Cover Image: The Cruel Dark

The Cruel Dark

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Member Reviews

Oh my god! I loved this! The whole thing was alluring, creepy good and mysterious. And the romance had its own special crazy pull that I couldn’t get enough of. I liked how well written all the characters were. It was Gothic like and had shades of horror in a big creepy house. The writing sucked me in and each chapter got better and better. I’m going to have to say that this novel is right up there in my top 5 favorite books this year! Yes, it was that good.
I hope everyone reads this and can’t wait to see what Bea Northwick writes next.
Thanks Northwick Books via NetGalley.

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I honestly devoured this book in less than a day. I was hooked on the story - and the twist really came out of nowhere for me. I spent at least a quarter of the book convinced of something that changed at the last minute.

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the Cruel Dark is a gothic romance that is up there with the greats like Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, Daphne du Market's Rebecca and Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. They were masterpieces and now we have another in The Cruel Dark. It was mind blowing, heart wrenching, thrilling and shocking at certain places, I jumped a few times while reading when I was called for. And that epilogue was just stunning. All in All a Spectacular book. I loved Callum and Millie.

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Oh yes yes yes. Loved this book. It's creepy, dark, and very well written. Giving American Horror Story and a perfect read around Halloween. 4.5 stars because maybe it was a little too creepy for me?...

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If you are looking for a spicy gothic romance, look no further! This was a spicy, spooky and twisty read, and I was hooked from the beginning! The story is set in 1920’s and features a huge possibly haunted mansion, a brooding professor/owner, and tons of secrets. When Millie is offered a position as a professor’s assistant, it is an offer she can’t pass up. When Millie arrives to Willowfield she finds the staff to be standoffish and a house full of strange and sinister secrets. Loved the atmosphere and character development. I did suspect a couple of the twists, but the delivery of them was perfect!

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5.0 ⭐️/5
2.5 🌶️/5

Debut novel?! If this the debut novel from
Bea Northwick, I can’t wait to see what is next from this author.

The beautiful cover drew me in, and the blurb seemed so mysterious, I knew I had to read this. I went into this book not knowing what to expect at all, and I am so glad I had the opportunity to read The Cruel Dark because I absolutely loved this book.

This gothic romance that took me through so many emotions. There was suspense, there were elements of a forbidden romance, there were parts paranormal and parts mythical. I was afraid to keep reading at parts but I could not stop reading the Cruel Dark. I had no idea who to trust, and I loved that I was second guessing everyone and everything that happened. I’m leaving everything intentionally vague because I do not want to spoil anything.

Definitely recommend if you love a gothic romance set in the 1920s, love mystery and suspense, love mythology and lore, and a slow burn to steamy romance.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and publisher for the ARC. My thoughts/opinions are my own and my review is voluntary.

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First off, this book was amazing! I absolutely loved Bea's way with words and how everything flowed so well. It feels poetic in the best ways.

This was a slow burn, and it was so worth it. In this short gothic romance, Milly Foxboro takes up a new job in a house that everyone claims in haunted.

𝘛𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘬 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘵𝘰 𝘕𝘦𝘵𝘎𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘺 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘢𝘶𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘳 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘢𝘯 𝘢𝘥𝘷𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘱𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘣𝘰𝘰𝘬.

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HOLY MOLY. What a book this was!

Have you ever read a book that you KNOW is going to stay in your head for a seriously long time? That’s going to live rent free in your head and you’ll think of it at random moments and just be *MIND BLOWN* again all of a sudden?

Well, read this book and you’ll definitely know that feeling.

Millicent - Millie - Foxboro is a young woman working in an academic bookstore in Boston when she is recruited for a job working with a reclusive widowed professor on Celtic mythology and texts in Gaelic, skills that she has thanks to her interests at her boarding school. The professor is unexpected - he’s younger than she anticipated, and comes across as brash and dismissive of her at first.

Millie has secrets - her main one being that she has a four year gap in her memory. All she remembers is waking up at the Our Lady of Grace psychiatric hospital two years ago, with no memory of how she got there or what happened to her.

Professor Hughes has secrets - his wife killed herself after seeing hallucinations of ghosts in their house, and now the staff and labourers consider the mansion haunted and refuse to work there, except a very select few members of staff.

This book wends Celtic mythology with dark romance with suspense/thriller in such an incredible way. The first few chapters took me a little while to get into, but once I was 40% in I absolutely could NOT put it down.

I was supposed to go to bed two hours ago, and instead I finished the book and I’m writing this review, trying to figure out my feelings and thoughts on this book aside from OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOGKG.

I saw the twist at the end coming, but I also really didn’t see it coming. I had an inkling earlier in the book, but the way everything developed took me completely by surprise and just WOW.

This was such a great read and is perfect for any fans of dark romance, dark academia, or slightly spicy suspense/thrillers.

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“𝙄 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙠 𝙖𝙡𝙡 𝙤𝙛 𝙪𝙨 𝙬𝙝𝙤 𝙝𝙖𝙫𝙚 𝙝𝙖𝙙 𝙙𝙚𝙚𝙥 𝙝𝙪𝙧𝙩𝙨 𝙞𝙣 𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙡𝙞𝙛𝙚 𝙣𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙚𝙨𝙘𝙖𝙥𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙖𝙣𝙜𝙚𝙧 𝙞𝙩 𝙩𝙧𝙖𝙣𝙨𝙥𝙞𝙧𝙚𝙨. 𝙄𝙩 𝙨𝙞𝙢𝙥𝙡𝙮 𝙢𝙚𝙡𝙙𝙨 𝙞𝙣𝙩𝙤 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙥𝙚𝙤𝙥𝙡𝙚 𝙬𝙚 𝙗𝙚𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙚, 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙨𝙤𝙢𝙚𝙩𝙞𝙢𝙚𝙨 𝙩𝙖𝙠𝙚𝙨 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙨𝙝𝙖𝙥𝙚 𝙤𝙛 𝙨𝙤𝙢𝙚𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙣𝙚𝙬 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙪𝙣𝙚𝙭𝙥𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙚𝙙, 𝙡𝙞𝙠𝙚 𝙘𝙤𝙪𝙧𝙖𝙜𝙚”

If you are looking for the perfect Halloween book to read this season, STOP and get this book!

It is a historical gothic romance full of ghosts, secrets, spice, and lies. The imagery was phenomenal and I truly got spooked at times. I high-key loved the noted Irish folklore and descriptions of it throughout the mansion.

This was almost a full 5 star read for me. It was a tad bit slow in the beginning for me but that did not deter me from reading AT ALL. This book was un-put-down-able. Not to mention the whirlwind of the ending! That last chapter - HOLY CRAP!

I 100% recommend this book to anyone!

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As soon as I saw this author posting about this book on her instagram I knew I had to read it and what an amazing debut novel. It was a dark gothic romance that kept me fully immersed in the pages and that ending? Floored me. Loved it so much.

Thank you net-galley and publishers for the advance reader copy.

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I Adore this book! It came out at the perfect time. It’s very reminiscent to a Brontë novel. And just like in a Brontë novel the setting is just as much a main character as the people in the story are. We start out in the city of Boston where the street is busy, the sun is shaming and the FMC Milli Foxboro, is leaving her quaint book shop assistant job for a temporary professors assistant placement in the country side. The more we leave the city the stormier the scene gets, the more we dive into Millie’s dreams of the voices she hears and flashbacks of a horrible something that happened in her past.
Each character jumps off the page, along with the fantastic imagery it’s not hard to lose yourself in this book. Before I know it, I was on the treadmill for an hour still reading, I completely forgot where I was. The only reason I gave this 4 stars and not 5 was because at times I felt the illustrations went on for longer than was necessary. Although the writing is beautiful and the words eloquently placed, I felt like I didn’t need an entire page on the branches of trees swayed in the tumultuous wind. But other than that this book is beautiful and dark and funny at times. The way her relationship with professor Hugh’s progresses is the best! She’s so uptight at first and he’s so snarky. The fact that she can’t figure him out, or the secrets of the house and the history are making her go mad. And it’s just my favorite thing about this story. Amazing job to the author!

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I’m not usually one for spooky things, and yet I love a good gothic romance! The Cruel Dark was the perfect level of both for me. There was a bit of spookiness, but the resolution was perfection and soothed all my fears! The story follows Millie, who after her parents murder/suicide, was hospitalized with amnesia. She’d lost several years of memories. In 1928, this history would see her blocked out of most places. But when a job opportunity with insane pay that seems too good to be true is dropped at her feet, she can’t resist. She makes her way to Willowfield, a degrading mansion, as lost to grief as its owner, Professor Callum Hughes. After his wife’s death, he’s pulled out of society and fired almost all the staff, leaving Willowfield near empty, falling apart, and filled with the ghosts of the past.

The story was very clever! It could have gone several ways, and I so enjoyed guessing the whole time what was the true story here. The mystery of the Professor’s wife is shrouded in secrecy, Millie finding out she’d been “mad” before her death. She was seeing ghosts and believed she was being haunted. Millie finds herself seeing those same apparitions, and the nickname she’d gotten as Mad Millie haunts her own days as well. Things both are and aren’t helped by her developing relationship with the Professor. Finding herself walking in his wife’s shoes, literally.

Millie was such an interesting character. At once both bold and timid. She’s a well rounded character. One that is clearly struggling. Her past is haunting her, and she wants to escape it at Willowfield. The horror of her parents death, followed by her amnesia, leaves her feeling lost and alone. She slowly knocks down Callum’s walls though, and finds a new side of herself with him. Bold and feisty, she loved to challenge him. She finds happiness she’d thought impossible with him. Yet, the memory of his wife is like a physical presence in the house. And the visions she’s seeing aren’t helping. The wife trying to tell her something that she just doesn’t understand.

Callum is appropriately mysterious. A man who’s surrounded himself in loneliness purposely after losing the love of his life. He goes from stern and strict to playful and dominating. I loved watching the transformation as he and Millie grew closer. But it’s also clear he’s still grieving for his wife. The dichotomy lends an even more mysterious and somewhat suspicious air to him. Millie wants to loose herself in him, while also wanting to discover what is happening in the house. Even as Callum tries to ensure her that ghosts aren’t real, and the house is only haunted by memories.

Their relationship is very cute! I loved the development of it and seeing the play back and forth between them. The chemistry between them was seriously fantastic! When we discover the truth of what happened, it was heartbreaking! I had some suspicions about it, but I by no means figured it out exactly! It was an amazing revelation and it made total sense in retrospect! I love mysteries like this where it all comes together in a way that had you slapping your forehead for not figuring that out ahead of time. It made me heart hurt for them both! They deserved so much better, and I so hope they have it in the future!

I loved the experience of reading this book. The ups and downs of my emotions were all over the place! Millie’s apparitions freaked me out completely! The suspense of some scenes nearly had me throwing my phone in fear because I’m a baby who can’t deal with suspense at all, but it was manageable! And completely worth it! The highs of the relationship between Millie and Callum made it so for sure. I loved them together and I wanted nothing more than for them to figure things out together. Once I knew what was happening, I wanted it even more! Poor Callum has had enough! All in all, it was fantastic, and I definitely recommend it!

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I was lucky enough to be approved for an e-arc from the publisher via netgalley. This is a beautifully written gothic thriller romance that had me intrigued from start to finish. There are many twists and turns throughout and the author really teases you with figuring out the mystery. I saw one twist coming but not the second and was genuinely surprised, but wished it had been fleshed out and hinted at more because it felt almost pulled out of nowhere. However, as a debut novel, it really did a wonderful job of keeping me hooked. I would say there isn’t as much romance as there is a sexual connection, but those spice scenes had me blushing. Four out of five stars from me!

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Not sure if this is what Bea Northwick had in mind, but The Cruel Dark gave me a sense of a twisted dark-romantic-gothic story inspired by the Secret Garden, which is a fantastic idea of course :)

I was confused about the main character for the first half of the book. For the first few solid chapters she was shy, meek, and afraid, but then she would have random unexplained moments of daring and resilience which left me thinking "where did that come from?" BUT I must say the ending sure did clear all that up, and more! (Excellent ending btw)

The only parts of this book that annoyed me were the chunks and chunks of thick paragraphs in every single chapter merely explaining the color of the walls or the intricate details of every gilded ceiling. All this unnecessary explaining interrupted pacing so much that it slowed down too many moments that certainly didn't need to be slowed down.

But overall fantastic book, I could not stop reading once I started. Thank you Netgalley for the digital ARC

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Read If You Enjoy:
🖤 Dark Secrets
🖤 Steamy Slow Burn Romance
🖤 Celtic Mythology

Historical romance is not something that I would normally pick up, but I was intrigued by the ghost and psychological thriller elements this story promised. It did not disappoint.

Bea's writing was captivating and vivid. You truly feel like you are exploring the dark and eeire mansion right alongside Millie. There is an eerie and mysterious atmosphere throughout the entire story that is steeped in celtic mythology and steamy romance. The tension and passion between Millie and Callum were fantastic.

The story was well paced. The eerire and, at times, scary plot kept me engaged. With an ending that will have you needing to pick your jaw up off the floor, this is definitely a book that was hard to put down.

This mysterious and suspenseful gothic romance is a must add to your fall TBR.

Thank you to Bea and NetGalley for the ARC copy of The Cruel Dark in exchange for an honest review.

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Please see my goodreads review!

I loved this book. It sucked me in and kept me guessing, filled my need for the gothic spooky vibes, confused me and made me fall in love.
I am an expert at figuring out twists before they happen but I did not piece everything together with this one. The part I got correct I was SO HAPPY about. It was the only resolution to this story that would satisfy me.

Spicy, mysterious, confounding, alluring, and a bit creepy, this is the PERFECT gothic romance with a mystery surrounding it. READ IT!

For fans of Belladonna, one dark window, and Gothikana, like me. So good.

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Thank you to Netgalley for providing a free digital ARC for review. All opinions are my own.


This turned into a much better story than I was anticipating. I was pulled all over the place - horror, romance, historical fiction, thriller, back to horror - and I loved it. I could visualize everything and everyone. I loved the characters and could empathize with them.

I was so entrapped in one part of the story line that when the plot twist arrived (one I slightly suspected but forgot about because I was so wrapped up in the rest of the story) I was completely blindsided by the other plot twists! This story was a solid four star, but the ending made it a 5. It was sad, scary, sexy - one I couldn’t put down the longer I read.

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This is by far my favorite romance that I've read this year. The Cruel Dark is a historical romance filled with a girl with a mysterious past, a moody professor, and ghosts and faerie folklore galore. I was enamored by the twist and turns, as well as the Pride and Prejudice (2005) hand clench level of tension anytime the characters interacted. I didn't want this book to end.

Millicent Foxboro cannot remember the last few years of her life. She just wants to move on and leave her ghosts in the past. When her love of folklore and ancient languages lands her an assistant position with an extraordinary salary, Millie is whisked away to the secluded countryside to a mysterious decaying manor and an even more mysterious professor. Millie begins to see ghosts and experience strange things lead her around the house. Between the hauntings and a steamy budding romance with the moody Professor Hughes, her stay in the countryside might lead her to discover more about herself than she bargained for.

I loved everything about this book. The setting of a decaying manor house in the middle of winter created a cold and haunting atmosphere for our FMC to navigate. The manor being filled with faerie monsters and tributes to folklore just added to the otherworldliness of the story and I couldn't get enough.

Watching Millie and Callum dance around each other throughout this story was the best kind of tension. The scene where they meet in the hallway in the middle of the night had me swooning just like I did during Mr. Darcy's hand clench scene in Pride and Prejudice. All of the scenes had me blushing.

The ghost encounters and all the mystery were honestly actually really scary. The images of a ghost scuttling across the floor on all fours really unnerved me. The woman in white really lead Millie down the path of the mystery and I followed along mentally hiding behind her.

And the ending!!!! I had my suspicions on where the story was heading about 60% of the way through but the way it was all executed was absolutely bonkers. With ever reveal, my jaw dropped a little further and I was reading so fast my eyes hurt because my anxiety was so high.

I love love love this book and I will scream about it to anyone that will listen.

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Gave me the perfect Halloween/ Autumn feels!!
I was hooked right from the get go, with the writing style, characters and the plot which kept me guessing!
Perfect mixture of scary gothic vibes with spice!

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Millicent Foxboro is missing years of her memories following a tragedy that caused her to have traumatic amnesia. She’s haunted by a past she can’t remember. When she’s offered the opportunity to work as an assistant to a Professor studying mythology in his spooky, run down estate, she can’t resist. Once she arrives, she falls deep into the world of celtic folklore, flowers and mysterious journals. As she gets closer and more intrigued to the reclusive and intense professor, she becomes worried the rumors of hauntings and ghosts might be getting to her head… and might betray her secrets. Turns out, she’s not the only one with secrets.

THIS IS A MUST READ. This book was so, SO good. Five billion stars. The writing. The characters, the TWIST at the end… My jaw was on the floor. I honestly thought I had it all figured out but I DIDN’T! Once I picked this book up, I couldn’t put it down. You become utterly immersed in this dark, haunted, spooky world. I highly recommend this book, it’s so well done!

Thank you so much to Northwick publishing, netgalley and Bea Northwick for the opportunity to read this ARC. The reviews and opinions are my own and provided voluntarily.

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