Cover Image: The Cruel Dark

The Cruel Dark

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

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.

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

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!

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

🌹 Gothic romance
🌹 Historical
🌹 Romantic suspense
🌹 Ghosts
🌹 House secrets
🌹 Distressed heroine
🌹 Grief
🌹 Single pov (but needed to be)

Two chapters in... "Wow this book is beautiful Bea is a beautiful writer".
Few chapters in "Ok I'm getting Belladonna vibes and we all know I'm OBSESSED with Belladonna "
More chapters.... "Holy hell what is happening."
The last few chapters 😱🫣🥹😱😍

Absolutely LOVED everything about this. It's hard to say much because there's twists you will never see coming and I'm not risking that one bit.

But.... Take the beautiful vibes of Belladonna, the confusion of Verity and the thrilling moments of The Only One Left and you have this BEAUTIFUL book.

Thank you to @netgalley and Bea for this ARC copy.

Was this review helpful?

An absolute gem!

A slow burn mystery that unfolds with shades of something unnatural at work in this rich atmospheric historical setting. The characters are so inviting that it is easy to invest in what happens to them and is just one quality that adds to this page turning story. While it can be cast as a gothic horror, mystery or even suspense, this novel is so strongly character driven by the lead Millicent Foxboro that all elements are just a supporting cast to her story. It is impossible not to invest in what happens to Millie or to want to know what happened in her past that led her to spending time in an insane asylum. She is most definitely a character you can love!

It is an obsessive read and one that will keep you wanting to know what happened and what will happen! Bea Northwick created a magnificent world around Willowfield and delivered an absolute gem of a story.

Was this review helpful?

I enjoyed this book a lot. At first, I thought it was just going to be a sexy version of Jane Eyre, but it became a lot more than that, and I really did not see the ending coming. I was initially surprised by just how sexy the book was, but I don’t think it detracted from the story. As far as the ending goes, it is more than just “twisty” - the Jane Eyre vibes gave me a context that I struggled to get away from and totally blinded me to other possibilities. Overall, I thought I knew what was going down but I really wanted to be wrong. I wanted to be able to point to some happy endings, and I wanted to see some kind of redemption for some of our characters. Did we get there? A lady never tells but I will reveal that I was quite satisfied.

Was this review helpful?

A creeping gothic beauty of a book! This story kept me up at night. The setting, the house, the dark creepy atmosphere contrasted with the light and charm of what used to be. The array of amazing, complex characters. The ghost. I mean really, unnervingly, creepy. The dynamic between Millie and Callum could swing from hot to cold to steamy desperation and back again with whiplash speed. And the twists. Oh my, the twists. I loved this story. Don’t miss it. It is perfect for creepy season.

Was this review helpful?

This was so good! Everyone needs to look out for this new author. The book was just amazing.
This gave me American horror vibes with dark romance, and everything you could possibly want.
I love the Celtic lore that was weaved end of the story.
You can say, I absolutely loved it, and I would highly recommend it to everybody who loves a darker romance

Was this review helpful?

This book was so much more than I had anticipated! When I first heard about it, I knew there would be a dark ambience to it, but this fulfilled my fairytale loving, gilded age heart. It's the year 1928 in Boston. Millie Foxboro has had a difficult life. Raised in opulence, but by a mother that despises her. After Millie graduates school she returns home to a disaster and subsequently loses her memory. Fast forward several years and she's working in a dusty book shop, but content with her life. A man visits the shop and offers her a job as a research assistant to his admirable boss.

With nothing to lose and the need of financial security driving her choice, she accepts and moves into the gothic manor of Willowfield. But inside these walls are ghost stories and Millie starts to see things lurking in the shadows and taunting her as a budding romance builds between herself and the man she's working for. But he seems to be hiding a lot of secrets and her life may be in danger.

STUNNING character development in this story with a small cast of characters that really light up each and every page.

Heavy use of Irish folktales that leave you unsettled and wondering why there seems to be so much fascination in the macabre understanding of these demons and spirits. Especially as you wander the haunted halls with Millie as she chases down morbid creatures that haunt her throughout the nights.

The ending surprised me in a HUGE WAY. I had built all kinds of theories in my head as to how this was going to end, but Northwick surprised me in such a pleasant way that I had not thought of at all.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to NetGalley and Northwick books for this ARC read!

This book proved to be an ideal choice for the spooky season! With thrilling ghostly pursuits, the discovery of a clandestine diary, and expertly crafted moments of intensity, it offered a truly captivating reading experience. I must confess that I found myself utterly in the dark about the plot's direction and couldn't predict what was going to unfold until I reached the 75% mark (clearly, my foreshadowing skills were lacking). However, as the mystery began to unravel, it all fell into place, leaving my jaw dropped to the floor!

The enigmatic romance in the story was especially enchanting and added an extra layer of intrigue that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Was this review helpful?

A tremendous thanks to NetGalley, Bea Northwick, and the publisher for providing me with an advance reader's copy (ARC) in return for my honest review. "The Cruel Dark" stands as a first-time offering, skillfully intertwining a mysterious narrative. Bea Northwick, the author, adeptly shapes a romantically eerie ambiance. Abundant twists and surprises throughout the story keep readers in suspense. I was particularly impressed by the depth of character development, especially when it comes to characters like Millie and Callum. This book is an ideal choice for those who relish the seamless blend of gothic romance and academic themes, leaving them eagerly anticipating more literary creations from Bea Northwick in the future. I look forward to more books from Bea Northwick!

Was this review helpful?

There is a line in the second chapter that I think perfectly sums up this book: "Strange things bloom where grief lives."

If you love gothic style romances and creepy reads with a little bit of spice, this is a must to add to your TBR.

And that's all I'm going to say because any actual review might give things away, and where's the fun in that?

Was this review helpful?

This book was so haunting and had a gothic ghost mystery to it. Millie is a complicated character with her past and trying to move on with a new position without her past tainting everything.

This house and new employer also has a past and haunted history. He was very seductive and made Millie feel special but there were so many strange things happening. I definitely didn't know who to trust and which way this mystery was going to turn out.

Thank you beanorthwick for the e-ARC for my honest and voluntary review.

Was this review helpful?

I was hooked from the very first page. The first thing to pull you in is the writing. Her descriptive prose really had me engrossed. Her characters were so well rounded. The pacing of the book was perfect as well, there was no lag and nothing was really rushed. The overall plot coupled with the haunting description and the perfectly crafted characters really made for an enjoyable read.
Will definitely recommend.

Was this review helpful?

A dark romance, perfect for Halloween/Autumn. Filled with mystery, this book really does
keep you guessing. I thought I knew where the plot was going but that was not the case at all. The unravelling at the end was perfect, better than what I had imagined the big reveal to be.
Millie is a very interesting character and her struggles are felt throughout the read.
Its a mixture of scary and spicy, with Millie and Callum’s relationship getting quite intense at times.

Thank you @Netgalley for the ARC

I would definitely recommend this book.

Was this review helpful?

Not going to lie, I solely requested this book because of the cover and my bestie was reading it, too. It instantly captivated me. And the story did not disappoint either!

The first half of the book was slow for me with scene/setting and character development. I found the descriptions of the scenery and manor to be enough to be able to visualize where the story was taking place. And I enjoyed how the characters all played either grumpy or sunshine.

The angsty sexual tension between the FMC and MMC is actually really intense and kinda scary at first. But the passion is what makes it 👌🏻👌🏻👌🏻. I enjoyed their interaction with one another and how it evolved over time.

The author does an amazing job of blending the lines between paranormal fantasy and reality, finally bringing you to a point as to why it was happening. And the twist at the end was 🔥. I didn’t see the plot twist coming and I just loved it!

This story is dark, crazy, creepy, yet beautiful and just all around encompassing! Do yourself a favor and read it!

Was this review helpful?

Can not even contain my excitement about this one! this book has SO many twists and turns and includes all of my favorite things
- [x] creepy dark mansion
- [x] take no bullshit attitude from the FMC-She’ll fight you in her sleep (but really, she might! 🤣)
- [x] Slow burn..then comes the 🌶️
- [x] An ending you never saw coming

It will be available October 31st and you NEED it!

Was this review helpful?