Jane Eyre meets The Secret Garden in a gothic novel of romantic suspense set in 1890s Yorkshire.
Solicitor Vaughan Springthorpe knows perfectly well that Sir Peter Spencer’s offer of employment seems too good to be true: he hires her sight unseen, offering a suspiciously large salary to prepare the sale of Morton Abbey, his crumbling Yorkshire estate. But few people in late-Victorian England will entrust their legal affairs to a woman, and Vaughan is desperate to prove herself.
Once at Morton, Vaughan discovers that someone is determined to drive her away. An intruder tries to enter her bedroom at night, gunshots are fired outside her window, and an eerie crying echoes from the uninhabited second floor. Even Netherton, the nearest village, seems odd: the picturesque houses and perfect-looking families are haunted by dark secrets connected to Morton Abbey itself.
To complete her work and solve the mystery at the heart of Morton, Vaughan needs the help of Joe Dixon, the handsome gardener, and Nicholas Spencer, her employer’s irascible invalid brother. But with her questions diverted, her progress thwarted, and her sleep disrupted by the crying, will Vaughan escape Morton Abbey with her sanity intact or be cursed by the secrets within?
A Note From the Publisher
Content Warning: child death
“Clarissa Harwood's latest is Jane Eyre meets The Secret Garden. A resourceful heroine, a gloomy manor, and a dark secret to uncover—who could ask for anything more? The Curse of Morton Abbey is a terrific gothic romp of a novel!” - Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Rose Code
“The Curse of Morton Abbey is a delightfully spooky and wonderfully atmospheric gothic novel. Clarissa Harwood’s firm grasp of Victorian history manifests itself in note-perfect period detail. Reminiscent of the works of Charlotte Brontë and Frances Hodgson Burnett, this story contains everything I love best about the genre. Highly recommended.” - Mimi Matthews, USA Today bestselling author
“A pacey Victorian Gothic full of suspense, romance, and a refreshing amount of feminist sensibility. A resounding five stars!” - Terry Lynn Thomas, USA Today bestselling author
“A beautiful blend of history, romance, and mystery, with a hauntingly gothic spirit.” - Dianne Freeman, Agatha Award-winning author of the Countess of Harleigh mystery series
"Clarissa Harwood proves herself to be a mistress of romantic suspense in The Curse of Morton Abbey, a delectably gothic page-turner. With echoes of The Secret Garden and the Brontës, The Curse of Morton Abbey will keep you reading late into the night to uncover its dark final twists. Fans of Hester Fox and Mimi Matthews will want to devour this one!” - Kris Waldherr, author of The Lost History of Dreams and Doomed Queens
“Like the bare branch of a tree tapping on a nighttime window, this absorbing novel shivers with mystery and romantic possibility. Clarissa Harwood has created a gothic wonder, a captivating novel filled with secrets, betrayal, and the echo of invisible footsteps down a dark corridor. This book is a delight.” - Carrie Callaghan, author of A Light of Her Own and Salt the Snow
“A perfectly ominous and enthralling page-turner of a mystery, The Curse of Morton Abbey is an exquisite mix of Edgar Allan Poe and Jane Eyre. You won't be able to put it down until you've pursued the sinister labyrinth of the story through each increasingly dark twist and turn, and come to the explosive, astonishing end.” - Lauren Sapala, author of The INFJ Writer and West is San Francisco
Average rating from 55 members
This was my first Clarissa Harwood book and she won me over for giving me not only a spooky tale, but a tale where the romance was truly earned and well-developed. Ugh. That romance. The romance snuck up on me. I was worried while reading it to find out who exactly will turn out to the the romantic interest? You have the invalid, the brother, and the caretaker. At first the book was going in one direction and I kept telling myself 'god, this guy is boring... is this really going to be the love interest'. Imagine when I discovered who it was? Perfect. Absolutely slow building and very, very sweet. The mystery / gothic story was also well done where I couldn't tell who or what was 'haunting' the estate. The twists and turns were not things I could easily guess and I love that with a book, especially with an author I've never tried before. If you're looking for a clean, gothic romance set in the early 1900's, this is the book for you!
I was gripped from the very beginning! The creepy setting, vivid descriptions, complex characters and the mysteriousness surrounding it all. I was gripped. There were aspects of the book that reminded me of Beauty and the Beast and The Secret Garden. The build-up to the end and all the unanswered questions was riveting. The romance didn't detract from the story, instead it enhanced it. Very pleased with the ending:)
A gothic mystery which is brilliant. Vaughan and Nick are the lead characters, but also Joe, the gardener and to a lesser extent Joe's mother, and the servants, Mrs Wilson and Bedford, all have a role to play. Why is Vaughan disturbed in the night by crying, a gunshot and laughing? These are questions that can only answered by reading the novel, since I will not spoil the novel, but recommend it highly to readers. This novel will appeal to anyone who relishes a good mystery, and it kept me guessing until the very end. There is also a little bit of historical research involved, concerning a Miss Orme. Altogether a most enjoyable read.
I'm definitely seeing where the likening to The Secret Garden comes in,it feels very much like the adult version. (In a respectable way) An interesting female lead, a spooky isolated house, strange goings on. It's a recipe for a good story. I liked this book a lot,despite being able to predict where a lot of it was going. There were some dramatic turns that surprised me though. Very much a book I'll be recommending to others.
I really enjoyed this title and highly recommend. I feel this will make an excellent addition to anyone’s book collection. Please be sure to go and pick this one up
This story has such a classic gothic feel to it that is masterfully done. It was shrouded in darkness and gloom and the atmosphere on the pages was intense. I really enjoyed reading this book
Amazing gothic novel! This reminded me of Jane Eyre and Northanger Abbey. Vaughn is trained in law by her father and at his passing takes a job at Morton Abbey. Vaughn attempts to ready the Abbey for sale and discover it's mysterious secrets. She is thwarted at every step of the way, first by the owner's ill borother who lives at the Abbey, and an unknown spectre. If you love gothic mysteries don't pass this book by.
I’m back on the gothic novels now we’re sprinting towards autumn and I think my latest one is wonderfully atmospheric for the cooler months 🍂 The Curse of Morton Abbey by @clarissajharwood - ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. Thanks so much to @victoryeditingngc & @netgalley for the advanced copy! A solicitors daughter, Vaughan Springthorpe - neither as beautiful as her sisters and born with a physical deformity that has left her with a limp - acted as her fathers legal assistant until his death. Whilst her mother wished for her to move in with her and her sister, desperate for freedom Vaughan takes a job offer that seems too good to be true: to live with a staggering salary for a couple of months at Sir Peter Spencer’s family home Morton Abbey in order to prepare the necessary paperwork for it to be sold. Vaughan finds Morton to be a forbidding, austere place where someone or someones unknown seem set on preventing her work and driving her away, creating noises in the uninhabited wings and leaving the toys of a deceased child about the place. That, combined with Sir Peter’s ornery younger brother who she is supposed to find in residence makes her new employment a formidable task as she gradually unearths the families - and Morton’s - secrets. You know I love a good gothic read like this with twisted, aristocratic families and old houses big enough to contain all their secrets and this is one of the good ones - engaging, atmospheric, with a satisfying ending, a good thread of strong but not over the top romance, complex mysteries that are not at all guessable and a heroine who is both relatable and admirable. Do pre-order a copy (it’s out on 26th October) if this sounds like it’s for you, or if you at all enjoyed The Quickening, The Animals at Lockwood Manor, or Lying with Lions.
I have to say, this novel wasn't what I was expecting but it is better than my first impression. The beginning started off a little slow but I was able to keep going. It was unputdownable. The ending left beyond speechless and I'm so glad it ended the way I was hoping it would. I highly recommend if you love historical fiction. You won't be disappointed.
Ooooooooooo this book was so good!! This book has all of the elements needed for success. The main character Vaughan is a determined young women who wants to have a more fulfilling life than the one she is expected to live. She accepts employment from a suspiciously absent employer who expects her to succeed in her mission despite all who may be opposed it. Vaughan is subjected to a dark, sinister house that is home to even more disagreeable residents. The house unveils more than just an invalid and uncooperative staff. Unexplainable noises seem to come from everywhere making Vaughan second guess herself. She rallies by making allies but is it enough to unveil the truth behind the job she's been hired to do and to solve the mysteries she has unearthed? Harwood has found a niche genre for herself and I hope that she continues to write many more in this style. I received a copy of this title via NetGalley.
I really enjoyed this book! It was a spooky read, with a feisty main character and a shabby old mansion set out on the moors, several handsome men who may or may not be who they seem...just a fun read that I flew through in 2 days. If you enjoy gothic mysteries, you will like this one. Definitely an author I would like to read more from!
My thanks to Clarissa Harwood, Thornfield Press and Net Galley for the ARC of THE CURSE OF MORTON ABBEY. Oh, my, how I loved this. I knew I would when I saw the cover. It promised mystery, suspense and gothic shivers and they were there in buckets. The romantic interest was a complete surprise but very satisfying. Quite shocking in parts, not everyone will be comfortable perhaps, but it was not gratuitous. Can't wait for the next one! Recommended. 5 super stars.
If you are a fan of gothic romance, Morton Abbey makes you yearn for the days of dark brooding heroes and things that go bump in the night. Neither of the protagonists are perfect, which gives the book added kudos IMO. After the death of her father, which our heroine worked with on his business, something unheard of during that time, she sets out to do the impossible. Be considered as something other than a feather headed vessel for someones next generation. She has a brain and uses it wisely - for the most part - even when facing challenging decisions. Even our hero is not perfect. But that makes him no less engaging. Several times I found myself on the edge of my seat, determined to find out if my hunches for the mysterious happenings were correct. The ending was much more than I imagined or hoped for.
They had me with #gothic, luring me back into the books I loved as a kid. Another gem I stumbled upon with #Netgalley, I absolutely adored The Curse of Morton Abbey. The characters were excellent, the dialogue was snappy, and I was sad when I finished. Vaughan is an anomaly in 1890s London, she has a lame foot, doesn't consider herself attractive, and isn't interested in "girly" things they way her sisters and mother are. Her father teaches her to read the law, and she becomes his clerk, which she loves. But then he passes, and she doesn't have the means to actually become a lawyer so she finds a position cleaning out a library and settling the estate of Morton Abbey, hoping she can earn enough cash to set herself to live independently. Sir Peter hires her sight unseen, believing her to be a man. Her arrival at Morton Abbey turns the decaying mansion upside down, and its inhabitants do everything they can to scare her away. But Vaughan is one tough cookie and brooks no nonsense! She matches wits with Sir Peter's invalid brother, Nick, and when she begins helping him catalog his gems and minerals, an unlikely friendship is born. Vaughan is fabulous, and I was rooting for her all the way. This one is no Jane Eyre, and I was pleased with the way Harwood ends her novel. One of my few 5-star reads in 2021!
Set in 1890s Yorkshire, this splendid book contains the perfect amount of darkness and drips with Gothic atmosphere. You can't throw a brick without hitting it. Yet it's not scary in a horror/supernatural sort of way. Female solicitors in this era are extremely rare. Not only is Vaughan Springthorpe intelligent, she is spirited and also has foibles...don't we all? She has a disability which you read about very early on so this isn't spoiling it. I like the inclusion of realistic touches. Lord Peter Spencer becomes her client and when she moves into Morton Abbey temporarily, she discovers more than a job. Much more. The house, though very dead, seems to have a personality of its own from eerie crying at night to an intrusion to pervasive melancholy to secrets galore. Vaughan desires nothing more than to get her work done and get out. Nicholas Spencer, the younger brother, is an invalid with shifty moods and a passion for the house. His character is extremely interesting. And then there is the young and handsome gardener, Joe Dixon. He is kind and gentle and adores working with plants. Vaughan finds herself pulled in, yet repulsed. Fascinating dynamic. The plots and subplots keep coming yet not over the top whatsoever. Romance is also in the air. We also see wrestling and reckoning with pasts, the present and future. So much to love here. My favourite aspects are the beautifully described atmosphere and characters. I adore books about old houses, especially those with a touch of the gothic. The writing is gorgeous and in ways I felt like I was right there in the thick of things. Do not hesitate to read this book. Get lost in it. My sincere thank you to Victory Editing NetGalley Co-op for the privilege of reading this highly-enjoyable book!
"The Curse of Morton Abbey" by Clarissa Harwood was right up my street. Being a fan of "Jane Eyre" and other gothic fiction it was easy to categorise the characters into types, and even guess some of the plot outcomes, especially when it came to the romantic angle. The story itself is pure gothic - mysterious figures, noises, brooding males, innocent heroines and a romantic angle. This book though is pushing the feminism theme a little bit more than say period gothic novels and it was refreshing to see that Vaughan embark on her career as a solicitor.
The Curse of Morton Abbey by Clarissa Harwood Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers Publisher: Thornfield Press Publish Date: 26 October 2021 Star Rating: 5/5 This book is amazing! Childhood me loved the classic novel “The Secret Garden” and now adult me has found the adult version of “The Secret Garden” but with a mix of “Jane Eyre” and then it transforms into its own story. With amazing characters who develop wonderfully and the dialogue between them all is on point. The book begins with Vaughan, an educated woman, devoted to her solicitor father who raised her to be his assistant. However, the idolized father has died and Vaughan and her mother must go to live with her eldest sister's family. Vaughan is desperate to escape the fate of a burdensome spinster with empty days and become a solicitor like her father. But she is a woman in a man's world in late Victorian England. With a masculine-sounding name and support from her father's law friends, Vaughan is able to secure a temporary live-in position at Morton Abbey to sort out the legal papers in preparation for the sale of the estate. However, the owner is traveling the continent, his sick brother is ill tampered and bedridden, the house is haunting, there is own three staff members on the estate and one is a handsome gardener and soon the cries of a child are heard at night… but there are no children on the estate. Could Vaughan be slowly going insane? Are there more dark secrets hiding just out of sight and what happens when the educated strong woman grounded in logic starts to have feelings… Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an E-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Morton Abbey is the central character in this story. A large, gloomy, damp estate is what greets Vaughan when she arrives to do a job that appears to be too good to be true. A lady solicitor in Victorian times can't afford to be choosey however, especially one like Vaughan who is determined to be independent of her family. She meets two very different men. Joe, the gardener, who is thoughtful and kind and Nicolas, her employer's younger brother, who is rude and surly. There are many layers and strands to this story. I had just come to grips with one element and something else turned up. The writing is wonderfully atmospheric. You can feel the chill when the author is describing the moldy, crumbling house. The mystery was perfectly done. I thought I had guessed what was happening but then it went off on another tangent. The romance was a slow burner but grew in depth over the course of the book but I thought the ending was a bit abrupt. The book starts slowly but this was laying the ground work for what became an incredible story. There are definitely shades of Jane Eyre in it. People who enjoy the books of Laura Purcell would certainly love this one. Thanks to Thornfield Press and Netgalley for an early copy of this book to read.
The Curse of Morton Abbey by Clarissa Harwood tells the story of Vaughan Springthorpe a young woman who dreams of being a solicitor like her father. Her father as died and her family expects her to move to her sisters what they are unaware of is that she has taken a position at Morton Abbey. She is unaware of the curse of Morton Abbey or that there are many who do not want her there. The Curse of Morton Abbey is the first work by Clarissa Harwood that I have read. I was hooked from the beginning. The clues were just enough to keep the reader guessing and the ending did not disappoint. Harwood provided answers to all the things that went bump in the night. The characters are easy to relate and the story moved at a good pace. There is just enough romance, mystery, history and twist to intrigue every type of reader. Thank you to Clarissa Harwood, NetGalley and Victory Editing NetGalley Co-op, Thornfield Press for an E-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What a great read The Curse of Morton Abbey by Clarissa Harwood . My first gothic novel ,Miss Vaughan lost her father who died resently. He was a solicitor and she worked along side of him and was as good as his work, but this was 1890s where it wasn't heared of a woman working in that field. Determined not to rely on her family for support ,she seeks work . She gets a place working at Morton Abbey preparing paper work for the sale of the estate. Nothing is as it seems at the Abbey book full of suspense and romance too. Highly recommend the book to our readers . Clarissa Harwood is on my list for must reads! Thank you Netgally for letting me preview this book
This was a really interesting read and different than what I was initially expecting. I can definitely see it being a combination of Jane Eyre and The Secret Garden. It was a little slow at the beginning, but then it really picked up and sucked me in. The atmosphere throughout the whole thing was dark and Gothic. Everything was held in suspense and I kept wondering what exactly was going on. There were so many questions and mysteries. It was thoroughly enjoyable and ended in a satisfying manner. The characters were lovable, and the beginning may have been slower, but a lot of that was just learning about the characters and coming to care about them. I was invested in their stories. An exciting adventure that gave me the Gothic vibes I needed.
I really loved The Curse of Morton Abbey, it has so many excellent elements that make it amazing. The cover is also gorgeous and I was sold at gothic romance.
This book filled my gothic-loving heart. When I saw the comps--Janey Eyre meets The Secret Garden, there was no way I was not requesting. This book was a delight from start to finish and I flew through it, reading long into the night, sucked in with the Victorian details, the gloomy, atmospheric setting, and the sheer mystery of it all. Loaded with every gothic trope I adore--a rambling abbey, a brooding byronic hero, and dark secrets, this will definitely stay on my favorites list! Reminiscent of the Brontes and Du Maurier.
This was a pleasant reading experience. The book falls firmly into the gothic romance genre but there are also touches of suspense and mystery. The mystery aspect involves trying to locate a missing will which could make all the difference in the dispensation of property of an estate in the north of England, Yorkshire to be specific. Spinster Miss Vaughan Springthorpe turns out to be an easy to like heroine of the late 1890s who is confident enough in herself to cuss out loud (but usually without anybody there to hear her) to carve out a career for herself in a world usually reserved for men (the law) and to travel, alone, to a moldy and damp manor house to complete the legal contract for the sale of the estate. Vaughn doesn't instantly charm all the residents of the house, much to my delight because it made her a much more interesting person for me. There is a love story with heaps of obstacles to be overcome and the heroine even has a physical disability that is used very well by the author to make us - the readers - like Vaughan just a little bit better every time she overcomes an obstacle. Gothic Romance is not my genre of choice but there were lots of things I enjoyed about this novel. Thank you to NetGalley and Victory Editing NetGalley co-op, Thornfield Press for an e-galley of this novel.
This is my third read by Harwood and it definitely lived up to the others. This falls well into the trend of gothic atmospheric novels that is on the rise. When Vaughan comes to Morton Abbey it is both a last resort and a first step toward freedom. Freedom she can achieve if someone, or possibly the house itself, fails to drive her away.
Oh, wow! Where to start? This book has everthing going for it. There's the remote, isolated and dark estate. A creepy atmosphere I could easily picture. Strange goings on, surprises, and twists. Well drawn characters, especially the heroine, Vaughn Springthorpe, with a romance full of longing and worthy of Jane Eyre. The references to Jane Eyre and The Secret Garden are spot on and skillfully handled to create this well-written story. I absolutely loved every moment of this throughly entertaining read. I highly recommend it! And as a plus, it is a clean read, no graphic content or crude language. P.S. Thank you for the opportunity to review this wonderful book. I wish it much success! I will post this review on Amazon and B&N on the release date.
Everything about this book captured my attention - the gorgeous cover, the premise, and the author! It did not disappoint. I thoroughly enjoyed this atmospheric story with its blend of gothic romance and history in a classic style. It is one to be remembered and reread and definitely to recommend!