all bad, right? They might lose some jewels but they gain a sense of closure. At least, that’s what she tells herself.
But when Jenny is caught, jailed and then bailed and finds herself dragged to do a seance for a grieving almost-widow by his lawyer, she finds she might have bitten off more than she can chew for the first time. After all, handcuffs she could escape, but a real ghost?!
Almost everyone in the manor is a suspect: who killed Lady Audra the night before her wedding to Mr Pemberton? It was ruled a suicide but others seem to think otherwise. Ghosts are one theory. There are PLENTY more.
I had so much fun reading this! So many red herrings and twists and the author didn’t leave any of loose ends.
If you like ghost stories, whodunnits, murder mysteries, creepy castle vibes, seedy dark alley and secrets vibes, I think you’ll really enjoy this.

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(4.25/5) This book was delightfully spooky and would be a perfect read for around Halloween, which is good because it comes out in a few weeks! I was originally drawn to this book by the cover art, which is just gorgeous! If you like: Downton Abbey, murder mysteries, family curses, and con artist seers who find out that perhaps the paranormal is more than a few tricks, this is a good book for you! Try as I might to work out for myself how this book would twist and turn, I did not expect the ending.

My only qualms with this book were that it focused too much on plot to the detriment of creating characters that you connect with and that there were a few things that I think the characters took much too long to pick up on (I was yelling at the book begging them to notice what was right in front of them).

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of A Dreadful Splendor.

In Victorian London, soon-to-be 19 years old, Genevieve Timmons is a plucky orphan posing as a spiritualist to swindle wealthy mourners—until a mistake lands her in jail.

When a stranger arrives with an offer to help his employer contact his late wife, he promises to handle her case so she can remain out of jail.

But when Genevieve arrives at the palatial estate, she soon discovers that not only the staff hold secrets, so does the manor and she may be in more trouble than she ever imagined.

I liked Genevieve; not surprisingly, she is a typical heroine in these types of genres; she's street smart, wily and all alone.

She relies on her wits and her instinct to survive, especially during a time period where women are considered as second class citizens.

I liked the writing style, though the narrative dragged.

The pacing was slow since the author provided exposition on some of the supporting and minor characters.

Everyone had a part to play and they played it well.

I do agree with some reviewers that the tone of the writing was YA-centric; Genevieve comments often on how handsome Gareth is. This got tiresome fast.

The writing was good; the author is skilled in providing sensory details and providing atmosphere and tension to certain scenes as well as describing the opulence of the manor, the dungeon, the clothes the women of that time period wore.

I guessed a few of the twists, though not all of them, and I was pleased to see how Genevieve's mother's death was resolved and that Genevieve got the last word in at the woman who mistreated her and her mother.

I would read the author's next book.

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A perfect mix of a classic gothic tale a cozy mystery. Jenny is a fascinating character, she was exactly relatable but she was infinitely appealing. Her hard edges were obviously a result of the difficult life she'd lived but she still , maybe unwillingly, harbored a soft and hopeful heart. The juxtaposition of those facets of her character, and the way she responded to them were great.
The mystery at the heart of the story was perfect. There were enough clues sprinkled throughout that I thought several times that I knew how it was going to turn out but although I got some of things right it wasn't the way I was expecting. By the end I couldn't read fast enough but everything turned out in a perfectly satisfying way.

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I wanted to complain that this was a pinch dragging in the beginning, but I realized the pacing was actually pretty on point - I just cared alot more about the characters at the end, making the back 1/4 seem much faster than it probably was. Not a bad problem to have!

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3.5 stars

I don't know how it happened, but it seems like 2022 has suddenly become my year of figuring out where I stand on Gothic novels and discovering my likes and dislikes within the genre. A Dreadful Splendor is the third such novel I have read in the past month and I absolutely burned through it!

Rather than having a naive, virginal heroine arrive at the isolated manor of the dark, brooding hero, Myers gives her protagonist Jenny some teeth by making her a fake spiritualist who has both street smarts and some darkness of her own. It is a variation on the classic gothic tropes that pays off wonderfully as we watch a heroine who is sure that there is no life beyond the grave haunted by the spirits of the manor and of her past. Interspersing the chapters from Jenny's perspective with excerpts from the diary of the hero's dead fiancé is another great update that really propelled the novel along and made me say "just one more chapter" over and over again.

Honestly, the thing about this book that let me down the most was the big reveal. I don't know if it was just me, but I saw almost every facet of it coming a mile away and it barely left an impact. On top of that, it managed to be drawn out and yet not fully realized. Maybe it's because I didn't really believe in the romance that had apparently developed along the way.

A Dreadful Splendor is definitely a engrossing read that does some lovely things to subvert the classic Gothic tropes, but in the end, I still found myself wanting more from it.

Thank you to NetGalley and William Morrow Paperbacks for an ARC of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review!

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thanks to netgalley for sending me this ARC.
This book fell short. The romance wasn’t enticing at all. The anecdotes about the main character’s generic french mother were tired and barely fleshed out, and the mystery made zero sense. This book just… lacked. It had potential to be something, and I can tell the author had fun with it, but it just… wasn’t my thing.

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