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The Cruel Dark

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Member Reviews

Thank you to Netgalley & Northwick books for the e-arc in exchange for my honest review.

The story is if Jane Eyre / Rebecca had a spicy baby...but with not as good of writing. Despite my finishing the book and thoroughly enjoying the certain "sex*ions of the story. I felt the writing was at the same time plain and trying too hard. I felt there was a lot of unnecessary repetition of setting descriptions, etc.

The gothic "mystery" of it all was for me easy to figure out. Bea Northwick left some very overt crumbs throughout. I took a note at Chapter 6 stating what the twist was. So the mystery didn't drive me through the story. I just was interested to see how it was resolved. That being said there was an secondary plot twist at the end regarding the "villain" of the story and I didn't guess that one but I found it to be a little flat and not as convincing. It seems kind of thrown in to me.

Despite my criticisms, I was entertained and you should definitely give it a try yourself. It was definitely spicy and the gothic elements were fun!

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SO good! I did not expect this to be what it was. The Cruel Dark is described as a gothic romance and that it is, but trust me when I say this, there are also some suspense/thriller elements. I was not expecting to have to turn on the lights while reading this in the dark of night but TRUST ME, I freaking did.

This is very much one of those books that you start feeling like you can’t trust anyone or anything. The PLOT TWISTS had me in a chokehold. I was curled in on myself for a lot of this book but the last 25% or so had me gasping.

The setting of the estate was built with extreme detail, which I won’t lie. I struggle imagining exact detail and building an entire imagined haunted estate is not my forte. Given that, I was still hooked. I mean from the very beginning our main FMC is considering wandering the mansion - big NO for me - and the entire vibe of the writing successfully delivers such an ominous feel. From the house rules to the off-limits locked doors, minimal staff, and an elusive professor.

The entire time I was just internally screaming WHAT IS GOING ON? Not in a confusing manner but this is very much one of those books that you have to read in one sitting because I couldn’t sleep without getting to the root of it all. Partly because I had to know and partly because I was genuinely freaked out (I'm a wimp). I really enjoyed this though and highly recommend this to someone looking for a book that keeps them on their toes but also has some spicy elements. A dirty talking professor and his snappy assistant? Yes, please.

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“You don’t know the dangers of this game you’re playing, Millie.”

Secrets, ghosts, lies, mythological creatures, and desires.

I’m speechless!!!🤯 Completely mind blown!
I did not see that coming. What a twist. First, you think the book is going some way when it does a full turn to be something you would have never guessed!

This historical gothic romance will have you obsessed! I feel converted😂. I have never been a historical fan but this book dropped the mic for me! Now I’m questioning I’ve if missed out on other great books.

“All this time you accused me of being a beast, while you were a little devil.”❤️‍🔥

Millie has been assisting at a bookshop but an opportunity comes her way that she can’t refuse. Sometimes when it sounds too good, it doesn’t always end up that way….

“Mmm, but I’m sure you do realize we are here, alone together in the dark of the night. I feel like this happened before.”

Professor Callum is very wealthy, and lonely. He hires Millie to be his assistant while living in a dark, spooky mansion.

While she’s living there and learning the history of the house. Ghosts come out to play while secrets slowly creep to the surface. With a past, can Millie handle all that the Willowfield offers or will it be too much to handle?

Welcome to The Dark Cruel where love is madness.

Thank you Bea Northwick for allowing me to be part of your ARC team. As always, my review is my opinion and thoughts.

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This was such an atmospheric read with many twists and turns. I hate cliffhangers so I am dying to find out what happens next!

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I first discovered this book a few months ago on Instagram. I was anxiously patiently waiting for the October 31st release date - so when I was approved for an ARC I was SO excited! And that excitement was not misplaced! Onto the actual review...

"You shine a light in this dark house, Miss Foxboro. I pray you let nothing extinguish it."

This is a brilliant debut from Bea Northwick. Chock full of ghosts and madness, The Cruel Dark does a great job of encompassing the classic gothic undertones and vibes I love - but does it without being overly predictable!

""And dare I mention you are alone in the dark with a man you don't know?" A low blow. "Or perhaps you are alone in the dark with a woman you don't know.""

The main characters had just that - character! They were well fleshed out, but still had prevalent tones of mystery that left me wanting to know more. The plot holds a mystery that is not easily deciphered early on into the story. The supporting characters added to the gloomy magnetism of Willowfield.

Instead of giving a recap of the plot, I strongly encourage you to read it and discover for yourself! If you're a fan of the themes of Rebecca, Mexican Gothic, or A Dreadful Splendor, you will definitely enjoy this book!

"I couldn't stand wardrobes. They reminded me of giant caskets."

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4 stars

The Cruel Dark is a debut novel by Bea Northwick and I loved it so much! The atmosphere at Willowfield Estate is so gothic and dark and the main character, Millie has a stellar personality!

I loved how the tension between Millie and the Professor built alongside Millie’s anxieties about the estate. Her and Professor Callum had such good chemistry.

On top of having a spicy romance, there is also tons of suspense and an ending that had me gasping as I read.

There were so many aspects of this book that I enjoyed. I think you will love The Cruel Dark too if you enjoy:
- Gothic romance
- Romantic suspense
- Fairy lore
- Dark academia
- Mild enemies to lovers
- Haunted houses with beautiful gardens

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Okay so I will admit the first 30% I had to push to get through but OMG the twists! This had me on the edge of my seat and ended up being a solid 4⭐️ read for me. Short review as I don’t want to spoil, read for yourself 😏

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I was truly enchanted & utterly haunted by this book from beginning to end, and devoured it in a day because I could not put it down.

The imagery in this novel is exquisite; I felt transported into the pages as if I were peering through Millie's eyes into her world. Her backstory is so hallowing, one I can relate to vehemently, and I highlighted so many words I want to remember.

"You're a force of nature, and despite your trials, you've survived with a spirit worthy of its own folklore.”

As an added bonus & something you absolutely CANNOT miss, there is a twist I will be contemplating for a few days.

I feel so incredibly grateful to have been selected for this ARC, thank you @beanorthwick for your story, it has left an impression on my heart & soul I will never forget.

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This book was amazing! I’d never read a gothic romance type book and dipping my toes with this book was exactly the right choice. Bea is a phenomenal writer and her writing style is amazing. I loved everything about this book. The way she built up the world made me feel like I was there in the dark halls of willow field. Millie is by far my favorite character of the book. She’s so spunky and has moments of being a firecracker but like most of us still deals with feelings of doubt. The romantic bits between Callum and Millie , the tension is just swoon worthy. They make me feel all the emotion and tenderness of each moment they have with each other.

The creepy bits that I think go with a gothic book were great. I was literally scared but in such a good way at parts. I had moments I thought I knew what was going on but I didn’t then I thought I did, it was hard to put the book down because I needed to know!
The twist at the end was everything I needed it to be to wrap up the story. No loose ends and I love that. 5 out of 5 stars for this one!!!

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Thank you Bea Northwick for giving me the pleasure to read the ARC of Cruel Dark,
I absolutely loved this beautiful debut novel!
The attention to detail was amazing!
The suspense throughout the book was well paced and definitely a page turner!
I highly recommend this book if you like suspense with twists and turns, gothic romance and mysteries!
Love conquers all!
Cruel Dark set to release on October 31, 2023

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Thank you NetGalley, NorthWick books and Bea Northwick for the ARC in return for an honest review.

"You shine a light in this dark house, Miss Foxboro. I pray you let nothing extinguish it."

Let me start out by say I didn't have a single clue what this book was about. I saw the cover and title on instagram and said SOLD, especially with it getting into the spooky season. Honestly, I'm so glad I went into this story in the dark because it did not disappoint. I hit all the marks, romance, suspense, thriller, and the twist at the end!

In the beginning we met Millie, who doesn't remember a huge part of her life due to traumatic event that landed her in a psychiatric hospital. Working in a little book store she is approach by Dr. Hannigan who offers her an assistant job to the reclusive Professor Hughes. She needs the money and with it being only a few weeks she accepts. Moving into the home strange things start to occur for Millie, hearing voices, seeing people, feeling ill. Not to mention with the limited staff the home does have, they all act very strange towards her. As Millie and Professor Hughes grow closer and closer, the spooky things start to get more intense by the day.

I thought I figured out the twist Bae wrote fairly early on, but when I tell you I was completely wrong I mean it, I was no where near close to that twist. It was so much better than I could ever imagine. The beginning was a little dry and boring for me but once I hit chapter 4 I could not put this book down. I also wish it would have been longer but felt it was wrapped up very nicely.

If you are looking for a romantic, historical, gothic, thriller, suspenseful book then look no further! Count down the days because The Cruel Dark is out October 31st!

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I was excited to read this book, a 1920s gothic thriller but found it a bit disappointing. Overwritten at times, it's heavy on description that sometimes falls flat. I had a tough time gelling with the MC, Millie Foxboro, I'm not sure why. Eventually I got invested in the story and was anxious to learn the mystery. First I had to slog through an unexpected extended sex scene which I didn't feel fit the narrative. When the mystery is resolved I didn't really buy it. Overall I was underwhelmed by the story.

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The cruel dark review
5 stars
I don’t normally read historical fiction or thrillers/mystery books. I gave this a try because it sounded interesting and I’m glad that I did!

I read this book so quickly because I needed to know who or what was haunting Milli- or was it the house that was haunted?

I don’t typically like historical fiction, I’m not into history- at all. But this book was fantastic. The language used, in my opinion, was very 1920s and kept with the theme of the book.

The mansion: creepy. The descriptions of some of what our FMC was seeing and experiencing, gave me the chills. The Fae folklore really brought some magic into the story. The world building was just enough, not too much, and at the right time. It wasn’t overwhelming or repetitive.

The plot kept twisting and I did not see it coming! I don’t want to say any spoilers so unfortunately I am going to leave it vague.

Favorite quote:

“I realized what he was doing. I’d sworn I would never beg, and he was making sure I couldn’t stand by my word. Lust unraveled my pride.”

And the pages following, which are too spicy to post publicly. 🥵

Great book for anyone who may not typically like this genre, and of course, those who do. I found it to be captivating!

Thank you Netgalley and Bea Northwick for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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3.5 stars

Holy F***! That twist! This is a book that HAS to be read in a single setting - so much lush atmosphere! This is not going to be a long review, as the book is much better without spoilers - but just, read the trigger warnings, and read it!!

Why the less than 5 stars: I felt this book could've done better with more editing. There were huge swathes of book towards the beginning, full of descriptions that made the core storyline less gripping.

My thanks to Netgalley and the author for an eARC!

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W O W!!!

I am utterly floored that this is a debut novel. I devoured this in less than a day, I literally could not put it down. The writing is gripping, while still beautiful. Tense and creepy but still good-humored when needed.

I will say I picked up on the twist about halfway through, but it did not take away from my enjoyment in the slightest. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the story unfold and all of the little twists and turns had my stomach lurching.

I will, undoubtedly, be reading anything Bea Northwick releases in the future. This book solidified me as an absolute huge fan of her writing!

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THE PLOT TWISTS! This book was absolute gothic perfection, the ghosts, the mansion, the dark elements of the Celtic mythological creatures, it was an amazing read that I simply couldn’t put down.

I have to pay my respects to Bea Northwick, her attention to detail in this book was amazing, she did not leave one loose end, making sure to clean everything up in the Epilogue. That final plot twist was, hm *chefs kiss*!

I am at a loss for words at Millie’s character, I loved her strong personality, and the fact that she remained her outspoken self throughout.

ALSO, when I learnt what happened to her parents ??? I was shook! It was the perfect way to bring in that morbid/dark side of the story.

The spice 🌶️🌶️🌶️🫣

I will recommend this to anyone who listens.

A big thank you to NetGalley and Northwick Books for allowing me the pleasure of reading the ARC of Cruel Dark.

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The Cruel Dark is a gothic romance rich with spine-tingling elements and enigmatic characters. The immersive storytelling instantly captured my interest, and I felt I was exploring the tragically beautiful home, shuddering when approaching the darkest corners alongside the main protagonist. The build-up is done wonderfully and makes the dramatic twist worthwhile.

My favorite things from The Cruel Dark that other readers might enjoy include:

- Historical setting
- Gothic romance
- Flowers and folklore
- Eerie estates
- Deadly secrets
- Jane Eyre and Rebecca vibes

I can’t wait for people to read this book so I can rhapsodize about the ending!

Thank you, NetGalley and Northwick Books, for sending me an e-ARC of this book! All opinions are my own.

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The Cruel Dark has everything you want in a great fall read:
- Slow burn gothic romance with spice
- Forced proximity
- FMC with a tragic past
- House with secrets

This atmospheric debut novel from Bea Northwick had me turning the pages, wanting more. The story follows Millie Foxboro as she is hired by Professor Callum Hughes to move into his estate as his assistant. She soon realizes that she cannot escape ghosts of her past as she begins to learn the history of Willowfield and its dark secrets.

I immediately thought of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier with its similar gothic romance vibes. The suspense throughout the book was well-paced and the characters were intriguing and mysterious. I did not expect the ending and it absolutely threw me for a loop! This book was a great way to jumpstart the fall reading season and I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

Thank you to the author and Netgalley for the ARC to read and review. Opinions are my own.

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Thank you to Bea Northwick, Victory Editing NetGalley Co-op and NetGalley for giving me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

"My heart seized, full of love, sorrow, and fear, because I had seen the things walking the halls of Willowfield and I didn't believe his wife had been mad."

I am still reeling from the shocking twist this book ended with! This read was an absolute whirlwind. This is a gothic romance full of suspense. I felt as though I was on edge most of this book. The suspense and tension are so thick that I couldn't stop reading until I was finished. The Cruel Dark has distressed heroin, grieving lover, gothic charm, dark secrets, romantic suspense, and spice. Do I need to say anything else?

This story follows Millicent Foxboro, who is haunted by the ghosts of her past. She has found herself trying to piece her life together after spending two months in a mental ward for traumatic amnesia. She is only able to recall memories that still haunt her in her sleep. She accepts an assistantship to a Professor Callum of mythology due to the incredibly high salary and her need to find stability in her life again. It sounds like a good opportunity, right? When she arrives for her assistantship, she finds that the widowed professor is grim with unpredictable moods. Not only that but the magnificent home has scarce staff due to the rumors of ghosts and is falling to pieces after the late death of his wife. During the time she spends with the professor working, she finds herself to be drawn to him and a desire blooms. As quick as the desire comes, so do the secrets of the house and they threaten to reveal her own secret. Whose secret is most dangerous? Millicent's or Callum's?

I highly recommend everyone reads The Cruel Dark!

This review is posted to my Goodreads account on 9/1/2023, and it will be posted to my Bookstagram account on 9/5/2023.

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