Cover Image: The Cruel Dark

The Cruel Dark

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Member Reviews

have you ever read a book that feels like it was specifically written with all the tropes and genres you love in mind? that is The Cruel Dark for me.
okay, let me give you the vibes.
imagine this:
•your wandering down a dark corridor in only your thin nightgown and run into the the dark, broody professor you work for.
•you feel not only haunted by the spirits that lurk the halls but also the ghosts of your past and those strange particular years you can’t quite remember.
•no one will acknowledge the strange occurrences you experience and it makes you wonder what they’re trying to hide or if you’re slowly losing your grip on reality.

this was the quickest 5 stars I’ve ever given a book. when I learned that this was a gothic romance that takes place in the late 1920s with elements of horror, fantasy, and the paranormal I knew I needed this book like water.
it is incredibly atmospheric, dark, sexy, and haunting and I couldn’t get enough. it is beautifully written and the spice is SO good.

Millicent Foxburo is a fascinating character whose courage, stubbornness, relatability, and curiosity made me fall in love with her instantly. she reminded me a bit of Edith Cushing from crimson peak. I adore her kindness, her willingness to stand up for herself but especially, her bite.

Professor Callum Hughes is exceedingly intriguing and complex. dark unkempt curls and obsessive over his research ( and other things), this character is stoic, capricious, secretive, and passionate. I could never guess his next move which had me on the edge of my seat for most of the book.

the tension between these two is palpable and the amount of twists and turns story has is on another level. I have yet to start another book because I can’t stop thinking about the ending.

if you like the idea of:
•gothic romance
a haunted manor
•a hot professor
•Celtic folklore
•dark secrets
•romantic suspense

then please preorder this book asap!! I can’t wait to have my physical copy in my hands next week🖤

it releases october 31st!!

thank you to the author and Netgalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.

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The cruel dark -Bea Northwick

A perfect read for the spooky season!
Going in to this I had no idea what to expect but I’d seen so many pictures on Instagram and so many good reviews that I had to pick it up and see what the hype was about. And it did not disappoint! I was on my toes through the entire book, never knowing what might happen. I loved watching our MC Millicent as she tries to figure out her new employer, and also what is going on in his huge mansion. The last 50 pages gave me whiplash from all the plot twists, I was so confused and I loved it. I really wish we would have gotten to learn what happened when she was at the hospital, I feel like I still had so many questions after I finished the book. Maybe there will be another one? Who knows, I do however highly recommend this book to people who enjoy. Suspense, Hauntings, Early 1900s, Mystery and Romance!

I was given this ARC and I am leaving this review voluntarily

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Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC of “the Cruel Dark” in exchange for an honest review.


We follow a story of Millie who works in a small bookshop who is offered a job as an assistant to a professor of mythology. She cannot refuse that job because of the high salary she’s been promised. When she arrives at his mansion to start her job the things are starting to get really strange. The professor is distant and not very friendly and staff are short spoken. The mansion feels spooky and haunting. She finds an old journal of professors late wife and starts seeing ghosts. Now she cannot explain to herself what’s real and what’s just an illusion.

I really enjoyed reading this book. At first I thought that might be a duology or trilogy and got satisfied when it turned out to be a standalone.

To me this novel felt absolutely gothic sometimes with Hitchcock vibes. The writing style of Bea Northwick is well readable. And I didn’t expect any spice but I’ve got it. The way the author wrapped the story to me was absolutely unexpected.

I would definitely recommend this book to those who like smart thrillers with mystic vibes.

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I devoured this book! I loved the Gothic and creepy vibes. And the romance? So good! While I picked up on hints, I was wrong on where it was going! I did not see it coming, and I was left on the edge of my seat until the very end! I loved it! I can't wait for Northwick’s next book.

I will be posting a full review on my Instagram page before pub day! 🖤

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This was an impressive read from a debut author. Northwick had beautifully descriptive prose that captured a haunting atmosphere that was almost dreamlike. It was spooky and there was some seriously creepy imagery that succeeded in actually jump scaring me! I loved it.

I was sucked in right away by Millie’s story and I really enjoyed following the breadcrumbs of this mystery as they were set out on page.

The only hiccup for me was in the building of the romance. There was more telling than showing as this relationship developed and so when these two came together it felt abrupt and too rushed. <spoiler>I get it but</spoiler> I think more could develop on the page. But Callum did have some swoony one liners, and the steam was great! The pacing of the romance wasn't enough to keep me from enjoying this story.

I loved the parallels to <i>Jane Eyre</i> and <i>Rebecca</i> and I will be watching this author, happy to read more from them.
I recommend this book for its spooky captivating atmosphere, compelling mystery, and a beautiful 1920’s historical setting!

Thank you NetGalley and Northwick Books for the opportunity to read this ARC. I was excited to read this and it did not disappoint.

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This book captured me completely. Already enticed by the premise of a woman haunted, a story set in the late 1920’s and with an intense, brooding MMC, I couldn’t wait to get started on this book.
If you are fan of dark gothic, romantic, historical literature (like Daphne Du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’), this book is a must read! It has a psychological element that borders on haunting and creepy, helped in part by the spooky setting, keeping it alluringly unnerving. There is some spice throughout, but it is relatively modest and in keeping with the setting of the story (although there are a few profanities from the FMC during some spicy scenes!)
The plot is well-written, revealing just enough to keep the reader hungry to unravel the next dark secret - of which there are plenty! And just when I thought I had it all figured out… the plot twists and revelations quickly and uncompromisingly ensured that my perceptions and expectations of events and characters were shattered. Bea Northwick is a very talented writer and I will definitely be looking out for more of her books in the future!

Thank you to NetGalley, Bea Northwick and Northwick Books for the ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Thank you NetGalley and Bia Northwick for an ARC copy of this book an exchange for an honest review.

4/4 stars

This is a fun weekend read, great for some spooky fall vibes.

We meet our main character Millie in Boston getting ready to start a new job at a creepy mansion out in the middle of nowhere in 1928. She's missing years of her memories and she's just looking to move on with her life and get a fresh start. Turns out nothing is as it seems for any of our characters.

I liked the twists and turns in this book. Every time I thought I had a handle on what was going on then suddenly it would all change again and I was chasing new theories on how it would end. This is not a long book so it did not dig too deeply into folklore but what it did touch on was great. If you like Gaelic folklore, fae and ghost stories this one won't disappoint.

The spice in this book is solid, Bea Northwick did a good job of setting up our FMC and MMC without rushing them. Even without the rush they still had plenty of time for a few good scenes and some cute little moments.

My only major complaint about this book is the pacing is odd, it felt like the first 60% of the book was trying to figure out where it wanted to go, and then 60%-90% felt solid and then suddenly _everything_ happens in the last 10% of the book.

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3.5 Stars!

Thank you to Netgalley for the ARC.

The story was atmospheric and really did give me that gothic feel. It's September as I type this review and it was a good short read to get me into that spooky fall vibe. But I think all its description was also what made me enjoy it less. Maybe this is the personal preference coming through as I'm not a big fan of "flowery writing", but for a book that was 200 pages long, I think a good protion was about describing rooms, the manor itself, or re-describing scenes we've already read about. I just think it isn't super necessary to have that in this short of a book, especially a gothic mystery.

It's a weird feeling to be drenched in atmosphere, but lost to the monotony of it all.

Also, I don't know if it's just because I've read my fair share of thrillers and psycho horrors, but I guessed the general sense of the ending very early on in the story so the ending just didn't pack as big of a punch when it was finally revealed.

Other than that, I didn't have any major qualms with the book. I could write that the relationships between leads was a bit awkward and had off-kitler chemistry, but reasoning for that is given so I can forgive it a bit more. Spice was written decently well.

I think if the book was longer and it really delved more into making these different winding pieces of the mystery fit together better and exploring that more instead of just a character monolouging at the end, I think it would have been a better read for me. However, with the problems I do currently have, I'll have to mark the book as a 3.5 stars.

With that, I'm interested to see more of what the author has to offer in her future work.

- - - - - -
Again, thank you to Netgalley for the ARC. All opinions are my own.

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The Cruel Dark was such a fascinating story, set in the 1920's amidst a large estate named Willowfield, a once magnificent home known for sprawling gardens and large parties, but has deteriorated since the lady of the house's death. Millie who once spent two months in a mental ward for traumatic amnesia is offered a job at Willowfield to assist Professor Callum Hughes at his estate. Not being able to resist the enormous salary that could help set Millie up in a new life she accepts. At first she is taken a back by his rude demeanor but slowly he entices her in with a need she can hardly refuse.
This beautifully written story both charming and haunted drew me in from the start. and I couldn't let go. I was especially fascinated with Callum and intrigued by his back story, and the slow relationship that builds between him and Millie. With untrustworthy characters and some spice thrown in for good measure, this book is a must read.
Thank you NetGalley and Northwick Books for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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It's not often you come across a good haunted mansion story that also works as a psychological thriller, a crime mystery and a dark romance with a healthy amount of spice thrown in for good measure. The Cruel Dark delivers on all counts.
The writing is wonderfully descriptive, which allows readers to visualise the unique details of Willowfield, while leaving enough to the imagination to put your own interpretation on those mental images; always a perfect compromise.
Willowfield itself felt more stunning if not slightly sad than scary and oppressing, and while it perfectly fulfils its role of the quintessential eerie, gothic haunted mansion, with some scenes that most definitely tick the horror box, it ultimately also breaks this mould. It's a house I would absolutely love to live in, and as someone who is not frightened of the dark and believes that the only monsters we should be truly afraid of are people, I found the resolution of the mystery of Willowfield as deeply satisfying as it was surprising.
At one point, the plot could have gone in a few different directions, and as such the resolution was hinted at and presented several possible outcomes. The full extent is sufficiently well hidden to make it feel unexpected, which is a rare find and this adds a very welcome and original element of thrilling mystery.

Characters don't get anymore multi-dimensional than a sassy and strong FMC with some serious vulnerabilities due to past mental health and trauma so deep it's caused significant memory loss.
Some of the supporting characters such as Ms Dillard the housekeeper, were incredibly well-rounded and I loved the element of things not being always what they seem being applied to character development, with both negative and positive outcomes.

The historical backdrop of the late 1920's added to the beautifully visual style of the setting, with all its wonderful innovation and post- war feeling of opportunity that lend hope for a brighter future.
The Cruel Dark comes out on October 31st and if you're not planning on going trick or treating, this will definitely sort your night out in the best way possible.

Thank you to @beanorthwick and @Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to indulge in this wonderful story ahead of release day.

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This is a spectacular debut! Scary and sexy, Bea Northwick's The Cruel Dark is a gothic romance that's sure to set your heart racing.

✅ What worked: The scarier scenes in this book are so well done that I found it tough to read it in the dark at night! The mystery of Willowfield, and Millie's own past really draw the reader in, and make it hard to put the book down. Additionally, Millie's descent into madness at the estate is well done, and the reader also feels a gnawing sense of paranoia.
📘 Would I recommend: Yes

I look forward to reading Bea Northwick's next book, and would thoroughly recommend any fan of gothic/gothic romance books to pick up a copy of The Cruel Dark. You won't regret it!

Thank you to NetGalley and Bea Northwick for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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I'm in love with this book!

Mystery, thriller and a spicy romance with a dash of folklore. What's not to love. Although I was able to predict a major information early on. That didn't ruin the story for me because it kept me on the edge of my seat. Always questioning my earlier assumptions thus keeping the thrill and enigma of the book.

I was able to relate to Millie quickly and saw a great dynamic between her and Callum. I would have loved if it was dual POV. Maybe 2 or 3 chapters from him would have been great for us to know more about him but too many might have destroyed the mystery.

The ending is just amazing! the way the "major information" was revealed was just wow!

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The Cruel Dark is a jaw-dropping success, offering a perfect mix of historical, mythical, spooky, and spicy elements. It has the ability to captivate readers, keep them on their toes with unpredictable plot twists. The author has created a beautiful, immersive world with well-rounded characters. The spice is great.
The Cruel Dark is a must-read for those who enjoy gothic historical romance, dark academia vibes, haunted/ghost stories, slow-burn spice, fun plot twists, dark secrets, and mental health representation.

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This was a delightfully spooky gothic historical fiction. I loved it. It could not have a more satisfying ending than if I plotted it myself (which I couldn't have).
The plot was brilliantly executed. I did not foresee that ending. The setting was creepy - with a proper decaying mansion, where the estate includes vast gardens and a hedge maze (with a fairy ring). The characters were charming and enigmatic. The banter was excellent. This contributed to the sizzling chemistry between the characters. The conflict was nail bitingly good. I really can't say more without spoiling it, so I won't. This is a must add to the tbr’s of any reader.
Watch for tigger warnings.
Thank you to @netgalley and the author for an advanced e-copy. The opinions expressed are honest and my own.

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Oh. My. Gosh. This was amazing!!!

It was that creepy and eery in parts I got goosebumps and it genuinely gave me anxiety. The imagination is a very powerful thing and I could feel Millie’s fear through the writing.

I am normally quite perceptive and tend to guess the “twist” or “bad guy” quite early on. This one completely took me by surprise.

There is some spice in this which to be honest I wasn’t expecting but it didn’t take away from the plot at all. In fact, it all made sense at the end!!

I won’t say too much as anything said may give it away, but if you’re in the mood for a gothic creepy read with a sprinkling of romance and spice, pick this up!

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This book was a perfectly spooky read for October. Three know was interesting and I loved learning about the world. The only twist was insane at the end and everything tied up very neatly. The spicy scenes were really good.

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The Cruel Dark promised a rich gothic atmosphere, and it did deliver on that front. However, my overall experience left me giving it a modest three stars. While the ambiance was captivating, the story's length and verbosity sometimes made it feel like a marathon rather than a leisurely stroll.. The story's pacing, in particular, left much to be desired. The book felt like it was 350-page read, but is much shorter.

Moreover, the chemistry between the two main characters felt somewhat awkward and underdeveloped. Their interactions struck me as clunky, failing to draw me in or make me root for their connection. In a story where character dynamics play a pivotal role, this aspect was a noticeable shortcoming.

It wasn't until I reached the 80% mark that I felt the narrative truly hit its stride, making the earlier sections of the book appear somewhat lackluster in comparison.

In summary, this book had its strengths, primarily in its atmospheric quality.. However, it left room for improvement in terms of pacing, character dynamics, and the need for a more engaging storyline in its initial segments. While I don't hold strong feelings about this book, I do believe it has potential if some adjustments were made to enhance the overall reading experience.

Thank you to Netgalley and Northwick Books for this Arc!

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I went into this book without to much to go on just the words gothic romance and while it was gothic and it did have a great romance this book reminded me more of a thriller type book with the plot laid out how it was and the turns it took but I was engrossed in the story and the lives of the characters. Even with the story only being from Millie's POV the Author had a way of making you see the book through others as well in the descriptions and writing you could see it all unfolding and helped in understanding what was going on. It was a good story and am truly happy it was a 1 and done book I feel like it was the perfect length to wrap up the main points in the way a good thriller mystery does.

Thank you NetGalley for the ARC.

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Thank you to the author and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for a review.

I love gothic romance and this was definitely heavy into that genre. We start the book with Millie working at a book shop and then being recruited by a regular customer to go help a Professor with his research at an old, dark estate. Millie soon learns that this house is dark, mostly empty, and plagued by spirits.

Wow, I finished the last chapter on this book and just had to stop and say "WHAT?" This was beautifully done, with great build up in the story and tying up all the loose bits at the end.

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Thank you so much @netgalley and @beanorthwick for an ARC of this book!


Okay, y’all. This book is soooo good! I couldn’t put it down. I haven’t blown through a book this fast in I don’t know how long. It’s just one of those stories that grabs you and keeps you guessing until the end. I thought I knew what was going on, and I was right, but I kept second guessing myself the whole time. I loved it so much!!

This book is dark, mysterious, thrilling, enthralling, romantic, and spicyyyy 🥵. The slow-ish burn about killed me, but in the best way! 🔥

Honestly, this book is gothic romance at its finest. Highly recommend if that’s your thing.

Anything @beanorthwick writes is definitely a must have for me now!

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