The Belladonna Maze

a gripping and haunting new novel for 2022 from an Irish bestselling author

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Pub Date 05 May 2022 | Archive Date 05 May 2022

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Please note that this is an early proof file.

From bestselling crime novelist and renowned Irish TV journalist Sinéad Crowley, gripping dual timelines entwine in this heart-stopping story of old secrets and forbidden passion.

An old house can hold many secrets. Hollowpark in the west of Ireland certainly does. At the heart of the gardens is an intricate maze, named after a deadly poison, Belladonna. If you know the way through, it's magical, a hiding place and playground like no other. If you don't, it's a place of fear and sinister riddles, where a young girl once went missing and was never seen again.

Grace comes to Hollowpark as a nanny for young Skye FitzMahon. Soon the mysterious past of Hollowpark has seduced her. Who is the woman she sometimes glimpses in an upstairs window? Or the apparition who keeps showing up unexpectedly, pleading, 'Find me'. And how can she fight her growing attraction to Skye's father?

Praise for Sinéad Crowley:
'The Belladonna Maze is spine tinglingly magnificent! Hugely atmospheric and completely engrossing it pulls you in and holds you captive until the very last word. Utterly unputdownable!' Steph Broadribb
'Beautifully written, and deftly plotted... So compelling that the pages almost turned themselves. A terrific novel' Liz Nugent
'Compelling, clever and deeply romantic, the plot has more twists and turns than the maze itself... A welcome return to fiction by one of Ireland's most accomplished crime writers... A joy to read' Jane Casey
'Prepare to lose yourself in The Belladonna Maze, a sweeping saga that embraces mystery, history and romance. If you're still missing Maeve Binchy, this one's for you' Erin Kelly
'Atmospheric, creepy, utterly engrossing and as twisty-turny as the maze itself' Tammy Cohen

Please note that this is an early proof file.

From bestselling crime novelist and renowned Irish TV journalist Sinéad Crowley, gripping dual timelines entwine in this heart-stopping story of old...

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ISBN 9781801105613
PRICE $1.99 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

I read this book really quickly, it was darkly atmospheric and completely gripping, with a level of unpredictability that had me on the edge of my seat. It was well written with a good storyline and characters that were well developed.I really enjoyed it.

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Pub Date 05 May 2022 Thanks to NetGalley and Head of Zeus for uncorrected arc
Publisher summary:
"An old house can hold many secrets. Hollowpark in the west of Ireland certainly does. At the heart of the gardens is an intricate maze, named after a deadly poison, Belladonna. If you know the way through, it's magical, a hiding place and playground like no other. If you don't, it's a place of fear and sinister riddles, where a young girl once went missing and was never seen again.

Grace comes to Hollowpark as a nanny for young Skye FitzMahon. Soon the mysterious past of Hollowpark has seduced her. Who is the woman she sometimes glimpses in an upstairs window? Or the apparition who keeps showing up unexpectedly, pleading, 'Find me'

Our hero is Grace, a professional nanny, Grace has a routine, her summers are spent working on a Greek island and winters are spent working in temporary nanny posts in chilly Britain, that is, until a turn of events leads to her acceptance of a job in Ireland.
This is where the real adventures begin. The story unfolds over two time periods, the 1840s where we meet the then inhabitants of Hollowpark and 2007 when Grace first arrives. The author meshes these different times beautifully
Of course, all is not as it seems and, believe me, there are little twists and turns from beginning to end, all very Agatha Christie!
Oh how I enjoyed this story! You know you have found exactly the right book for you when you find yourself put off doing all those things you ought to be doing, just so as you can get back to reading this intriguing, captivating tale.
This is an ideal weekend read for those who love a good mystery that is a little "other worldly" yet is not too dark

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I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

This is a mystery/thriller set in Ireland, featuring a dual timeline and supernatural elements with a gothic feel. One timeline is in set in the 1840s (therefore dealing with the Great Famine, An Gorta Mór) and the other in more recent times, 2007.

Grace moves to Hollowpark after a long absence in order to be Skye FitzMahon's nanny. Hollowpark is home to many secrets, ghosts and an intricate maze.

This book instantly gripped and captivated me, it's full of mystery and unexpected twists.

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This was an entertaining mystery with a supernatural element and a familiar past to present chapter set up. The writing enabled me to visualise an atmospheric setting and I particularly liked the scenes in the tower. I did find the ending a little cliched and perhaps too neat. But overall I enjoyed this novel and will be recommending it as a good read to others.

I received this arc from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

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Sweeping from Greece to an ancient castle in Ireland I enjoyed the setting, the mystery and the ghostly characters.
Told on dual timelines the characters were well drawn and likeable, even the villain of the tale.
A nice little twist or two at the end,
I did find it perhaps a little drawn out, and lengthier that it needed to be, but feel that the majority of readers will enjoy this book.

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Loved this novel, it’s a gripping dual timelines entwine in this heart-stopping story of old secrets and forbidden passion. WOW! What a rollercoaster ride this book was!… Totally gripped from the beginning…

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An exciting story which grips you through to the end. A mixture of family life in an old house in Ireland with a bit of supernatural woven in.. Gracie appealed to me as a person and I think I'd have liked to have her as a Nanny. The FitzMahon family never seemed to be quite in control of their lives.
I found the two time lines an interesting way to develop the story of Grace's time as a Nanny to the FitzMahons, with the backstory of the family woven in.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the chance to read and review this book.

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I really enjoyed this story. Part mystery, part ghost story. It wasn’t an overly long story and was really well paced to keep youfully engrossed throughout and I would completely recommend. Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for allowing me access to an early copy.

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An enjoyable read that kept you guessing until the end. The author skillfully wove different timelines to unfold the story. All the characters were clearly drawn which made them easy to believe in.

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I loved this novel.

Grace accepts to be the nanny of a nice little girl, she moves back to Ireland after a long time she has worked in England and Europe. When she arrives at Hollowpark Hall she is charmed by the big, historical mansion, but pretty soon she discovers there are more residents than she expected that want her help to solve a mysterious incident happened years before.

The strenghth of the story for me are the characters, they are well developped and realistically depicted, they have such a depth I could feel their emotions. They pulled on my heartstrings and they crept on my mind so much I couldn't forget them after I have closed my book.
My favourite is Deirdre, she was a smart and feisty woman and she was never scared. Her life was troubled but she never left her house.

The Belladonna Maze is a pretty long story, with a lot of fascinating descriptions of the places, a plethora of characters with their own stories to tell, and a good mystery to solve. I know it could be confusing but on the contrary even the smallest thing piqued my curiousity.

The author wonderfully tied the loose ends, with some twists and shocking revelations, she skillfully intertwined the double timeline, past and present stories and characters that inhabited Hollowpark Hall are essential for the pleasure of this read.

I wished a little more involvement of the ghosts because I love my paranormal mystery as much but this is the only criticism that I can do.

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I found this an enjoyable ghostly mystery set mostly in Ireland in a manor house called Hollowpark and centred around the family that has owned it for many years.

The main character, Grace, is a nanny who moves around different countries looking after children, but doesn't stay very long in one place. But when she meets the FitzMahons on their holiday and is persuaded to come back to Ireland to be little Skye's nanny she gets embroiled in the mysteries surrounding Hollowpark in the past.

There's a couple of ghosts in the property, and Grace can see them, although tries to pretend they're not there most of the time. There's also a maze and a tower overlooking it, which is where a lot of the ghostly goings on seem centred.

The story is a dual timeline, which I always enjoy, and whilst I enjoyed most of the story I did find Grace a little bit irritating at times. But there was certainly a lot going on, and lots of twists and turns, and things I didn't see coming (one in particular), so in the end it was an enjoyable read for me with a satisfying ending.

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This starts in Ireland, 1825. Hollowpark is located in the west of Ireland. Ciaran and Deidre are friends despite she being the only child of the owners of Hollowpark and he being the gardeners son. They spend most of their time playing in the Belladonna maze. In 1840 Deidre is grown up, drifted away from the childhood friendship with Ciaran, who now calls her ma’am, and a newlywed to Laurence, a man she loves but does he reciprocate her feelings? A death occurs but was it the accident it appears to be?

2007 and after saving her life on holiday Grace comes to Hollowpark as a nanny for Skye FitzMahon. She’s fighting her growing attraction to Skye’s father but is also mesmerised by the mysterious past of Hollowpark.

I have only recently started reading historical fiction and it’s a genre that I really do enjoy reading. I loved this book. It was atmospheric, creepy and I enjoyed the way it flitted between the 1800’s and modern times.

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When Grace accepts a job as nanny to a young Irish family, she doesn’t expect to end up living in a stately home. And she doesn’t expect that home to be haunted.

The past and present are cleverly woven together in this story about the residents and staff of the house. I enjoyed reading about the estate’s history and the belief held by many generations of inhabitants that “Hollowpark looks after its own”. Although I wouldn’t normally choose to read a ghost story, and while the ghosts play an integral part in the story, the emphasis is very much on the living, human inhabitants.

I received a free advanced copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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3.5 stars rounded down

An old house can hold many secrets. Hollowpark in the West of Ireland certainly does. At the heart of the gardens is an intricate maze. named after a deadly poison, Belladonna. If you know the way through, it's magical, a hiding place and playground like no other, If you don't, it's a place of fear and sinister riddles., where a young girl once went missing and was never seen again. Grace comes to Hollowpark as a nanny to young Skye FitzMahon. soon the mysterious past of Hollowpark has seduced her.

This mystery has a supernatural element to it. The book is descriptively written and told from Grace's perspective. Grace is Skye's nanny. With it's dual timeline we learn of events taking place in the present day, 2007 and some of the house and grounds history in the 1840s, told in the past. The characters are well drawn, believable and likeable. There's a nice couple of twists. I did feel parts of the book were a little drawn out. The pace is steady throughout.

I would like to thank #Netgalley #HeadofZeus and the author #SineadCrowley for my ARC of #TheBelladonnaMaze in exchange doe an honest review.

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Hollowpark House has a maze named after the poisonous plant Belladonna. It can either be a exciting adventure or a scary experience where on Halloween a young girl went missing.
Grace comes to Hollowpark as a nanny but is soon seeing a face at a window but what is it trying to tell her and can she find out the answers to the many questions that she is faced with?

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ooh if you want a gothic and creepy feel of a novel set in Ireland then this is the book for you. The house in the novel is dark and mysterious and it has a maze with belladonna in it which is poison! Oh now there is a great premise!

Grace moves to Hollowpark to work as a nanny for Skye FitzMahon'. There is something supernatural and not right at all in the house.

There's two timelines in 2007 and in 1840s , the latter of which mentions the Great Famine, An Gorta Mór and other real life events which really helps to ground the novel.
I love this kind of feel of a book and the writing really helped captivate that.

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This story opens in 1825. Hollowpark Hall is owned by the Fitzmahon family, and is a beautiful house in an idyllic setting. Dierdre is the feisty young daughter of the family, and she loves to play in the grounds, particularly the maze. Jump forward to 2007, and Grace, a nanny/children’s club rep, is working the summer season in Greece. The two worlds collide when Grace meets an ancestor of Hollowpark, and the story develops from there.

Written across years from 1825 to 2008, this is an enjoyable book, if a little cliched at times. It is part ghost story, part family saga, and the two are interspersed well. In the main I liked the characterisation, but found Grace a bit bland. Although I read the book quickly, it does drag on rather and could have done with being more succinct. The ending was as expected, a pity as the book had more going for it than it’s predictably.

3.5* rounded up to 4*.

Thank you NetGalley.

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Story well written, captivating unpredictable mystery & great characters. Page turner & easy to read.

I am voluntarily reviewing a copy I received free from NetGalley .

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I was given an ARC of this story and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I particularly liked how it switched from past to present, each gradually unfolding the plot and the reasons behind it.

The past highlighted how badly women were treated – no money, no inheritance and constantly under the control of men. It certainly demonstrated that females were not valued. The present showed that women do have more control and yet men can cause so many problems because of their ego and how they feel entitled to whatever they want. Having said that, not all the men in this story were awful.

I enjoyed the mystery and the paranormal touches, while the tension and suspense kept my interest from beginning to end. It was a sad yet engaging story, very well written with a great sense of place. The characters fitted well into the plot and the tie between past and present was excellently done.

No spoilers but I will say that this is a brilliant story and one I would highly recommend.

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A good story with suspense running through it. Grace was a very likeable character and the story kept me interested until the end.

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Be ready to read through the night, it is absolutely impossible to put this gem down. An eerie and mesmerising story taking place in a mysterious Irish estate over two very different eras . A story of family, belonging, love, magic, treason and redemption which will honestly leave you breathless. A rally beautiful and surprising read which I highly recommend.

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I absolutely loved this book. It was incredibly atmospheric and I could not put it down. It's told over different timelines and from different POV which made it all the more compelling. I cannot recommend it enough.

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This was a compelling read. It was atmospheric and held my interest throughout. I particularly liked the dual timeline aspect and found both parts to be engrossing.

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This is a very accomplished read - effortlessly weaving past and present in two storylines well told. The gothic touches echo Northanger Abbey and Rebecca and a sense of otherworldliness is well drawn. As is to be expected, the modern storyline is snappy and feels familiar and true to life. This would be a great summer beach read which will leave the reader guessing to the end. One minor quibble is that the ending is a little too tidy, too quickly but having said that it is a satisfactory ending which ties up all loose ends

Thanks to the author, publisher and Net Galley for the ARC

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I was absolutely fascinated by this book. I love how it flicked between different times / generations of the family to tell the story, and how the house protecting its own was such a theme. The slight paranormal aspect thrown in was great too! I found the characters super likeable, and definitely did not see that ending coming!!

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Grace loves her career, working her summers in holiday kids’ clubs in Greece and the rest of the year as a nanny in London. Just when she thinks it’s time to settle down more, a couple she meets in Greece offer her a permanent nanny job in County Roscommon.
Hollowpark Hall is a stately pile in need of much work. Patrick Fitzmahon with his wife and his mother have a dream to restore it, to start guided tours around it and more, but money is tight. Moving into Hollowpark and looking after Patrick and Isla’s little girl seems like a dream come true. But before long Grace needs to puts Hollowpark’s ghosts to rest, ghosts unsettled by unfair dealings in the past.
The Belladonna Maze is a rolling mystery/ghost story, alternating in the periods between 1825 and 2007, and a very enjoyable experience it is too. Well written and easily read, while not ground-breaking stuff, Sinead Crowley systemically presents the stories, an atmospheric backdrop and the answers to the unsolved mysteries.
Great holiday read potential.

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What an awesome, amazing book. I defy anyone not to be utterly enthralled at the twists and turns this excellent book takes.
Highly recommended. You will not be disappointed!

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I loved this book ,set in Ireland ,Hollowpark is a country mansion which has many secrets and also a wonderful maze. This story has a supernatural element to it which makes it even more interesting .The story is set in two time lines 1825 and 2007 ,very atmospheric, charming and mysterious an excellent read .Thank you to NetGalley fro my ARC.

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Grace's job offer to be Skye's nanny came at the best possible time. She needed a change of scenery and taking care of the little girl would be a real pleasure. She had no plans to return to Ireland, but once there she surprised herself by enjoying the scenery. She knew so little of her country that she would take the opportunity to tour the surrounding area. What she never imagined was that she would live in a place like Hollowpark.

Despite the extensive restoration work it needed, Hollowpark retained much of its former beauty and majesty. Secluded from the town, surrounded by gardens and with its own labyrinth, life there was just what Grace was looking for.

She was a practical woman who neither believed in ghosts nor was easily frightened. The first time something happened to her for which she had no explanation, she put it down to fatigue. But as she became more familiar with the place, these incidents occurred more frequently. She began to be afraid, she wanted to stay especially because she was needed there. But would she be able to?

The Belladonna Maze is a very complete, interesting and absorbing novel. It has just the right doses of suspense, drama and love. I liked the author's style. Her prose is enjoyable, thorough and with very good descriptions without being excessive.

It is written in two different time threads: the past that takes place in 1825 and the year 2007. They complement each other very well, although the past, from my point of view is much more interesting and better set. I would have liked this part to be longer than the one that takes place in 2007.

The characters are very well characterized. The author knows how to capture our interest and is able to hold it until the end which is by far the most surprising part of the story.

A reading that does not leave indifferent. Highly recommended.

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It took me a little while to get into the book but once I was pulled in, I was hooked!
I love the gothic elements and switching POVs between the present with Grace and the past, showing the history of Hollowpark Hall. I think the history/haunting aspects could’ve been more developed as it’s more of a family saga with some mystery and ghosts thrown in.

The pacing was good and had some excellent plot twists I didn’t see coming! I didn’t like the “romance” between Isla and Patrick-I think the book would’ve been much better without it. Less of the “love” story and more of the ghost story and Deirdre. Their ending is honestly what made me drop a half star rating. It’s cliche and doesn’t make sense given their characters, it felt like a forced “happily ever after.”

This will be perfect for the fall and I highly recommend everyone to read it during spooky season!

Rating: 4.5 but rounded down to 4

TW/CW: grief, death, infant death, starvation, miscarriage, domestic violence

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My first read from this author and this style of book in a while. Following Childcare Nanny Grace who returns from Greece to to look after Skye in a old very large ancestral house in Ireland who many believe is haunted. Some strange comings and going’s and in part difficult to believe. However we’ll written and easy to follow. Thanks to Sinead and her publisher. Also to NetGalley for the advanced copy.

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Thoroughly enjoyed this 4⭐️ The Belladonna Maze is every bit as deadly as it sounds. The book takes as many twists and turns as the maze but keeps you hooked until the end. Ghostly goings on at Hollowpark to keep you up all night! 👻

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A superb read, with echoes of Ireland that will resonate with anyone who has been there. The present and past exist seamlessly side by side in the atmospheric story centred around the family that live at Hollowpark. The usual ghost stories that surround an old mansion are going to be useful when tourists can come to stay. But there is more than a grain of truth to a story and the local amateur historian has his eye on the prize. But the house will look after its own and only give up what it wants to. An absorbing tale with a delightful end.

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An interesting, mysterious, enjoyable read. Set in Ireland and covering different time periods , I settled into the story and loved the supernatural element and was eager to find out why the ghost continued to appear in the old mansion and maze. The house holds many secrets of distant and more recent crimes, the period of the potato famin is one of the biggest crimes in Irish history where little was done to help the people survive when they were weak from starvation. This only covers a small part of the book but has incredible repercussions.

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Hollowpark is an old country house in the West of Ireland. Like all old houses it has its secrets like what happened to the husband of the daughter of the house who mysteriously fell from a window, what happened to the young girl who went to a party there in the 1990s and was never seen again. Set in several different time periods, this is a mystery novel with some supernatural elements and also a romance.

This isn't a genre I would normally read. I tend to take a wide berth when it comes to the supernatural but I loved the name of the book and anything with a maze in it hooks me in, I'm glad I read this. It was very enjoyable and the characters were sympathetic and believable. The supernatural wasn't too overbearing. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

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The Belladonna Maze is a family saga mixed with a ghost story. It is a dual timeline story following the Fitzmahon family at Hollowpark House in Ireland both in the 1800s and 2007. In the past, there are themes of the dominance of men over women, family expectations and issues of poverty and famine. In the modern day the family employs a nanny, Grace, whom they meet on holiday in Greece, to look after their young daughter Skye. Tragic events that happened in the past end up having a huge impact on the modern Fitzmahon family and Grace gets caught up in the secrets and lies, unearthing shocking information. There were unexpected twists and a few ghostly happenings, and I enjoyed the book. It kept me interested throughout but I did have a few issues with the plot. I didn't particularly warm to the characters who would have benefited from a bit more development, especially Deirdre and Grace. What was the origin of the idea that Hollowpark protects it's own, and some of the more supernatural elements of the story? What happened to Deirdre in later life? Why was there no further discussion about Grace's early life once she got to Hollowpark, when it had seemed important early on? Why was it so easy for Patrick to accept the outcome regarding Skye? .There were some threads of the plot that seemed to fizzle out and the ending was a little too tidy. On the whole though it was a good story, definitely readable and enjoyable, and the dual timeline aspect worked well, but for me there were elements that could have been better executed. Many thanks to the author, Netgalley and Head of Zeus for gifting me an advance digital copy in exchange for an honest review. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4

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This is a thrilling, atmospheric novel which draws you in from the very first page. Set in two timeframes, the 1840s and 2007, and told by two different women in different circumstances. The story begins with Dierdre, who is a young girl living with her family at Hollowpark, an old mansion set in the west of Ireland. The second timeframe is set in 2007, when Grace becomes employed to work as a nanny to Skye, the family now living at Hollowpark.
This is the first book I have read by this author, and the writing is superb. You become completely absorbed in the characters, mysterious old house with its dark draughty passages, chilling shadows and drama. I loved this book, finding the characters relatable and likeable developing as the story unfolds.
The intriguing, well drawn plot is chilling, with enough twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Highly recommended.

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*Love* a book with split timelines! Beautiful prose, lots of twisty turny goodness and compelling characters. Don't let this one pass you by!

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This book was everything and more. I absolutely love the different timelines, I feel it adds depth to the characters and how we get to the ending. And wow, what an ending, it truly was a huge surprise. The twists and turns had me gripped, I nearly cancelled clients so I could finish it quicker!
The characters were so easy to connect with, I felt the hatred, the fear, the love. I wonderfully well written book.
Thank you to the author, netgalley and head of zeus for an arc copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Thank you to #NetGalley for my advance copy of #TheBelladonnaMaze by #SinėadCrowley

Grace loves her life spending Winter in England as a nanny and then Summer working in hotels in the Mediterranean looking after Children in the Kidz Clubs there. But when she’s offered the chance to go back to Ireland as a full time nanny she decides to take the job.
The house is fabulous and her charge Skye Fitzmahon a little sweetheart., but something is wrong and she could be in danger but from what and how she doesn’t know. A gripping atmospheric novel set in both the present and the past.
An absorbing read.

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I really enjoyed this book. I am a fan of dual timeline historical fiction and of murder/mysteries so two of the things I love in a book were combined in this one book obviously made it a strong possibility that I would find this a good read!
On the face of it the book is about a maze in the gardens of Hollowpark, a location in Ireland where much of the book is set. But the book is also about the people who live there, who have lived there, and those who have died there.
There were bits of the book that niggled with me slightly- the main protagonist constantly saying/thinking she should leave but never actually doing so, some lack of clarity about dates/the passing of time in the present day and the rather sickly American-style happy ending, but once I got into the book, which admittedly didn't take me very long, I really wanted to keep reading. Thanks go to NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read an advance copy.

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