I wasn’t sure what I would be getting out of this book since I hadn’t realized this was an author I had read before (her YA sci-fi) and didn’t like much, but I’m also glad I requested before knowing because I liked this one a lot! So much so, I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish because I needed to know what would happen!
The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Genevieve Timmons. If you ask some they would say that she is a con-artist, a murderer, and a thief. Those things made her that much more interesting because I needed to know the background of those accusations. Two of them come rather quickly as we are thrown into her games, a séance.
I think that Genevieve got a bad rep that wasn’t entirely warranted. She was just trying to survive and using what she learned from her mother to stay afloat. It was fun to see her work and use what she learned from others through body language to continue on with the charade. She also becomes a detective later on in the book when things get quite sketchy at the Somerset Park estate.
Before some chapters start there are journal entries written by Lady Audra, the dead bride-to-be. They were very enlightening while trying to figure out who the culprit was. There were a lot of secrets she knew and they just kept coming the farther you get in the book!
My favorite part of this book was definitely the mystery. It was thrilling and definitely kept me reading as new things came to light. The séances were an added bonus and added to the gothic feel the book was going for. My least favorite would have to be the romance. It wasn’t terrible and does fit the genre, but it just didn’t give me enough for my taste.
Overall, this was a fun and exciting read. I liked getting to know the characters and the secrets that they kept. The mystery was good and had me guessing all the way up until the end.
A DREADFUL SPLENDOR is a Gothic murder mystery that I absolutely could not put down, I fell in love with its main character immediately-- a young spiritualist who makes her living performing fake seances for the wealthy. When she gets caught in the act she is given a choice-- the gallows, or one last seance for the widower of a young heiress who died under mysterious circumstances. As the boundaries between performance and reality begin to dissolve, our spiritualist begins to wander if the ghost she is here to contact....might actually exist? This book provides some real scares but also possesses a warm and witty humor, a fine line that Myers walks effortlessly. So well done, and so much fun.
Genevieve Timmons poses as a spiritualist to steal from the wealthy - until she gets caught. Bail is posted by an elderly man asking for her help, pose the perfect séance to heal The Lord he serves cope with the death of his bride. Yet when she arrives at the manor, Mr. Pemberton is not the grieving widower she expected. He recruits her for his own mission, stage a seance to catch the murderer of his bride.
A fantastic gothic mystery, full of secrets, surprises and spooky energy.
Thank you to William Morrow and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
A Dreadful Splendor by B.R. Myers is a gothic murder mystery with plenty of humor. The story revolves around Genevieve, a down-on-her-luck woman who makes money by pretending to speak to wealthy patron's dead relatives. One night, as she's in jail, she receives a mysterious offer. She will enter a gothic manor and conduct a fake seance for the lord's dead wife. But when she arrives, the lord, Mr. Pemberton, is not what she expected. He believes that his ex-wife was murdered, and he needs Genevieve's help to prove it!
Here is a captivating excerpt from Chapter 1:
"“It’s good you’ve finally summoned me,” I said. “There’s no doubt a spirit torments this house.”
Each grief-stricken face turned my way. I stood in the parlour doorway, gripping the handle of my case. Despite the blaze of the fireplace and the richly upholstered furnishings, there was no sense of comfort. The heavy drapes were closed, shrouding the room in darkness. The funeral bouquets had begun to wilt, but their scent remained strong, saturating the air with a tired misery.
The matriarch, Mrs. Hartford, sat beside the ornate fireplace. The flames flickered, casting shadows that stretched up the walls like gossamer spirits. A sheer black veil obscured her face, leaving only her chin exposed. Even from across the room I could see a few wisps of white hair. Just like Billy Goat Gruff, Miss Crane would say."
Overall, A Dreadful Splendor would make the perfect gift for the mystery-lover in your life! I'm sure it will appeal to fans of Knives Out or Agatha Christie. One highlight of this book is the super interesting premise. I usually skim the beginnings of mysteries, but this book had me absolutely hooked from the beginning, and I didn't want to miss anything. Another highlight of this book are the many secrets and mysteries that the characters are hiding from each other. This book was probably the most enjoyable mystery that I've read this year! If you're intrigued by the excerpt above, or if you're a fan of murder mysteries in general, you won't regret checking out this book when it comes out in August!
i really enjoyed this book!! it was so much fun to read, especially in the summertime!! thank you so much to netgalley for letting me read this one early!!!
In order to escape from Miss Crane’s ‘boardinghouse’, Jenny is doing one last seance. When the police catch her in the act of stealing jewelry from the participants, she is sent to jail. Lucky for her, a Mr. Lockhart is seeking someone with her exact qualifications. He’s hoping that her performance will help his master, Mr. Pemberton, be at peace with the death of his fiance. Mr. Lockhart wants her emphatic assurances of eternal rest so Mr. Pemberton will let go of his search for a murderer, and the household can get back to normal. However, Mr. Lockhart doesn’t factor in Mr. Pemberton’s own agenda, or the previous claim laid on the land, or the ambition found elsewhere in the house. Jenny has to solve the death of the lady of the house if she is to be free before she is the next victim.
Letters from the deceased and inexplicable occurrences create a gothic 19th century story laced with mystery and romance. Many will guess the outcome; few will be correct. There are as many twists and turns in this one as there are in a dungeon under a castle. Wordy but well worth the time.
This book is my new obsession.
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, Lady Audra Linwood. If Genevieve can perform a séance persuasive enough to bring the young Lord peace, she will win her freedom. However, when she arrives at the grand Somerset Park estate, Mr. Pemberton is not the heartbroken, grieving fiancé 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.
This book is the gothic book of my dreams. It reads like a combination of Rebecca and a game of clue in the best way. I devoured this book in two days, it was that good. B. R. Myers did an exceptional job with stacking the cast with suspects around every corner. As I was reading, I was sure I knew who the killer was and then ten pages later I was positive it was another person entirely. Genevieve was a compelling main character and narrator. You really connect with her early on and even though she seems unreliable, you continue to root for her throughout the entire book. The book packs several twists that I didn't see coming at all. I honestly audibly gasped at times. The final reveal and confrontation was a masterclass in suspense that had me on the edge of my seat until the very end.
I'm not usually a fan of supernatural elements in mystery novels, but with this one, it just works. It adds that small touch of dread as you watch Genevieve trying to figure out if someone or something is truly haunting Somerset Park, despite not believing in spirits herself. Her budding relationship with Mr. Pemberton was also exciting to witness. Thiers is a slow burn, but the fact that they are working together to avenge a murder, it makes sense.
I can't wait to read what B.R. Myers writes next!
A slow burn romance, a mystery, lies and deceit! This book had everything I was looking for and more! I really enjoyed this read, from beginning to end I was on the edge of my seat and wanting more. Quick read for me, read it in 1 sitting and want more!!! For fans of slow burn romances and murder mysteries!
Thank you NetGalley and William Morrow Paperbacks for access to this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Fun twisty tale with some supernatural and romance elements. Life is tough for a spiritualist, Genevieve, in Victorian London. She sometimes has to steal and runs afoul of the law. When an escape to a country estate where she is to use her skills to help a grieving landowner presents itself she is all in. But things aren’t quite as they seem. The house contains a cast of interesting character and the ghost of the dead wife. How will the seance play out - with a nice twisty ending perhaps.?
Life is hard for a medium. It’s even harder when the medium’s landlady is blackmailing said medium in order to get her to steal from her wealthy clients. Although Genevieve Timmons is a natural at cold-reading and getting clients to believe that she can communicate with the dead, she is not at all talented in theft. In the opening pages of B.R. Myers’s delightful A Dreadful Splendor, Genevieve is caught red-handed and thrown in a London jail. The only way out comes in the form of a curious offer from an elderly lawyer. He can get her out, he says, but only if she can use her mediumistic skills to help his employer get over the grief of losing a fiancee.
It’s a lot to take in but Myers barely gives us or Genevieve a chance to catch our breaths before whisking us away to an estate in northern England that could almost challenge Manderley, Thrushcross Grange, or Thornfield Hall for moody dampness. (If you recognize those place names, you’ll probably also pick up on hints of Rebecca, Wuthering Heights, and Jane Eyre scattered around A Dreadful Splendor. Thankfully, those references and vibes are merely seasonings in this entertaining and original story.) Genevieve meets the master of the house under inauspicious circumstances on her very first night at Somerset Park and is dragooned into yet another plot. Gareth Pemberton still wants Genevieve to hold a seance but, this time, he wants her to use her cold-reading skills to get his fiancee’s killer to confess.
Genevieve is a wonderful amateur detective. Normally I get annoyed at these kinds of characters because they’re often written to be instant experts at forensics or interrogation or something; I don’t find it believable when a chef or a bookstore owner suddenly becomes a master detective. Genevieve I can believe. She was brought up to notice things and use her observations to manipulate her target’s emotions. She’s also learned to hide what she can do under the cover of the supernatural—which turns out to be very effective against the superstitious or those with guilty consciences. Because Genevieve is under orders from both her lawyer-rescuer, Mr. Lockhart, and Pemberton, she has to dance as fast as she can to keep her secrets.
The pace set in the first chapters never slackens. In fact, the twists start coming hard and heavy after Genevieve is pushed into detective duty. And there are definite signs that nefarious things are afoot at Somerset Park, from the hints about the terrifying family history to the voices in the walls to the creepy housekeeper. A Dreadful Splendor isn’t all mystery and horror, however. Genevieve and Mr. Pemberton start to spark almost immediately. Watching these two verbally spar with each other was as much fun as trying to figure out what on earth is going on at Somerset Park and what really happened to the lamented fiancee. This book was an absolute pleasure to read.
Very atmospheric and spooky. I enjoyed it as it had fantasy elements (spirits, curses, etc) but was not a fantasy novel. A satisfying ending. I enjoy books set in this time period and also ones about family secrets in big fancy houses, so this checked all the boxes for me. I would recommend to anyone who liked historical fiction, mysteries and a light scary novels.
My Nancy Drew loving heart is absolutely so full after finishing A Dreadful Splendor! The CW's Nancy Drew. Specifically, season 1 vibes. iykyk. But let's be honest. (Especially because nobody in this book knows how be.) I was always going to pick up this book up because B.R. Myers is one of my all-time favorite authors.
Genevieve Timmons is a spiritualist struggling to survive in the 1850s of Victorian London. A job gone wrong leads to her being summoned to hold a séance for a bride who died on the eve before her wedding. But for someone who can speak to dead, the line between what's real and not real aren't always so clear.
A Dreadful Splendor is a hauntingly gothic atmospheric murder mystery. Those are not my usual genres to read. And it took me a little bit to get into the story. But before I realized it, I was sucked in this universe that I could completely picture in my mind. I read and finished the last sixty(ish) percent in a single afternoon. I didn't want the book to end but I kept flipping pages to find out 'whodunit'. Everytime I thought I had figured out the murderer, I was wrong. Of course, there are betrayals, shocking twists, and a little romance along the way. And now I'm left with a terrible but delicious book hangover.
(Quote) Death had been courting me all my life; I was ready to accept him with open arms. I didn’t know how to waltz, but I would dance with death tonight. (Quote) EMILY DICKINSON VIBES JJSSKSK
If you love a good rainy day Gothic murder mystery, Nancy Drew, Clue, Dickinson, the movie Redeeming Love, or Truly Devious then I highly recommend picking up A Dreadful Spelendor.
***Thank you to William Morrow Paperbacks and Netgalley for providing me with a review copy.***
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me the opportunity to read and review this novel. I am rating this book based the stars due to lack of time to leave a full review.
The gorgeous cover and intriguing description for this book really drew me in, but unfortunately, it wasn’t a win for me.
I didn’t connect with the characters and it took a long time for the story’s pace to pick up; it was hard for me to stay focused and engaged and I didn’t feel very invested in the plot. I wanted so badly to love this! However, I think that the writing style and character development still felt a little too YA for me rather than an adult debut.
I think that while this is officially categorized as an adult read, it would do very well with a YA audience.
A gothic murder mystery involving the murdered fiancee of a grumpy lord and the spiritualist hired to deceive him. Genevieve “Jenny” Timmons is a spiritualist, making money by swindling wealthy mourners. She’s still grieving the death of her mother and is in desperate need of money to run away from her current situation... but one too many attempts has landed her in on the way to the gallows... except a mysterious stranger bails her out of prison and gives her an offer : if she helps trick or bring peace to the lord of Somerset Park , Mr. Pemberton, who is grieving the death of his beautiful fiancee and is convinced her tragic suicide is actually a murder, then the stranger, turned out lawyer, will help clear Genevieve out of her charges. Yet upon arrival at the estate Genevieve senses something is off. This beautiful gothic place has many dark secrets and ghosts hiding in it... When Mr. Pemberton catches onto Genevieve he proposes a new deal, if she helps him find the murderer of his fiancee through a seance performance he will make sure she isn’t arrested. Gareth Pemberton is grumpy, stubborn, and cold.... and he isn’t as heartbroken as Genevieve was lead to believe, rather he is determined to find out what is actually happening in his estate and who is responsible for the murder. The more Genevieve looks into the mystery the more she feels like she might actually be seeing the ghosts of the former fiancee and more strange things are happening around the estate... strange messages are appearing... and everyone is under suspicion as to who the killer truly is. The more Genevieve and Gareth spend time together trying to solve this mystery the more they realize that they might not be so different after all and that they truly understand one another. Filled with mystery, romance, and fantastic plot twist, this was one heck of a gothic murder mystery! It truly had me guessing at who it was, I had two possible guesses and the first one didn’t pan out but the second did ( and oh boy was it fantastic when it was revealed)! It’s the perfect mixture of ghost murder mystery and enemies to lovers romance between two people who are completely different. I would highly recommend this for mystery and romance lovers alike!
*Thanks Netgalley and William Morrow, William Morrow Paperbacks for sending me an arc in exchange for an honest review*
There's been a bit of a trend recently of books about women who pretend to be psychic mediums. I'm really enjoying it, especially when the line between pretend spirits and real ones gets blurred. This was a good murder mystery, with several suspects and reveals that threw me off the trail. The setting was perfect, Victorian England in an old, kind of creepy estate. I definitely felt the atmosphere in this one and it was an overall fun read.
I loved how the mystery played out and the fact that I didn't guess the ending was great. The author really did a good job of laying groundwork and then sweeping the rug out from under the reader. The only downside for me was that it felt slow, like the story should have been months instead of a week. This is because we get diary excerpts spanning years, plus Genevieve's backstory of growing up and learning to be a fake medium. I know these parts were important to the plot, but they really slowed down the excitement and maybe could have been trimmed.
I flew through this one and had a great time reading. I definitely recommend this one!
I voluntarily read and reviewed this book. All opinions are my own. Thank you to NetGalley and William Morrow for the copy.
Genevieve Timmons is a spiritualist who provides peace for the mourning people who call on her. Her side business? Robbing the people who call on her so that she can keep herself afloat. When Genevieve’s luck finally runs out, she’s caught red handed as she tries to flee her latest job and finds herself in jail waiting for the gallows. Thankfully, a dying lawyer has offered her freedom in exchange for duping a mourning man into believing his late fiancée is at peace. The only problem is that Mr. Pemberton knows she can’t speak to the spirits, but he does strike a separate deal with her. If Genevieve uses her séance to guilt the person who killed his late fiancée to come clean, he won’t have her arrested for trying to steal from his home.
When I picked up this book, I was not expecting the wild ride that I was in for. We follow Genevieve, a spiritualist who learned everything she knows from her late mother. Spiritualism is hard to get by on, so she’s resorted to stealing so that she isn’t forced to become a lady of the night under her landlord. Watching her unravel a murder mystery at Mr. Pemberton’s seems like it’d be a pretty clear case at first, but that is not the case at all. I had some theories that were totally wrong, but was it fun? Absolutely!
There’s a diary entry from the late Audry between each chapter, which gives us a glimpse into her life. Genevieve believes that Audry killed herself the night before the wedding, and she’s not the only one who thinks that. However, Mr. Pemberton and others believe that she was murdered. I was with Genevieve at first, but the longer that I read the book, the more questions arose and it became clear that not everything was as it appeared. My theories on the matter weren’t on the right track, but when everything was revealed, it certainly made a lot of sense.
One of my favorite parts of the book is watching Genevieve battle with herself about whether or not ghosts are real. At first, it appears that someone is purposely trying to spook her, but then she starts to question if Audry’s spirit is actually trying to contact her. It was so much fun to watch her go back and forth as she faced the possibility that she may be making contact with a spirit for the first time despite not believing in the possibility.
While the plot is a wild read, there are quite a few characters and different plots. Other than Genevieve and Mr. Pembrum, there’s several characters who pop in and out. One of my favorites is Flora, who is a cheerful and naïve member of the staff that Genevieve cozies up to. Through her, we learn a lot of facts as well as the most recent gossip as it happens. There’s also a couple romance plots, and one is a very slow burn that’s not obvious until the pair continue to get to know each other.
All in all, it was a wonderful read and it makes me excited to check out the author’s other works.
I went into this book cold. I mean, look at that cover. I've been living my life with accents of "skull damask" for months now, HOW COULD I NOT?!
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It lives up to that stunning display of macabre and intrigue. If you're looking for a title to sit alongside Within These Wicked Walls, Veronica Speedwell, Mexican Gothic, or even your favorite Lucy Foley mystery, but even more gothic, this is it.
This whodunnit or locked room mystery is surprisingly spooky. Filled with the hauntings of a mad woman, lamentations of love lost too soon, and forbidden romance, Myers doesn't shy away from her character's teeth.
Genevieve Timmons is an MC we can all aspire to be. She's clever, brave, resourceful, and a victim of her own heart. Whether following love or compassion, every turn is thrilling. When this Victoria murder mystery turns more gothic and more haunting, it's hard to put down... until the very last twist!
*thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me a free copy of this book for an honest review*
This book wasn't what I was expecting. It isn't particularly heavy on the historical details, reads much more as a YA than adult, and was a bit spookier than anticipated. The romance wasn't as much a part of the plot as it seemed based on the summary. All of this meant I wasn't really the audience for this one, but I can see how it would be a great read for those who enjoy YA (or NA) historical mysteries so I am rating based on that rather than my own subjective feelings.
This was fun read. It starts with one of my absolute favorite tropes: One Last Job. The job should be easy, open and shut and then the criminal, in this case spiritualist/conman Genevieve Timmons, can take her nest egg, get out of town, and live a quiet life in the country or on the beach or whatever. But it is never easy. That last job could cost Genevieve everything, from her money to her freedom to her heart to her life.
It has everything you could want from a historical mystery. It's a locked-room cold-case set on a grand estate full of vicious servants, haunted portraits, and rumors of a family curse. Rather than a constable or private investigator, the detective on the case is the spiritualist Genevieve Timmons. That is, Miss Timmons is a woman who earns a living by conning rich people into believing she can speak with the spirits of their dearly departed. And if she wants to avoid prison, or worse, the gallows for her years of charlatanism, she must help the Lord Chadwick discover what really happened to his late bride-to-be.
This book is full of twists, and just when you think you've got it, another piece of evidence is revealed turning the whole case on it's head. I totally fell for the red herrings, but the whole mystery made perfect sense once it was explained, by the perpetrator, in a dramatic monologue. It's an excellently crafted story, and i would highly recommend it to anyone who likes a historical mystery.
My only gripe is that I don't think it needed the romance element. That may sound strange coming from me, as I am known to love romance and be able to see a love story in just about everything, but I think that Genevieve's romantic love plot distracted from the rest of the book. Her budding relationship with the young Lord (because who else could it be), detracts from the themes of grief and learning to no blame yourself for the actions of others. It also messes with the pacing of the book, as I felt that a good chunk of the book very close to the tense ending was spent developing their relationship rather than developing the mystery.