Cover Image: The Cruel Dark

The Cruel Dark

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This books keeps you guessing until last chapters, when we finally after a crazy twist we find out more.

Was this review helpful?

First off, I’d like to thank NetGalley for letting me read this book early, and thank Bea Northwick for writing this!

Second; wow! This book was very good, mwah! I loved it a lot; it was certainly more of a historical mystery with a little bit of romance, so if anything, I’d have maybe preferred more romance but that’s just because I’m a romance girlie!

It was very well written and I loved the story! Easily a four star book for me.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to Netgalley and Bea Northwick for allowing me to read and review.

Ho-ly. That ending.

Millicent Foxboro gets a job offer to work as Professor Hughes' assistant at Willowfield. But all is not right at Willowfield. There are secrets at every corner and secrets of her own. Can she solve the the mysterious Mrs. Hughes death and come to terms with her secrets before it's too late?

This book definitely makes you feel like you're on edge the whole time. You know something is not right but you aren't sure what it is. I was in the ballpark but I did not expect the ending to be what it was. Very pleased with how it ended though. A definite recommend.

Was this review helpful?

The Cruel Dark is a magically intense book with so many fun twists and turns while also being gorgeously gothic!

Was this review helpful?

This book really surprised me with how great it is! Ghost stories scare me and I was worried I wouldn't be able to finish but honestly I couldn't put it down.

Smutty, Folklore, work place romance, husband and wife romance and mystery all tied in together and it's a great mix!

Was this review helpful?

An absolutely stunning debut novel! I had high hopes for this as I am a huge fan of Crimson Peak, Jane Eyre, and Mexican Gothic, and Bea Northwick utterly obliterated my expectations, making The Cruel Dark one of my absolute favorite books of 2023.

Ghosts, madness, Willowfield in all its decaying glory, Irish lore and mention of fae folk, and an ensemble of characters that range from endearing to unsettling (and some a combination thereof), all make for a sumptuous gothic setting for our main character Millie to wade through.

Mysteries abound, not only all around the halls and grounds of Willowfield, but draping around Millie herself like a shawl. The horrors begin with her history and the fate of her parents, setting a tone of unease from the start of the book. The Cruel Dark enveloped me in a spine-tingling embrace. While I had inklings and suspicions of a twist, it wasn't obvious as I constantly questioned myself, setting myself up to be blindsided by another more sinister twist to come. I will absolutely be rereading this book again and again.

Was this review helpful?

This was catnip for any historical romance reader! The writing was beautiful and the twist at the end was SO good. Look forward to more from this author

Was this review helpful?

Great debut novel! I instantly felt compassion for the FMC from the beginning. The 1920s setting was perfect in that women still had few options in terms of jobs but it was still a time of exploration and free spiritedness. Her character did feel like it went through a few shifts though. She seemed to start off very quiet and insecure to becoming more fiery in temperament as she spent more time in the mansion. The house was a perfect setting as well. The darkness that most light couldn’t reach and the long winter nights, perfectly amped up the creepiness and horror of the visions Millie begins seeing. The description of the woman skittering across the floor on all fours was quite the disturbing vision. Our MMC was mysterious but you also felt empathetic to him as the story progresses. At times, his sexual aggression to Millie seemed a bit much that it made one question his motives. Yet, the surprise ending helps explain so much. I usually can see twists coming a mile away, and this story’s twist pleasantly surprised me. Talented female writer who I am looking forward to reading more of in the future!
Thank you to #netgalley for the opportunity to read this engrossing book!

Was this review helpful?

I have to admit for the first 60 percent or so of the book I was thoroughly confused, but continued on as the writing was lyrical and the setting just as enigmatic as the owner of Willowfield. Our main character Millie was lost, anxious, and stubborn and comes to find herself frustrated and enthralled with reclusive Professor Callum Hughes. Their relationship felt very fast paced at first but came to make sense as the story went on even though I wish I could've seen more on page chemistry of them falling in love. It felt very insta lovey (but my feelings changed by the end). Aside from this I was intrigued by whether or not there truly were ghosts haunting Millie and trying to piece together the tiny breadcrumbs the story left behind for the twist. That twist! It was multiple twists in one and simultaneously made me scream and cry. I was so emotional by the end. This was a truly fantastic Gothic Horror Romance that kept me on the edge of my seat and kicking my feet. Thank you to NetGalley and Bea Northwick for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Was this review helpful?

This is a gothic historical fiction romance, set in the 1920s. It has all the elements of each of these genes plus a nice plot twist at the end! A bit Bronte-esque with spice, this will have a very broad appeal to different readers.

Was this review helpful?

"Wow, wow, wow! That was a good book!" I exclaimed to my corgi. It fell on deaf ears then, but I pray it doesn't now.

The year is 1928, and Millie (the FMC) has travelled to the Willowfield estate to work as an assistant to Professor Callum Hughes (the MMC).

When she arrives, she finds that the place is falling apart and everyone keeps telling her she shouldn't be there because the place is haunted. But either way, have a good sleep, bestie! 💞💞💞

The set up in this book was fantastic and was paced really well. Millie and Callum's relationship was a sexy, sexy slow burn and you couldn't help but feel happy for them once he stopped being a mysterious grump.

🌶️🌶️.5 /5

✨ Slow burn romance ❤️
✨ Things that go bump in the night 👻
✨ Mental health representation ❤️‍🩹

The last chunk of the book moves incredibly fast, but never feels rushed. You're stumbling along just as Millie is - trying to figure out what in the hell is happening. This house is uber spooky and there are, in fact, some ghosts in here...right?! Right?!

The twist and the ultimate reveal had my heart racing. This will definitely be a re-read for me!

* Thank you to NetGalley for my eARC in exchange for my honest review *

Was this review helpful?

The cruel dark lifted a hand and held my head until the end. It was so consuming, it was amazing. The twist really gets you, it is so well written. My gothic heart is lifting in joy to have had the chance to spend a day in this world.

Was this review helpful?

So, I stepped into this thriller world, a bit out of my usual romantasy zone, but man, was it a ride! The story's dark twist got me hooked, even though it took a bit to get going. Once it did, though, it was like a rollercoaster—I couldn't put the book down!

The characters? They felt real, with enough mystery to keep me curious. Unraveling their secrets became my thing, and the ending? Totally unexpected. And Millie? I loved her, and the banter with Callum? Chef's kiss. Happy it all wrapped up the way it did. Big thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for letting me dive into this ARC. This book was a blast, and I'm so glad I got to read it!

Was this review helpful?

3.5 stars rounded up here! Tbh unfortunately I think this wonderful book suffered from being read right after I finished Iron Flame lol. I just wanted it to be longer, have more detail, have the relationship develop more deeply, and to have more character depth throughout. The ending was amazing but barreled along really quickly! Otherwise I loved the setting, the gothic atmosphere, the spooks got me good, and the main character was quirky and passionate! Thanks so much to the author and NetGalley for the chance to read and review :)

Was this review helpful?

✨ARC Review✨

"The Cruel Dark" by Bea Northwick is a captivating narrative that skillfully builds suspense reminiscent of films like "A Perfect Stranger" and "What Lies Beneath," while also evoking a haunting quality akin to "Jane Eyre." This unique blend creates a gothic, darkly romantic atmosphere that sets the tone for the entire story.

The tension in the novel builds seamlessly, particularly during moments when the female main character is frightened, effectively immersing the reader in her fear. There's a scene that truly felt like a jump scare in a horror film, adding a thrilling element to the narrative. What sets this novel apart is its ability to defy expectations with a plot twist that completely challenged my assumptions, elevating the overall storytelling experience.

The inclusion of mental health representation is a commendable aspect, providing nuanced insight into the main character and enriching the exploration of the human psyche.

Overall, "The Cruel Dark" is a compelling read that seamlessly combines unexpected twists and atmospheric elements, making it a recommended choice for those who appreciate a blend of gothic dark romance and thrilling suspense.

Was this review helpful?

What a surprising read! I am usually not at all into historical romance, but this book hooked me. While it happens in the 1920's I didn't find the references to historical elements very distracting, and pretty soon the plot had gripped me. I love dark romance novels, and I love spooky fiction, and combining the two had me hooked. I liked that it was rather unpredictable in the sense that what I thought the plot twist would be was not even close to what happened. This story kept me guessing and the characters were compelling. I also liked how all questions were answered by the end of it to leave me with a satisfied reading experience. The book is a bit of a slow burn in terms of the romance/spice, but when it kicked off I rather enjoyed it.

Was this review helpful?

‘The Cruel Dark’ endeavors to capture the essence of Brontë but lands squarely in the discount bin. Its attempt at gothic romance falls flat with sex scenes that evoke more embarrassment than passion, and a twist that's less a revelation and more a mild confusion. It’s a narrative that reaches for the windswept moors but only grasps the front lawn. Two stars for the effort, but this tale was more haunting for its missed potential than its story.

Was this review helpful?

Creepy. Bewitching. Suspenseful. Haunting.

Bea Northwick's debut novel, The Cruel Dark, will leave you searching for ghosts in the dark and begging for more in this haunting gothic romance. Her writing style is so beautiful as she writes for the modern reader yet still captures the allure of the classic gothic tale you might find in a Rebecca Du Maurier or Bram Stoker novel.

The connection with the novel's female protagonist, Millicent 'Millie' Foxboro is instant and heartfelt. The way she speaks about herself, especially her dark past and the struggles she faces, makes you want to draw her close and embrace her warmly. Her relationship with Professor Callum Hughes is so cleverly written to carefully make the transition from colleagues who cannot stand one another (or so it appears) to passionate lovers unable to contain their feelings for one another. By the end, you find yourself rooting for them and hope that Callum does not turn out to be a villain in disguise—spoiler alert, he isn't.

Celtic lore is something that I have always loved to see incorporated into novels and I absolutely loved the role it played in this novel. Bea Northwick has clearly spent a great deal of time researching Celtic lore and it shows in her work. The only thing I have to comment on is when the plot twist is revealed to us and we learn more of Millie's dark past, I wish we could had a flashback scene rather than being told it just to add more drama and suspense to the plot.

However, that is just a minor detail and I absolutely loved this book! It has the perfect blend of gothic romance, relatable characters and spooky world-building to appeal to any reader wanting a book to excite yet terrify you.

Was this review helpful?

This book drew me in from the very start and kept me enthralled throughout. It was exactly what I needed to the moment and I loved it.

Was this review helpful?


Thank you again @beanorthwick for the amazing copy and goodies of The Cruel Dark. ⁣

“That’s what most of us want, isn’t it? To not feel so small and inconsequential in this vast world.”⁣

Y’all. Y’all. Yalllllll. This book had my jaw to the floor like a cartoon character needing it to be picked back up. The twists, the turns, the atmospheric vibes, this book is amazing.⁣

Millie. I love you girl. I didn’t know who to trust or who had her best intentions, but I did know I freaking loved Millie. ⁣

I’m sorry but I’m still just in shock over the twist. It’s a great story with this very creepy feel in the back. It kind of reminds you of a scratch in the back of your brain where you know you can’t get comfy because something is gonna jump out at you and scare you. The romance was very steamy, and I’m all for the side characters as well. We basically just smashed all my favorite genres into one (gothic horror, romance, thriller, magical realism) and I did not know how much I needed this book.⁣

5 stars, wow. Y’all have to check this book out now! This book kept me up all night for the gothic vibes, but also the lore. I am literally speechless. This book is small, but damn it’s good.

Was this review helpful?