Cover Image: The Curse of Penryth Hall

The Curse of Penryth Hall

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Member Reviews

I loved this book.
The book revolves around Ruby Vaughn, an American heiress who has always tried to forget her past, especially the horrors of the Great War. But when she has to deliver some books to a folk healer in Cornwall, she finds herself back in the place she vowed to never revisit. She meets her old friend Tamsyn and her husband, Sir Edward, who live in the ominous Penryth Hall. Ruby wants to leave as soon as possible, but her plans are interrupted by the sudden death of Edward, who was killed in a gruesome way in the orchard. The villagers believe that a curse has returned to Penryth and that the only one who can lift it is Ruan Kivell, the Pellar, the man who ordered the books from Ruby. Ruby doesn’t believe in curses or Pellars, but the people of Cornwall are convinced that Tamsyn is the next target of the curse. Ruby has to protect her friend and maybe possibly once lover so she is forced to stay.

A paranormal murder mystery?? So many questions so many doubts... I loved this debut novel a lot. It completely drew me in and I couldn't stop listening to it. Also, this was my very first audiobook narrated by Emma Love, I think and I am going to start listening to more audiobooks now. She has the most amazing voice and I loved every minute of her narration.
I would recommend this book to people who love gothic novels, murder mysteries, and some romance.
Thank YOU, NetGalley for letting me listen to the ARC of this book.

also this book is getting published today December 5, 2023. Rush to your nearest bookstore and grab it off the shelf

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Do curses exist or are the killings done by human hands? Can you salvage a friendship, after heartbreak? Can you learn to be on your own and follow your own dreams instead of chasing someone else's?
These are all questions that present throughout this story. The narrator was wonderful and the story was interesting.

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THE CURSE OF PENRYTH HALL by Jess Armstrong, her debut novel, is a compelling blend of mystery, magic, and historical drama. Set in post-World War I England, the story follows Ruby Vaughn, an American heiress with a mysterious past, as she confronts old wounds and dark secrets in the haunting Penryth Hall. Armstrong's narrative, voiced by Ruby, skillfully weaves a complex tapestry of relationships, wartime experiences, and familial exile. While the plot centers around a murder mystery enveloped in whispers of curses and magic, Armstrong introduces a unique and captivating storyline. The atmospheric setting of Penryth Hall, with its foreboding aura, adds an eerie touch to the tale. The reveal of suspects and the intricate connections between characters keep the reader guessing until the satisfying conclusion. Despite the novel's debut status, Armstrong displays a seasoned storytelling flair, creating a suspenseful, paranormal murder mystery that leaves room for a potential sequel. I'm eager to discover more of Ruby Vaughn's enigmatic journey in the future.

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Thank you to NetGalley and Dreamscape Media for the Advance Listener's Copy of The Curse of Penryth Hall!

Ruby Vaughn is a disgraced American heiress who was sent off to England to escape her shame. She nursed during WWII and began a close relationship/love affair with Tamsyn, who left her to marry a baronet. Ruby attended the wedding in Lothlel Green but has not had any contact with her friend since. Since the war, Ruby has settled into a life with a whimsical elderly gentleman and his bookstore. He sends her to Lothlel Green to deliver a box of books and despite her misgivings, Ruby decides to visit Tamsyn while she is in town.

Ruby spends the night in Tamsyn's home and wakes to discover that Tamsyn's husband has been murdered. Tamsyn is terrified that she and her child may be next. Ruby and the local Pellar, the seventh son of a seventh son who is slightly magical, set off to discover the murderer and prove that it is in fact a murderer and not a curse.

I did enjoy this book. I liked the curmudgeonly Pellar and Ruby's unique personality. I liked the quaint Cornwall setting and of course I loved Mr. Owen, the elderly bookseller. The story moved at a pretty quick pace; it could have used some tightening up in the middle but overall was good. My biggest issue was with the magical elements in the story. It almost seemed as if the author didn't know how to define the Pellar since no one in the story, even the Pellar himself, could define it. The other (wicked) witch is abandoned without any further reference and her inference that Ruby herself may be magical is never discussed again. The end of the story seems to indicate that there will be further books so hopefully we will circle back in the next book.

The narration was excellent. I especially loved Mr. Owen's accent.

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The Curse of Penryth Hall is an excellent historical mystery with a bit of a gothic/paranormal flavor. Most of the action takes place in and around a village in Cornwall, England, in 1922. (There are a couple of mentions of Howard Carter, with people saying they didn’t think his expedition to Egypt would turn up anything worthwhile, which made me laugh, as he went on to discover the tomb of Tutankhamen!)

Ruby Vaughn is a wealthy, orphaned American expat, who got into all sorts of escapades and also served as a nurse in World War I. She is currently working for a rare bookseller and is tasked with bringing a large box of books to the village in Cornwall where an old dear friend, Tamsyn, lives (in Penryth Hall). The books need to be delivered to a man named Ruan, who is a “pellar” (I had to look it up), a sort of witch or wizard or folk healer. Ruby goes to visit Tamsyn and finds that all is not well in Cornwall! As you can imagine from the title, things go very wrong indeed.

The writing was lovely and I sped through the book. I could picture the manor house, the landscape and the small cottages. I enjoyed the characters of Ruby and Ruan, but it took me a while to warm up to Tamsyn, although I sympathized with her having an unhappy marriage. Some of the side characters were terrific, such as the housekeeper, Mrs. Penrose. I also adored Ruby’s cat! There are hints at the end of a possible sequel. I hope that’s the case.

I bounced between the audiobook and the ebook for this title, which was very convenient. The audiobook was narrated beautifully by Emma Love, who did an outstanding job with all the various English/Scottish and American accents.

Thank you to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an advance reader copy of this book and to Dreamscape Media and NetGalley for the opportunity to listen to an advance copy of this audiobook. All opinions are my own.

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2/5 stars (audiobook),

This book was hard for me to get into after the first 10%. I had a tough time following the plot with some of the extra details thrown in there.

Thank you to NetGalley and Dreamscape Media for the advance reader copy. This is my honest review.

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The Curse of Penryth Hall

Author: Jess Armstrong
Narrator: Emma Love
Publisher: Dreamscape Media
Release: December 5, 2023

My Rating: 4 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thanks to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for an ARC in return for an honest review.

This was a debut author and I expected a mystery based on the title. In addition to the mystery, it had a mix of gothic, fantasy, and historical fiction. It was a little long and not a thriller, but the style of writing was quite interesting. Think The Death of Mrs. Westaway (Ruth Ware) with a hint of Nevernight Chronicles (Jay Kristoff). I look forward to seeing where this author goes next. This book is work checking out.

#debutauthor #book #bookstagram #books #bookreviewer #easyread #fiction #newrelease

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The Curse of Penryth Hall started out promising but became somewhat convoluted and increasingly bland the longer it went on. By the end I honestly didn’t much care who did it or why, I was just happy to be finished and able to move on.

Thank you Jess Armstrong, Dreamscape Media, and NetGalley for providing this ALC for review consideration. All opinions expressed are my own.

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THE CURSE OF PENRYTH HALL by Jess Armstrong is read by Emma Love is a darkly whimsical Gothic novel perfect for the season!

I loved the ability to pair the audio with the digital book with this one. To have the accents done so well and distinctive is such fun for me and this was fantastic. It made reading the story so much more alive!

American heiress Ruby is happily running a bookstore in the Cornish village of Exeter after the Great War. When she brings an order of rare books to a folk healer deep in the countryside, she is intrigued. She doesn't want to dredge up old wounds but she is drawn to the home her former best friend who lives in Penryth Hall, and when her husband, Edward dies one fateful night, Ruby and folk healer Ruen join forces to discover the killer before anyone else becomes a victim of the curse!

I was a bit unprepared for the slight magical realism of this story. Once I embraced the abilities of Ruen and understood this aspect, it helped me to stop overthinking it! His magic is both covert and kind-of known, thus my dark whimsy label. Also, I learned what a Pellar was (a witch who breaks curses).

I enjoyed this mystery quite a bit, and had no idea who the culprit was. The family drama of the wealthy in the English countryside is usually fine fodder for a tale like this. I liked getting pulled into various suspicious with many possibilities. I even liked Ruby and Ruen's complicated connection.

If you are ready for a period murder mystery with a pinch of magic and a ton of atmosphere, this book and audio will be available on December 5th! A really fantastic read for these longer, dark nights.

Thank you @netgalley @dreamscape_media & @minotaur_books for this great story and letting me share my thoughts. I can see why Armstrong won your Mystery Writers of America Best Crime Novel Award! I will be excited to read what comes next as well.

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The Curse of Penryth Hall is a Gothic murder mystery, seeping with a moody, paranormal atmosphere that really worked for me.

I enjoyed the characters and found them interesting. I found Ruby (the main character) to be strong-willed, impulsive, and a bit reckless. Yet, she is also loyal, caring, and rational. I especially liked the relationship between Ruby and Ruan (the grumpy town pellar/healer). They butt heads over the nature of the mystery. Is it paranormal, or is there a logical explanation for the killings? Their banter brought their characters to life. While this gives off enemies-to-lovers vibes, don't expect too much romance.

I was captivated by the mystery and read this in nearly one sitting. Armstrong had me second-guessing every character. I thought everyone was the culprit at one point. It kept me turning the pages.

If I have any complaints, I would say the pacing is off. The middle dragged some for me, but it didn't stop me from continuing. I never felt like putting the book down.

This is the perfect snuggle-up and on a rainy day kind of read.

I did this via audio and thought the narrator did a great job.

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press, Minotaur Books, and Dreamscape Media for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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This was a three star read for me. Firstly, the audio was done very well, and the narrator is fantastic. In the first thirty percent of the book I was confused by the plot and irked by the main character and I believe the only reason I continued was because of the narration, well, that and my goal to not DNF anything this year. But it was close. So to get into that, as I said a large part of the story was very hard to follow, as we only get bits and pieces of information at a time. It made it very hard to care or continue at times.

The main character is Ruby, an heiress with too much money and a lot of trauma, and instead of dealing with it she drinks every day and lives to shock society. It was hard to empathize with that or to see her as a heroine. But basically she falls into solving a mystery involving a curse and multiple deaths in Cornwall, and she ends up working alongside Ruan, a local Pellar. His story and the addition of Cornish folklore was interesting, but unfortunately we didn’t really a lot of his history. Although I feel like the end seemed to set up another book, so maybe some details were left for that reason.

As far as the mystery part of the plot, I really enjoyed it. There were tons of suspects as to “whodunnit” and it took me a while to figure it out. That part was really well done. If there is another book, I think I would read it in hopes that we see more of his story, and he could help Ruby to grow more…and also to see more of her housekeeper and Mr. Owen, they were great side characters.

Thank you to NetGalley and Dreamscape Media for the audio ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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This book was interesting to say the least.
The writing reminds me of Lisa Jewel and the plot reminds me of Agatha Christie
A murder with a side of of local lore; this one partaking a curse
It’s been a while since I read a mystery/thriller book without any sort of romance and I must say it’s quite interesting

Go into this book blind because half the fun is trying to discover who-dun-it
And just like any Agatha Christie’s Poirot cases, the killer turns out to be someone I hadn’t expected at all
I had such a fun pleasant experience listening to this audiobook
I give it 4.1 stars/5

Thank you to NetGalley, Dreamscape Media, and Jess Armstrong for providing me with this audiobook in exchange for an honest review

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If you are looking for a historical fiction that does not majorly dwell on war story, then this would fit well. Ruby (our protagonist) has the unprecedented task of delivering books from her bookstore to a countryside mansion which, supposedly is cursed.

The book has added a mix of scepticism over witchcraft and actual events happening in the story. I did enjoy the tactic used by the author to keep the reader confused till the end. That did keep me hooked up and contemplating the suspect lists.

Thanks, @netgalley @dreamscape_media @jessl_armstrong for the Audiobook. The suspense buildup and the sound effects are great.

Genre: #murdermystery #historicalfiction
Rating: 4.5 ⭐️

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This was such a fun read! A little fantastical/supernatural, a little budding romance, and best of all, a great mystery at the heart of it all! I very much look forward to following Ruby and Ruan and (hopefully 😉) watching their relationship grow, and see what other mishaps they fall into.

I really enjoyed Emma Love's narration of this book! She kept all the characters unique with theor different voices, and it made it really easy to tell who was speaking. I also really enjoyed the emotion she added at certain points to really make the dialoge feel real. Her narration really made the enjoyment of this book so much better!

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The Curse of Penryth Hall is engrossing. Ruby, our protagonist, is a disgraced heiress living in exile in Exter. There she works for her landlord, Mr. Owen, who sells rare books. Ruby is jaded, drinks too much, and is rather reckless. She’s also generous and stubborn. As the book opens, Mr. Owen sends her with a box of books to a small village in Cornwall. The books, it turns out, are for Ruan Kivell, the town’s Pellar, a wise man/witch/folk healer character. After making her delivery she stops a Penryth Hall to visit Tamsyn, an old friend with whom she has a complicated history. It’s clear at dinner that Tamsyn’s husband is not a good man. The reader is not surprised when he ends up dead the next morning, a victim of “the curse” according to the locals. Ruby doesn’t believe in curses, but she does believe in protecting her friend and uncovering the truth.

Cornwall is a superstitious, suspicious place still recovering from the losses of the Great War. It’s a place where the supernatural can and may exist. It’s vividly drawn and gives the whole book an atmospheric, claustrophobic feel. The Pellar is part of that magic, not all of his skills can be logically explained, as is his connection to Ruby. They are good characters, both strong and not as in control of their emotions as they’d like to be.

The mystery itself was twisty and very character-based. The ending is a bit sad though. I’m hoping we get to join Ruby, and maybe Mr. Owen, on another mystery.

I listened to the audio and the narrator was perfect for the book. She brought Ruby alive with her grief and determination and sense of humor.

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I did not like this, not one bit.
I didn't really give a sh*t.
It was not fun, but now I'm done.
And off to have a comfort read.
Thank you (?) to NetGalley & Dreamscape Media for my ALC.

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While I wanted to enjoy Jess Armstrong's debut, I ended up "dnf'ing" The Curse of Penryth Hall at 70%. I couldn't find a connection to the characters and feel (after reflection) that atmospheric gothic tales are just not my thing. BUT IF YOU LIKE THAT YOU MAY LIKE THIS! The one thing that *almost* kept me listening was the audio, narrator by Emma Love. Emma's voice kept me immersed in the story and I could imagine myself walking in the fields.

Thank you Dreamscape Media and Macmillan (Minotaur) for my alc/earc in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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This book kind of reminded me of Mexican Gothic, but with a post-WWI European setting. I enjoyed Ruby, our main heroine, and her inner monologue. She’d had a rough life and an interesting outlook. Penryth Hall and it’s cast of characters have an excellent spooky vibe on its cliff side local and I could definitely feel and picture the drafty, dark rooms and hallways. I had a hard time keeping all townspeople together and, while I didn’t see the twist coming, parts of it seemed too far-fetched. Overall, a good and interesting novel and a well-narrated audio.

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Disgraced American heiress Ruby Vaughn has made a new life in Exeter, England, as a bookseller. A delivery of sorcery books to the local folk-healer in Cornwall causes Ruby to cross paths with a beloved friend from the past, someone from whom she parted badly. The very next day, the friend’s husband is murdered and Ruby had a dream about it. The villagers are convinced it’s the long-ago curse placed on the lord of Penryth Hall but Ruby’s got her doubts. This may be the start of a fun (and maybe quite cozy) mystery series.

*Special thanks to NetGalley and Dreamscape Media for this audio e-arc.*

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Ruby Vaughn does not want to go to the Cornish countryside, but her octogenarian employer insists he isn’t up to the trip, and she must deliver books to a local folk healer. As soon as she delivers the rare books, she faces her past head on and goes directly to Penryth Hall.

Cast out of American society for her behavior, she lived for a few years with her friend Tamsyn and her family. The Great War left her relationship with Tamsyn tense and in tatters. After the war, Ruby continued with her wild ways living life on the edge throwing raging parties, while Tamsyn married Sir Edward Chenowyth, a titled man perfect for someone of her station. Seeing Tamsyn brings back all sorts of memories, making Ruby wish to get back to Exeter as soon as possible.

When Tamsyn’s husband ends up dead and mutilated, Ruby hears rumors of a long-standing curse to the Chenowyth family. The local folk healer turns out to be the town’s Pellar, and he insists Ruby stay on as she is in danger, and he can only protect her if she stays put at Penryth Hall. Ruby, ever the pragmatist, does not believe in any kind of superstition and is determined to get to the bottom of this so-called “curse”. Can Ruby and Ruan (the pellar) stop bickering long enough over their belief systems to figure out who is behind the attacks?

This gothic mystery is very reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast—hello—a book lover enters and enchanting castle and tries to break the curse? Overall, Ruby was an interesting character, and I enjoyed the banter between her and Ruan. I was not a fan of the storyline of her relationship with Tamsyn. Their friendship made sense when her family home was a haven, but the sexual tension was hard to believe. Ruby and Tamsyn seemed like friends of circumstance, not two who would ever seek each other out on purpose. Frankly, Tamsyn bored me. This was a quick an interesting read that I could see being developed into a series, especially if Ruby and Ruan continue to work together.

Thank you to NetGalley, Dreamscape Media, and the author Jess Armstrong for the advanced copy of the audiobook. The Curse of Penryth Hall is out on Dec. 5th. All opinions are my own.

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