Cover Image: A Dreadful Splendor

A Dreadful Splendor

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews


A Dreadful Splendor by B.R. Meyers

Genevieve Timmons got caught. The fake spiritualist swindled the wrong family and she finally got caught. But in a very lucky moment while being hauled in to jail, she meets a man who is in need of her services. He is the manager of the estate of one Lord Pemberton, who has been absolutely distressed since the passing of his fiancé, Audra. If Genevieve can pull of a seance that can put the Lord’s mind at ease, this man will fight for her freedom. Upon arrival to Somerset Park, and after meeting Lord Pemberton, she realizes that he is not the man he was made out to be. He is not a heartbroken man, but rather one out for the truth. He believes his fiancé was murdered and he intends to use Genevieve to find out the truth. In this spooky murder mystery, join this group in Somerset park and find out what truth lies in the walls of this cursed estate.


I love love loved this book. I am here for all the spooky murder mysteries. This book was so unique to me. A period piece about a girl faking being able to communicate with ghosts, a curse on a wealthy family, and an investigation that will keep you on your toes until the very end. Once again, with my lost ability to predict what was going to happen, this ending got me. I was completely shocked. Didn’t see an inch of it coming and it was AWESOME! Go and check this one out and I’m sure you will NOT be disappointed. 


✨Thank you to @netgalley for the ARC!✨

#bookstagram #bookmom #bookstagrammer #bookclub #whatimreading #bookies #bookish #readwithme #ilovebooks #booksbookandmorebooks #bookishlife
#bookishthings #currentlyreading #bookrecs#murdermystery #thriller #mystery #spirits #ghosts #ghoststories
Was this review helpful?
It doesn't get any more perfect than a Victorian Gothic novel this time of year! A Dreadful Splendor is mysterious and spooky with a dash of romance. After Genevieve a fake spiritualist is arrested for stealing from her clients she is taken to a country estate to perform a seance for a Lord grieving the tragic loss of his fiance. 
 I love gothic romances and this was well done. You get a little bit of everything out of this. Ghosts, murder, mystery and a slow burn romance. 

I voluntarily read and reviewed a copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Creepy and mysterious but still missing that little extra something that would make this novel a gothic suspense. Somerset Park is filled with secrets, lies, and legacies some people would die to protect.

A long build up to an ending that was dramatic and surprisingly sweet. A good fall read with lots of blankets & candles!
Was this review helpful?
A Dreadful Splendor is a story about Jenny Timmons, a fake spiritualist living in 1800s London. She gets roped into preforming a fake séance at a spooky old mansion after the unexpected death of the heiress. I love a good gothic story and thought the spiritualism aspect would be fun!

I thought this book was fine. I got kind of bored about a quarter into the book and really struggled to keep reading. The setting was definitely fun and I liked how Jenny manipulated situations using spiritualistic techniques. I think it could have leaned a little more into the atmosphere of the setting because it was such a fun setup. 

The characters weren't really memorable for me and I had a really hard time keeping the names straight. I kept confusing Mr. Pemberton and Mr. Lockhart and they were VERY different characters! I think this is just a me problem, though. I was kind of expecting the twist at the end but had a good time with it anyway.

Overall, I thought this book was fine and recommend it if you're really into the time period or want a book for spooky season. 2.75 stars rounded up to 3 from me. Thank you to William Morrow Paperbacks and NetGalley for the electronic advanced reader's copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!
Was this review helpful?
Fans of historical fiction will definitely enjoy this!  I really liked the hints of pride and prejudice too! I must say the cover of this book is so beautiful too. This book wasn't on my radar at first, but I am so glad I got a chance to read it.
Was this review helpful?
"A Dreadful Splendor" is different take on the spiritualist novel. In this case, Myers tells us outright that the main character Genevieve Timmons is a fraud. In the Victorian world, there were relatively few ways for a single woman to survive, and Genevieve is doing what she does as a means to an end-making enough money to leave London and settle somewhere new, Coming into contact with the police is an unfortunate side effect of her occupation, and when she's arrested at a seance for attempting to steal some valuable jewelry from her client, Genevieve (or Jenny) believes she's doomed. A chance meeting with an elderly solicitor for a wealthy family gives her the opportunity for an escape by conducting a seance for the recently deceased Lady Audra in exchange for legal representation. Little does she know that nothing at Somerset Park is as it seems, with dark passages and even darker secrets to be revealed. A thoroughly enjoyable read, and one especially well suited for spooky season!
Was this review helpful?
This was a really fun plot, good mystery, you could really sink your teeth into most of it. I mainly didn't understand why the main character, who comes off as a sly and experienced woman of the world, then suddenly became like a surly, immature teen. I thought it was a disservice to her character and that her age didn't really tally with all the things were meant to have happened to her—also the romantic lead being attracted to, you know, a child was a real turn off. I realize Jane Eyre was nineteen and Mr. Rochester 35 but like, it's 2022 now, we all know that's gross!
Was this review helpful?
A little bit of gothic ambience, a little bit of romance, and a lot of twists and turns come together to create an altogether enjoyable read.  Genevieve, a grifting spiritualist, is plucked from a jail cell and promised legal representation if she will conduct a séance to set the soul of a suicidal (murdered?) young bride to rest.   Of course the crumbling country house features a tortured lord of the manor, a dissolute would-be heir, a disapproving housekeeper, and lots of things that go bump and scream in the night.  A well-crafted "what happened" rather than a "whodunnit," that kept me guessing throughout.  A very enjoyable read.  I look forward to more from this author.
Was this review helpful?
This book was absolutely fantastic. I've already added it to our list for order this year and will recommend it to students.
Was this review helpful?
This was an absolutely delightful spooky, murder mystery.  It’s set in one of my favorite settings, a gothic Victorian manor.  There’s ghosts, seances, romance, and of course murder.  If you are a fan of the game Clue you will love this one.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review. OOOH I really enjoyed this book. Genevieve Timmons is a con-spiritualist who is trying to break free from the con life and start fresh somewhere. This works, until she's caught, arrested, and likely facing a hanging. A chance encounter leads to her a lucrative job opportunity that sounds simple...on the surface. Hold a séance that is persuasive enough to ease the broken heart of Mr. Pemberton, and he will win her freedom in court. This sounds easy, but expecting a heartsick, lost lover is not who she encounters. Instead, Mr. Pemberton is seemingly rough around the edges and certain that his fiancée was murdered. He insists that Genevieve will help him solve the murder...or else. 
Myers crafts a *delightfully* Gothic murder mystery brimming with bumps in the night, chills, mysteries, twists and turns, and a well-done plot twist towards the end that had me devouring the pages to finish. I hope Myers writes many more like this!
Was this review helpful?
~Thanks to Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of A Dreadful Splendor in exchange for an honest review. ~

Right out of the gate, love the atmosphere of this book, the author really reinforces the setting with the tone, word choice, characters’ clothing, locations, everything. Then, once we really are into the meat of the mystery, that entire atmosphere gets a creepy, unsettling feeling as the lines between real and paranormal start to blur. It’s infectious and well done. I can certainly see why this is blurbed as a gothic murder mystery.

I really enjoy Genevieve, from our initial introduction to her as a reluctant, fake spiritualist to the secrets we slowly uncover about her. She’s a gray main character you still route for. Once we finally learn of her background, oof, the emotion was definitely there and further reinforced by Genevieve’s predicament at the time.

As for the mystery, well, it started to pick up, but the pacing is still very slow overall. Once we finally start getting “answers,” I, unfortunately, was not surprised once. There was a single reveal that took me off guard, but it didn't play as big a role as I thought it would in the story. The seance, though, that whole scene and reveal did make my jaw drop, but I must admit, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. The twist was shocking, that’s for sure, but I can’t decide if it made sense, nor if it was handled well. There was a certain element I did still guess, however, which made the most shocking aspect even harder to swallow as plausible.

The romance is definitely slow-burn, but Gareth’s feelings about Genevieve seem to change really quickly. I like the banter between them, but I still would like more. I also just don’t think he has much depth, in comparison to Genevieve. Perhaps because we are seeing only from her perspective? In the end, they were cute, but really not the focus. I was gonna be mad salty if we didn’t see them kiss though.

Pacing, overall, is very slow. You push through a lot of character-building and background in the beginning of the book, but I did enjoy that. By the middle, you start getting into the juicer bits, but still, slow-moving until the final climax. The stakes were definitely there at the end and I’ll admit, I started turning pages faster.
Was this review helpful?
I loved the vibe of this book. Gave Jane Austen meets Edgar Allen Poe. The characters were maddening in the most enjoyable way and the atmosphere was immersive.

I really enjoyed the journey and romance of Genevieve and Mr. Pemberton. I am a sucker for the grumpy/grumpy trope and they nailed this perfectly. The exploration of grief in this was also surprising but added a depth that made this gothic tale relatable.
Was this review helpful?
This book has been on my radar for months and I was so excited to start reading it. I planned to read it when I had COVID but I couldn’t focus on anything and I ended up setting it aside and then I sort of forgot about it. Then when I was on my way to Cabo I thought this would be a great book to read on the plane so I picked it up on my way to the airport and was so glad I had it in my bag! I was hooked from the very beginning!

I love gothic tales and ghost stories and this book promised both as well as a little romance. Check, check and check! B. R. Myers is a new to my author but I saw she had written a few other YA books that have received some acclaim for and this book appeared to be her first more adult foray. She tends to write more spooky books from what I could tell when I was researching her and I love spooky reads!

This would probably have been a really good book to read during October, when it’s starting to turn colder and the storms are coming more often but it was still a great read sitting on a beach in Mexico in the 100+ degree weather. I found that it was spooky without being terrifying and I loved all the gothic elements and I certainly hope that Myers continues to write more and more books like this because I would absolutely read them! If you are a fan of gothic lit, you will want this one on your nightstand this fall!


In this spectacularly imaginative and ghoulishly fun Gothic murder mystery brimming with romance, betrayals, and chills, a fake spiritualist is summoned to hold a séance for a bride who died on the eve before her wedding, but as nefarious secrets are revealed, the line between hoax and haunting blurs.

Be careful what you conjure…

In Victorian London, Genevieve Timmons poses as a spiritualist to swindle wealthy mourners–until one misstep lands her in a jail cell awaiting the noose. Then a stranger arrives to make her a peculiar offer. The Lord he serves, Mr. Pemberton, has been inconsolable since the tragic death of his beautiful bride-to-be. If Genevieve can perform a séance persuasive enough to bring the young Lord peace, she will win her freedom.

Soothing a grieving nobleman should be easy for someone of Genevieve’s skill, but when she arrives at the grand Somerset Park estate, Mr. Pemberton is not the heartbroken lover she expected. The surly–yet exceedingly handsome–gentleman is certain that his fiancée was murdered, even though there is no evidence. Only a confession can bring justice now, and Mr. Pemberton decides Genevieve will help him get it. With his knowledge of the household and her talent for illusion, they can stage a haunting so convincing it will coax the killer into the light. However, when frightful incidents befall the manor, Genevieve realizes her tricks aren’t required after all. She may be a fake, but Somerset’s ghost could be all too real…

A Dreadful Splendor is a wickedly whimsical brew of mystery, spooky thrills, and intoxicating romance that makes for an irresistibly fun and page-turning read. (summary from Goodreads)


While I loved the atmosphere and general plot of this book, I struggled with a few aspects of the larger narrative. Jenny was a great character that really brought the whole ‘medium’ plot to life. I loved reading about how she created a ‘presence’ and I liked discovering how and why she got into that profession. However, I don’t’ know that I needed her back story. Without giving much away, at the end of the main plot, we have a couple of chapters about her family and her mom. For me this didn’t really add or impact the larger story. Personally I found it distracting and her character and the story would have stood alone just fine without diving into her history. I would have liked to have just focused on the main story and characters rather than exploring much of the backstory with her mother and the mother’s family.

I also felt like the romance part of this book could easily have been discarded. The chemistry between Jenny and Mr Pemberton was lukewarm at best. I didn’t feel like they had much of a connection beyond employer and employee. Personally I would have liked to have seen less of Jenny’s backstory and more time spent developing the romance parts or just leave it out all together. The story itself was strong enough on its own to be interesting and entertaining for readers. All criticism aside, this was still an excellent book. I loved the plot twists and turns and was surprised to see how things turned out in the end. I loved exploring the family history and secrets as well as the forbidden romance etc. The paranormal elements were fun and enough to give me some spine tingles!

I was going to give it a 5 star rating but the last couple of chapters about Jenny’s life just left me feeling a little blah about that part so I went with a 4 star rating. The ghost story and investigation into what happened to the late mistress of the house was well written, spooky, and interesting. I loved the alternating parts of the main story and the past diary. It really kept things moving along and interesting. Overall I am excited for more books similar to this from Myers and I think historical fiction fans as well as fans of spooky gothic lit will love this one. I would certainly recommend it to my readers!

Book Info and Rating

Paperback, 416 pages

Expected publication: August 23rd 2022 by William Morrow & Company (first published July 12th 2022)

ISBN 0063209837 (ISBN13: 9780063209831)

Free review copy provided by publisher, William Morrow, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.

Rating: 4 stars

Genre: historical fiction, gothic lit
Was this review helpful?
3/5 ✨✨✨

I desperately wanted to love this. Gothic mystery? A fake medoum? Clue adjacent? GHOSTS?  I was so looking forward to seeing how this went down. 

Geneieve Timmons is a thief, a fraud, and a murderer – so the story goes. Arrested and betrayed during her last heist, Jenny has no choice but to take up the offer of one Mr. Lockhart, who says he will represent her in court if she can fake her way into consoling his Lord's broken heart. She agrees, of course, only to realize too late that she has been dragged into a mystery that might just be her end as well. 

Before anything, I want to say that this has all the makings of a fun, cozy mystery. Definitely would recommend this as a beachy read or just something to take down by the fire and fly through in your spare time. It was certainly spooky, and had some very well done tense moments that drew on the creepy atmosphere.  

I love me a spunky, smart-mouthed heroine any day of the week. Geneieve on her own was interesting and I wanted to get to know her story. Unfortunately, the second she lands in Somerset, we lose her in the late Audra's shadow. 

She also mentioned, every single time she saw the love interest, that he was handsome. We know girl, we know. It's okay. 

This book crammed like, four major plot points into the first 12%. I have to admit the Lockhart-Jenny-Pemberton situation gave me whiplash and that wasn't the last time. The pacing, in general, was distracting and it made everything else around it difficult for me to latch on to. 

This wasn't my favorite but I think a lot of people who enjoy light, twisty mysteries will rave about this one. 

My thanks to netgalley and the publisher for granting me this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I have been on a haunted house lit kick lately and this very satisfyingly scratched that itch.

In Victorian England, Genevieve, a jailed fake spiritualist facing the gallows, is unexpectedly bonded out of jail by the solicitor of a wealthy widower. The solicitor offers simple terms for their deal: Genevieve will conduct a convincing fake séance to help the widower find some closure following his wife's apparent suicide, and in return, the solicitor will represent her in court and ensure she gets a fair trial. 

The widower is not what Genevieve expected -- instead of inconsolable grief, he is overcome by a grim determination to find justice for the wife he had barely met or even known, convinced that she didn't commit suicide -- she was murdered.

It seems malevolent forces within the house, specters of evil left behind by generations of his late wife's family, don't want Genevieve to discover their secrets. And this may just be her first séance where something makes itself known.

I love a protagonist who encounters creeping horror and unease and plows ahead anyway, and the twist at the end made this a difficult book to set down. 

Highly recommended for fans of the genre, and for those new to it.
Was this review helpful?
This is a fascinating book about seances and a pretty good mystery. I wish there could be sequels but I am not sure how that would work.
Was this review helpful?
Not what I expected.  I was hoping for a ghost story and what I got was a really long, mystery full of characters I found very nearly unlikable.
Was this review helpful?
Deceiving, Wicked, and Consumable
Man, have investigative murder mysteries been killing it this year! This is a genre I recently came into and have been obsessed with. So far, I've only had one let down but this book was not it. 

Parlor tricks disguised as seances. That is what our main character has been taught since birth and that is what she does to earn her keep. It is her occupation. Although, her mother had taught her it was to console the grieving, not to make out like a bandit. After a seance gone wrong, Genevieve Timmons is arrested for her crimes, yes plural - she is also the prime suspect in a recent death. Jailed and betrayed, her only way out is an agreement made to a stranger offering to be her lawyer, at a price. She must pull off the greatest scheme of her life and console a Lord from a far off estate after his fiance has died. 

Do we not love a morally grey MC? Genevieve is cunning and witty. She has ghosts that trail her conscience and a death sentence awaiting her if she doesn't continue her lies and schemes one last time. I thoroughly enjoyed her. She is far from perfect making it enjoyable to see her struggle with each decision she makes. Even better to see her bloom throughout the book not only for the sake of others but mainly herself. Often times the morally grey characters do that which is deemed "villainous" because of the traumas of their past. They have been sidelined their entire life, making decisions for a mentor or a survival method. Getting to see the progression of character makes it more realistic. It's easier to connect with those character types quicker. 

Throughout the book we (as in the reader and our MC) are constantly questioning every stranger in the estate- their words, actions, and intentions. We are questioning if ghosts really do exist. Is the estate haunted? Best yet! We get multiple POVS. I honestly am not the biggest fan of traditional POV's. I am, however, a fan of the multiple point of views that are one part current affairs and other part journal entry. Every other chapter is Genevieve, then our deceased bride-to-be through journal entry. Chapter by chapter, we get to piece together what happened the night she died. Chapter by chapter we uncover the dark secrets that have haunted the estate for multiple generations. 

Oh, but the romance is wonderful too. You know how there is fantasy and there is romance fantasy? Well, there are gothic mysteries and then there are romantic gothic mysteries. And yes, they are just as good! Imagine the angst of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett or even the Bridgerton series and then give them both a ghostly mystery setting. Delicious. Consumable. 

I did. I devoured it.  It was quick to set. Easy to turn pages. I wanted to figure out the mystery of it all. There was quite a bit going on this book that kept you interested but not overwhelmed. It all revolves around the past- Genevieve and all who have worked and lived on the estate. There is even "prophecy" wound into the pages that gives us a deadly time line. It all just gets so good the more you get into it. It's one giant puzzle with a high stakes pace.  Each character was fantastic and thoroughly served their purpose. The setting of the estate was a perfect dose of creepy. There are half truths that keep it grim. I highly suggest this to anyone who loves a good gothic setting and a mystery to solve. I'm not sure if its just me, my interests changing a bit, or if we are seeing the rise of the Gothic Mystery. I can be sure that they are definitely worthy of it. If I'm right and this genre is about to take off, be sure you get ahead with this one. It sets the pace and you don't want to miss out on it!
4/5 stars
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?