Cover Image: Unquiet


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Unquiet by E Saxey, was a slow read for me. Unfortunately I didn't really connect with the all. I did not connect either the writing style

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The shiver of fear is a key part of horror. Very often we won’t be screaming as we read but that feeling we ger of dread; that things are about o go very very wrong is for me the key aspect of good horror. This sense of things being out of joint is key. In E Saxey’s interesting gothic novel Unquiet we get this feeling explored in many ways to make an interesting and entertaining read that overall I enjoyed.

It’s the winter of 1893 and Judith has finally found a way to live without the rest of her family. Her evening though is interrupted by the unexpected appearance of Sam her sister’s fiancé crashing into the garden pond. He has no idea where he has been. Judith though is amazed as he vanished in an unusual river accident many months ago and has been assumed dead. Sam is reluctant to tell anyone he is back, so Judith quietly tries to work out what has happened, but many many secrets are finally coming to the surface.

I’ve had a mixed reaction to this tale but overall, I think this is a first novel by a very promising author with lots of great ideas but perhaps not quite enough to truly wow me. What Saxey delivers in spades is that sense of the uncanny and some really interesting characters. This is a story of ambiguity - Judith isn’t quite the person she wants people to think she is; her household is both rich and also struggling for cash and with Sam he is both alive and dead at the same time. Everything in the story can be read in two ways rationally or perhaps supernaturally. Each core scene makes the reader think something isn’t quite right here and with Judith we must unpick things.

With Judith we have a complex character from a wealthy yet now struggling family and she wants very much to be an artist in a world where such a skill for women is often looked down upon. She is both independent and also quiet inexperienced living on her own (and by that, I mean managing the rebellious servants). With Sam we have someone charming and yet frustratingly wants everything his own way. Judith, we find is quietly attracted to him and that may colour her judgement of what is the right thing to do and there is just a rising feeling of something else adding to a stranger conclusion. What though was a bit of the struggle is the pace for a fairly short novel is quite slow. It meanders and while a fast-paced tale would have destroyed the atmosphere this tale feels more loosely connected scenes rather than a full-length novel and that slightly reduces the tension as it ebbs and flows rather than built up.

Overall, I did enjoy this interesting tale and I am very interested in what stories Saxey may have to share with us in the future. A promising novel that I think will work for a cold winter evening with the lights turned low. Worth a look!

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What an excellent, tightly written ghost story! The rich characterization pulled me in and the complex relationships and tense vibes kept me hooked until the end. Sam was a truly repulsive character, so the fact that I could still absolutely sympathize with Judith's many feelings for him was a testament to the author's skillful navigation of his charm. I also loved the significant role of Judith's Jewish heritage throughout.

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Is it only the dead that are Unquiet? It is the obvious usage here, as the Victorian Gothic tickboxes are checked off. Empty mansion except for a surly maid; recent death of significant menfolk, mysterious lights going on and off; and don't forget a busybody vicar in the parish. Not that our heroine needs a vicar, she is Jewish though the book does an awful lot less with that than I expected - though her name Judith is a constant reminder. But she is a solitary presence, making up her own occult rituals to pass the time, dilettante at art and succumbing to all the introspection you can fit in a gossamer nightie. And then that dead brother-in-law, presumed drowned in a swollen river, pops up suggesting he had amnesia. But, also he doesn't want Judith to tell anyone he's alive.

Because this is saturated in the Gothic sensibility, no matter how much Judith investigates Sam's whereabouts the eventual conclusion remains on the the table throughout. The book is structured in a rigidly chronological way, day by day for a week, and there are moments when you know there will be some late-night shenanigans because the chapter isn't long enough. It does go around in circles too, with the neighbouring house, and the issues with the maid, though some of these are eventually satisfactorily resolved.

I've fallen out of love with gothic novels a bit recently, and there is little in the way of subversion of tropes here. It ran a bit long and too introspective for my tastes and held few surprises in ist final passages. The lead did have a strong voice, and it certainly delivers good gothic, but felt like one for the purists.

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I was loving this book so much up until we got to the third act. Then, by the time we got to the end, I wanted to throw my Kindle across the room. I felt I had invested so much time and patience in this book that had gone from eerie, macabre, dark, and fascinating to scrabbling and messy and then it just slammed headlong into, “What the heck was that?”, and a general feeling that I had just wasted a great many hours of my time.

I love a good gothic horror mystery. I love good folk horror, and Jewish folklore is filled with some good material. I loved the premise of this book, and E. Saxey started this book out well! I was a happy little mouse, ensconced with Judith (our protagonist) as she stays alone (without a chaperone!) to grieve the loss of her sister’s fiance alone while her sister, mother, and her fiance’s brother are touring Italy together (they are, of course, under the assumption she has a chaperone, which is a con she set up herself so she could have the house and its quiet to herself). Sam, her sister’s fiance, perished roughly a year ago in an accident at a village festival when he fell and drowned in a river, though his body was never recovered.

Judith and her sister, Ruth, are big on rituals and harmless, made-up magic. Their father raised them on the folktales and mythology of England and fairy tales of the west when they first came to London. While their mother is selfish and cared not for much beyond wealth and their large house, their father spoiled them with pre-Raphaelite paintings, dresses straight out of middle ages so they could swan about like princesses, and a grand garden with a lake suited for two girls who wanted nothing more than to read about Lancelot and Guinevere or the Lady of Shalott. They were good Jewish girls, of course, until after their father died and they started keeping company with their new neighbors, Sam and Toby, and their mother never bothered to ensure her daughters’ reputations were kept secure. Ruth saw Sam as a sign that her prince had finally come. If only that had been true.

The first two acts of the book are filled with rituals, dread, fear, mystery, doubt, isolation, darkness, cold, feelings of wrong, rot, and decay. The feelings of being pushed, invaded, taken advantage of; but also the feelings of wanting to help but because you’re selfish, because you want, because you’re in the position to take.

Then, in the third act, it just starts to fall apart. Judith’s excuses for her actions fall thin and I lost my patience with her as a reader. The mystery has essentially been solved and yet she keeps hesitating to do the right thing. It feels like the book should be over and what hasn’t been resolved I had already guessed. The ending just unravels like a poorly-woven sweater, without any control to it. Then, the book just ends. No resolution. No denouement. It was like walking into a brick wall. I don’t know why E. Saxey chose that ending, but in my opinion it wasn't a fit ending for the book and it was a very poor choice. This review would’ve easily been a four star review without that ending.

I hope you like it better than I did.

I was provided a copy of this title by NetGalley and the author. All thoughts, opinions, views, and ideas expressed herein are mine and mine alone. Per personal policy this review will not appear on any social media or bookseller websites due to receiving a three star or lower rating.

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Unquiet appears at first glance to be nuanced within the framework of the Victorian Gothic but its subtle visions hide a darkness full of lurking fear.
Judith Sachs, a young Jewish woman, is at peril, hardly able to clutch of the proprieties expected of her, she has a man hidden in her home. Is she slowly going mad?
Sam Silver is the boy from next door, once engaged to marry Judith's sister, and now very probably back from the dead.
The author pays homage to the tropes of the genre throwing in a mud bride, a golem, and rites of fertility and fire. I was particularly gripped by the character of the lonely village priest, clinging to the tatters of his faith and turning a blind eye to his pagan neighbours.
A superb evocation of creeping terror.

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This one is more of a slow paced gothic horror - set in London 1893, Judith is mourning her brother-in-law who drowned a year earlier, but one evening, he reappears. Alive. He has no recollection of the previous year, so Judith sets off to investigate what happened to him, but there are many dark secrets to be uncovered. I loved the writing in this book - a very quiet, subtle creepiness with beautiful prose and plenty of gothic vibes. It’s definitely a slow burn, as with most gothic horrors, but it is filled with secrets and drama that will keep you turning the pages.

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I was given a copy to review by Titan Books and Netgalley. My reviews are always honest and all opinions are my own. #ARCReview #Netgalley #Unquiet #ESaxey #TitanBooks #GothicFiction #GothicHorror

It’s been a while since I have read a modern novel that has captured the gothic nature of Victorian, well, gothic novels but Unquiet does just that and also makes it its own. Set in London in 1893 we meet Judith who is living a solitary life in the family home save for the maid who haunts it. Still in mourning for the death of her soon to be brother-in-law a year prior she busies herself with art classes, books and strange rituals whilst the rest of the family travel the world.
This is until one icy evening, conducting such a ritual in her garden she discovers Sam, alive albeit muddy and with no memory of the year he has missed or the accident that appeared to take his life. A deal is made that she will keep his reappearance a secret until she can discover the truth about what truly happened to him. Judith’s quest for truth takes her outside of the West London Jewish community she calls home and to the scene of Sam’s accident but there are secrets waiting there for Judith, things that have laid dormant for so long and if she must uncover them all then she may have to admit to truths that she has been keeping herself.

Saxey creates a wonderfully dark and gothic atmosphere in Unquiet and pairs this with an heroine who is hard not to love. Nearing the turn of the century Judith is a new woman of the age as it were, pushing boundaries for herself and it was wonderful to follow her quest to seek answers to the mystery of Sam’s reappearance. I particularly liked the inclusion of the Jewish elements and community that were explored within the novel was well. Although the cast of characters is a small one each is well rounded, fleshed out and given their own voice and place in the narrative. But as I say my favourite was Judith.

I also loved the writing style that was perfect at building the atmosphere and tension in the novel. Plus the structure was unique told in days rather than ‘chapters’ as it were it really heightened the narrative showing how quickly or perhaps slowly Judith’s search was progressing. The setting itself captured the time and location perfectly. It really was like being transported back in time to London. I honestly adored this one and will definitely pick up a physical copy as well.

If you are a fan of gothic tales, strong heroines and atmospheric horror this one will give you all that a more. I think it safe to say Saxey has become an instant buy author from this entry alone.

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Unquiet by E. Saxey was really well done in the horror genre, I really enjoyed how good the Victorian London elements were. It reminded me a lot of Haunting of Hill Houses and does it’s own thing. The story was beautifully done and I’m glad I got to read this.

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Judith has been home alone for four months while the rest of her family has gone to Italy, all to try and desperately get over the death of her soon-to-be brother-in-law. One evening she finds him in their garden all muddy with no memory of the accident or where he's been all this time.

Without the usual tropes of Gothic literature this does have all the expected atmosphere. The book takes place in the late 1800s and Judith is written very well as a modern girl of the times who pushes the envelope but still must meet the restrictions of the era. Other characters are mentioned but Judith and Sam are the main two characters with a small supporting cast. Judith reveals many secrets as she tries to uncover Sam's recent past and while not shocking they twist the plot around. A nice book with a dark, heavy atmosphere that I enjoyed but didn't love.

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A young woman discovers her long-thought dead brother-in-law in her garden and sets about unravelling the mysterious circumstances of his disappearance in this gripping and unsettling
Victorian gothic horror, perfect for fans of Shirley Jackson and Sarah Waters. London 1893. Judith has been living alone in her family home for four months, the rest of her family travelling around the world whilst she tries desperately to get over the death of Sam, her brother-in-law, who drowned in an accident a year ago. One icy evening, she discovers Sam, alive, in the garden. He has no memory of the past year, and remembers little of the accident that appeared to take his life. Desperate to keep his reappearance a secret until she can discover the truth about what happened to him, Judith journeys to the scene of Sam's accident, only to unearth secrets she never thought she would find.

This was unexpectedly brilliant! Dark, mysterious and gothic it had a great atmosphere, interesting characters and I couldn’t put it down as I was dying to know the full story
The writer builds up atmosphere and mystery in such a great way that I was totally engrossed from start to finish
Highly recommend!

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