The Parlour Game

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Pub Date 31 Aug 2022 | Archive Date 22 Oct 2022

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Description

DEATH IS ONLY THE BEGINNING... a dark gothic tale for fans of The Clockwork Girl and The Woman in Black.

London, 1873.

Ivy Granger, an amateur botanist, is plagued by disturbing dreams and faceless whispers. Misunderstood by her father, she fears for her sanity - threatened with the asylum or worse, the hands of the man she loathes.

But a stranger at her mother’s funeral reveals Ivy’s world has been a lie and she could have a different life, for she is capable of so much more...

Miss Earnshaw, London’s most renowned spiritualist, is Ivy’s only hope of revealing what secrets her mother took to the grave and discovering her true purpose.

Ivy’s journey for knowledge takes her to Blackham House, a building haunted by a terrible past - full of macabre artefacts and ancient studies of the supernatural. But behind closed doors, the Blackhams collect more than relics alone, and Ivy will soon find herself at the centre of a conspiracy spanning generations and a hidden evil waiting to be unleashed.

Can Ivy survive in a world where women must play their part or risk being silenced?

This book explores Victorian themes of death, violence, suicide, addiction, abuse, and mental health.

DEATH IS ONLY THE BEGINNING... a dark gothic tale for fans of The Clockwork Girl and The Woman in Black.

London, 1873.

Ivy Granger, an amateur botanist, is plagued by disturbing dreams and faceless...


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Average rating from 67 members


Featured Reviews

A creepy novel about a missing spiritualist, but I will not spoil it for the reader by saying what happens next, but I would recommend it as a good read, since it kept me up late reading it. Thank you to netgalley and the publishers for giving me a copy of the book.

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Stunning. Exciting, dramatic and atmospheric. This is the best book I’ve read in a while; l loved the setting and imagery, the mystery and secrets and although the final denouement and revelations were a little extreme, it worked for the style already established by the author. I couldn’t get through this fast enough and am genuinely upset to have finished it. Will definitely be recommending it.

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The Parlour Game by Jennifer Renshaw is a wonderfully creppy novel which had me hooked from the start. I highly recommend this book

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I’m not a big fan of going back in time, but when I read the overview for this book, I knew I had to read it! I was not disappointed and recommend this book for the historical mystery lover. You’re going to love this one and find it hard to put down.

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This book needs a prequel. I would love the history of Rosetta, Lillian and the Blackhams. I am also wondering if it is going to be a series. I think it would be marvelous.
Nothing like good freaky family history to mess up a good party. The beginning of the story with kept me reading with the Funeral for Ivy’s mom and then to the Parlour game to really get things moving.
I felt for Ivy in this story. She was trying so hard and it seemed like everything she was doing was wrong.
I got through this book pretty fast. There was a lot of excitement and things happening to keep me interested.
I do have questions. Why didn’t Miss Earnshaws housekeeper help Ivy? What happened to the help from the Vicar and his housekeeper? Some things were left open.

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A gripping, creepy, and entertaining gothic historical novel with a pinch of paranormal.
I liked it and hope this is the start of a series.
Recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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“Eventually I let out a sigh and then a fraction of a moment later, something else also exhales.”

This is the perfect book for a rainy day. Grab yourself a cup of tea and dive into the dark and eerie gothic atmosphere that Jennifer Renshaw brings to you.

London 1873

“We are all the same, chasing something, the elusive thread of happiness or just being able to make it to the next day, avoiding the black hole that threatens to consume us with the fear of the unknown.”

Reeling from her mother’s death and plagued by a gift she doesn’t understand, Ivy Granger, an amateur botanist, arrives in Victorian London hoping to escape the destiny that her father chose for her. Once in the city, Ivy chases after Miss Earnshaw, a mystery woman who attended her mother’s funeral and promised to give her answers to questions that had been bothering her for most of her life.

Unfortunately, things are not as straightforward as they seem, and Ivy finds herself working as a maid in a mysterious house with a dubious and troubled past.

Trying to find Miss Earnshaw and running against the clock and the supernatural forces that inhabit Blackham House, Ivy must uncover the secrets of the Blackham family before it’s too late and she becomes their next victim.


I liked this book. Séances, ghostly apparitions, voices without a body, a house, and a family full of secrets… What is reality and what is just a dream? Is there any truth about what Ivy experiences, or is she slowly going insane?

I was completely engaged from the start until the end. Those first pages helped to set the mood. It was a slow burner, but it was worth it, although somewhere near the end things went a bit through the roof… But I rode with it.

I loved to see how Ivy grew from this sheltered and a bit naïve girl to someone who started fighting for herself. I can´t wait to see what the future has in store for her and her gifts.

On the bad side, some continuity errors had me second guessing and made me re-read some passages, along with a few spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors. I hope they will be corrected before the final version comes to the public.


I give this book a solid 4 stars

This is a book for you if you like Laura Purcell or books like The Séance or a House of Ghosts.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC. This is an honest review and all opinions are entirely mine.

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Okay, so any book that screams: Gothic/Historic/Paranormal is always guaranteed to catch my attention.
I love a Gothic novel, what can I say? I’ve not read this author before so again, something else to get me excited.

I had some sort of expectation going into this, an idea in my head of what I look for. This?………This really delivered.
It was dark, it was creepy. Spooky, seances, ghosts it had everything. The author also did a fabulous job of setting the scene and creating that eerie atmosphere that is a bare minimum needed in these sorts of books.

The characters were fully fledged, a lot of thought clearly gone into them. I’m looking forward to reading more from this author in the future.
Thank you to the author, the publisher and Netgalley for my arc.

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I'm not really into Gothic or horror books but was drawn to the description and the story.
I loved the imagery in this book..Close your eyes and your back in old London late at night with the fog closing in and who know's what else! The descriptions of places, people and flora is excellent - anyone with an imagination can place themselves inside this book.
Ivy is a likable character and you are rooting for her to escape - first from her father and then from whatever chases her, be it demons in her head or demons in the real world.
Her journey to find answers is a little drawn out but at the same time needs to be for the story to unfold and make sense.
Without giving any spoilers I feel this book is definitely the start of a series as there are some questions left unanswered. (would make a great Netflix mini series) - I will be looking out for it as would like to know what happens to Ivy next.
I would love a prequel to allow Rosetta and Lillian's stories to be told.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.
This is an honest review and all opinions are entirely mine.

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A fantastic gothic novel. The last third of the book was so gripping and tense that I couldn't sleep until I had finished it!

Readers meet aspiring botanist Ivy Granger, a young woman grieving for her beloved mother, as she embarks on a journey to London to meet with famous spiritualist Rosetta Earnshaw only to find she has gone missing. Taking a role as a housemaid in Blackham House, the location of the last known sighting of the medium, Ivy tries to uncover the mystery of her sudden disappearance. Events quickly take a sinister turn as Ivy begins to doubt her own sanity, surrounded by the strange Blackham family and their curiously loyal servants.

I loved this novel. It was so creepily atmospheric and the characters were fantastically written. Descriptions were so vivid and realistic that I could almost see the barren gardens, the dark hallways and the attic bedroom in which Ivy has to spend her nights. A perfect autumnal read for fans of well-written gothic novels!

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What an excellent book, hopefully part of a series, I would love to read more. A real Victorian Gothic book in the ' Penny Dreadful' vein. It held me right to the end and was exciting and suspenseful all the way through. Loved it !

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This was one of those stories that was intriguing and interesting because there was a LOT happening. But WOW did I love every minute!!!

I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own

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I was hooked from the very first line. The author does and exceptional job of setting the scene for this historical gothic mystery. Her ability to vividly create this 19th century setting with its dark undertones to really drive this gothic and dark setting was done so well. I really could not put this book down. I loved the protagonist and her narration really allowed me to understand her and how she views this unfair world as a sheltered girl who want to follow her dreams and is brave enough to do it as well as her curiosity. There were so many questions that needed to be answered and it kept me guessing and kept me turning the pages to get them answered, mainly what was going on in that house. I definitely enjoyed it and cannot wait for more. There are too many questions left.

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This book is riveting from start to finish. You have to read on to find out what will happen next. The author makes you feel so many different things about the characters that you can never rest and think you know what will happen next. There are so many plot twists that have been very carefully executed that you are surprised right to the very end. I was so disappointed when it finished. I hope there’s more to come for these characters.

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A gripping, gothic ghost story, this is perfect for the spooky season!

Ivy is to be wed to a man she doesn't love and her future looks oppressive, but a visit from a mysterious lady, Miss Earnshaw, who tells her she's in trouble leads her to travel from Godalming to London in search of Miss Earnshaw when she suddenly disappears without a trace. Ivy tracks down her last movements to Blackham House and starts working there as a servant to undercover the mysterious activities of the Blackham family, discoverering many more missing people are connected with this house.

This is a really well written and gripping story, nobody is quite who they seem and with voices from beyond the grave this is the perfect autumn read on a rainy day.

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The Parlour Game was an interesting, creepy read. You spend the novel wondering just how much of what is occurring is reality, or supernatural forces, or the results of the actions of other characters. This one kept me reading to find out what exactly was going on.

The protagonist, Ivy, loses her mother at the start of the novel and is left with an uncaring family. She works to follow her own course, seeking out a path that leads her into mystery. When an acquaintance goes missing, she works to find out why, and uncovers more than she was bargaining for.

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When Ivy Granger's mother dies of a mysterious illness, she is left with her father, step-brother, & interfering cousin. The funeral is barely over before they are making plans to marry Ivy off to the local undertaker, a man who has already tried to assault her once. Fortunately at the church, Ivy had been approached by a woman she had never seen before who introduced herself as Miss Earnshaw, said that she knew Ivy's mother & asked her to come to London & seek her out if she wanted to know more about her past & continue her studies as an amateur botanist. Ivy runs away from home but when she reaches Miss Earnshaw's home, she is too late. Miss Earnshaw is a semi-famous medium & she went missing after conducting a séance at the home of the Blackham family.

Ivy pays them a visit but is mistakenly taken on as a housemaid in a mix-up, but she decides to use this to her advantage & investigate Miss Earnshaw's disappearance from within the household. The cook seems quite friendly, but Hannah, the other maid is standoffish & jealously guards her 'territory', whilst the gardener is very odd indeed & seems to do precious little gardening. There are a large number of birds in the garden, especially magpies, & they seem almost otherworldly. Meanwhile Alexander Blackham is the sole surviving heir to the estate after his brother died at sea, something his mother has never gotten over. Alex's first wife & child died mysteriously & he has just returned from overseas with a new bride, but it isn't long before she starts to sicken. There is something seriously wrong at the heart of the Blackham family, & Ivy starts to wonder if Miss Earnshaw is dead rather than missing.

This turned out to be a really good Gothic horror novel. Ivy is a main character with whom it's easy to empathise & become invested in what happens to her. The strange atmosphere & sense of foreboding at the Blackham home is evoked well & although I did guess some of the twists, I didn't guess them all. I'm not sure if there will be a sequel, but there really should be because of that ending & the fact that there are several loose ends that need finishing up. There was a slightly issue with pacing as it seemed to go on just a little too long, but it's a minor quibble. Overall I rated it a 4 star read.

My thanks to NetGalley & publishers, BooksGoSocial, for the opportunity to read an ARC.

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I really loved this book! I just couldn’t put it down!
It is a superb historical fiction novel blended in with a perfect amount of gothic.
I am not sure how Ivy pulled through all of her troubles, discoveries and hardships, but she did and I felt very proud of her.
The spiritual element was perfection, and even towards the end we were still presented with revelations and truths.
You couldn’t help but just wish for her survival and escape, and I am extremely glad she found her long lost aunt and came to understand her gifts.

Absolutely would recommend for fans of historical fiction, gothic and supernatural literature.

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🥀🥀🥀🥀🥀🪶
The Parlour Game by Jennifer Renshaw

I had the opportunity to read an ARC of The Parlour Game by Jennifer Renshaw through NetGalley.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. The plot was interesting and the mystery had me intrigued. Is it her imagination? Are the voices and apparitions real? Is she crazy?

Ivy is a relatable main character- in that she doesn’t have a grand plan. Things go awry, and she hasn’t already accounted for it. She has to think on her feet, bide her time, and course correct after making mistakes.

There were parts that book felt long and the story lulled at times. That being said, I was very much invested in finding out just what in the world (or other world?) was going on. The transitions between POVs were clunky at first. Once I knew what to expect, it was fine, and the book didn’t end up switching POVs all that much.

The mysteries within the book kept me on the hook. There was no certainty on who was a friend. It seemed like everyone was keeping secrets, and dismissing questions, making it hard to trust anyone. By the time the reveal came around, I already had an inkling of what was going to happen. But. then things went off the rails. The relationships between characters was a surprise that I really appreciated.

The book wrapped up well enough that it could be a standalone, but there is more to the story, and I believe it is set up for a series (The Corvidae Hauntings.)

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

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The Parlour Game is a pretty solid debut for Jennifer Renshaw, I would not have guessed it was her first if I had not known in advance.

It is a story about a young woman named Ivy who is feeling trapped in her life situation. After her mother dies and a visit from a mysterious woman, she decides to takes things into her own hands . Things don't go as she hoped and the search for the mystery woman spurs a series events that she never imagined she would have ties to. As strange things happen and she slowly begins to make the connections, will she walk away from this alive or will she, too, become a victim ?

If you enjoy the writing style of Victoria Schwabb you're sure to enjoy The Parlour Game..

The descriptions and writing are gothic, eerie, and a bit poetic.

Ivy has a family member who she holds hostile feelings towards, from the little interaction we got with them together I don't believe Ivy's intense thoughts were warranted or deserved. This bothered me a little bit.

There was a few chapters in the middle of the book that lost my attention, thankfully it picks back up and reads fast the rest of the story.

I loved the historical nods to feminism and would recommend this as a perfect fall / Halloween month book. I really enjoyed reading this story .

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A fantastically well written historical thriller.

The Parlour Game by Jennifer Renshaw is wonderfully written, you'll find yourself firmly planted in 1873 London shortly after starting the book and you'll stay there until the end. Excited, atmospheric and attention grabbing this was a great read that I won't spoil with too many details but rest assured if you're a fan of historical gothic horror you will NOT be disappointed in this title.

It did leave me wanting to know more about some of the characters, hopefully this is the start of a series and we'll get to learn more about them, the Blackhams especially!

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The Parlour Game is a macabre, mysterious Victorian thriller. Ivy Granger is far from alright. She is haunted by the death of her mother, she hides in the shadows of depression, a solemn darkness on the verge of insanity. She feels misunderstood and has no yearnings other than to be left alone to her botanical studies. She unexpectedly meets a woman at her mother’s funeral named Miss Earnshaw who changes the course of her life and takes her places she may not have ever ventured to if she knew what awaited her.
She travels to London to study under Miss Earnshaw but she has gone missing once Ivy has arrived.
A tragedy begins to unfold as Ivy searches for her. While in her search for Rebecca she comes across Blackham House where she takes on a most unexpected position.
An evil lurks about but it’s history is tangled in knots and Ivy is determined to untangle every lie, secret. Her bravery and willpower to face the darkness within herself and Blackham House will be the trial of a lifetime.

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A lovely first read from Jennifer Renshaw!

I thoroughly enjoyed the dark atmosphere of this book. Perfect to pick up as we draw closer to the fall weather. Definitely recommend giving this one a read if you are a fan of creepy magical realism!

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The Parlour Game by Jennifer Renshaw is set in the 19th century, and follows the protagonist Ivy Granger, opening the story with the funeral of her mother and continuing as she leaves her pastoral life for London when pushed toward a future she does not want for herself. She thinks she will be welcomed into the home of a possible relative, but instead she finds herself thrust into a mystery that soon spins out of her control and leaves her struggling to make it out alive--or with her wits still intact.

This book is simply marvellous! I could be biased in saying so, given my love of both spiritualism and the Victorian Era, but I think it would appeal to fans too of suspense or horror books. The last third of the book is a masterpiece of tense foreboding, and I couldn't sleep until I had finished it and reached the conclusion of the story. It leaves you turning the pages faster and faster, cursing yourself that you can't read quicker so as to find out what happens all the sooner.

I see that there are plans for this to be a series, and I definitely will have to pick up any future instalments!

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

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The cover and description of this book had me hooked from the beginning. The story line was well developed and had me engaged throughout. I would love to see this developed into a series. Would definitely recommend. 4/5 stars. Thank you netgalley for the arc!

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The Parlour Game is the first book in a new series - The Corvidae Hauntings - by Jennifer Renshaw.

The story centers around young Ivy Granger, whose grief at her mother's passing is sidetracked by the appearance of a mysterious woman at the funeral. The woman is beautiful and refined, and in pulling Ivy aside in the graveyard, she reveals that she knows many secrets about Ivy's mother and even about Ivy herself. Desperate to get away from her controlling father, Ivy travels to London to seek out the woman, only to find that she is the famous spiritualist Rosetta Earnshaw - and that she's gone missing after a disastrous seance at the formidable Blackham house.

Ivy sets out to solve the mystery of Miss Earnshaw's disappearance and in doing so gets herself in way over her head.

With an imposing house, a brooding yet attractive heir, ominous magpies at every window, a strange garden where nothing grows but thorny plants, a pervading air of ruin that rots fruit and wilts flowers within hours, whispers among the servants, and a strange collection of taxidermy and Egyptian artifacts, this story has every wonderful element of a Victorian Gothic.

There are multiple mysteries to solve here, the question of who (if anyone) to trust, and a coming-of-age for young Ivy as she grows from a shy and timid girl into the brave young heroine we want her to be. Though there are some parts in the middle that drag a bit, the story starts with a bang and ends with a thrill and the promise of more dark adventures with Ivy pitted against the dark occult plans of the Corvidae.

I enjoyed this book immensely and look forward to the rest of the series.

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This book has stayed in my mind for quite some time after reading it, very much the mark of an outstanding book.

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I really enjoyed the twists and turns of this book. It kept you guessing until the end. I like it when it's not so easy to figure out. It centers around Ivy, who just lost her mom. She meets a strange woman at her mom's funeral which prompts her to leave her father (and the prospect of an unwanted marriage) and head to London. Once there, she finds that the woman has disappeared and no one will talk about what happened to her in the house where she was last seen.

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⭐⭐⭐ or ⭐--- Love the cover on this one!

My rating for this one depends on if there is going to be a sequel or not. If there is, then this was a strong 4 star read. Well written. Well paced. Atmospheric. Creepy. Mysterious. Strong characters. However, if this was a one off than I have to unfortunately knock off a star. The ending was rushed and confusing, and there were so many loose ends. What happened to the Jack The Ripper guy? The the vicar and his housekeeper? The weird old man at the jewelry shop? There is a ton left unexplained. So hopefully there will be a sequel! 🤞🏻

**ARC Via NetGalley**

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London 1873. Ivy Granger is devastated by the loss of her mother, the only person she felt truly understood her. Now her family is insisting she marry a man she loathes or face an asylum.

During her mother’s funeral she meets Miss Earnshaw who implies that she is kin to Ivy and offers her an escape; to come and stay with her in London. Out of options Ivy flees her home and travels to London only to find Miss Earnshaw has mysteriously disappeared.

On the night she vanished she was holding a seance at the home of the Blackhams, a house haunted by a terrible past and full of strange and ancient artefacts. Determined to find out what happened to Miss Earnshaw, Ivy takes up a role as a maid in the house. Faced with suspicious servants and mysterious apparitions, Ivy will have to be careful if she doesn’t want to end up as the house’s latest victim.

All of the classic elements of a gothic novel are included here; a haunted house, a mysterious atmosphere, a naive female protagonist, strange visions and supernatural occurances. Renshaw weaves all these elements together to create a thrilling and spooky book which never feels contrived or forced. Ivy is a sympathetic character and the inhabitants of the house are suitably sinister, especially Lady Blackham whose presence lingers over proceedings even in her absence.

The central mystery is plotted well and kept me engaged throughout, and some of the reveals at the end genuinely surprised me. The atmosphere and setting of the book is so well done and I felt immersed in 19th century Victorian London, fog and all.

Only slight criticism is the book could do with tighter editing, in some places the words used felt incorrectly chosen and pulled me out of the story. Overall all though I thought this was a well written and entertaining read which sets things up nicely for the sequel. One thing’s for sure however, I’ll never look at Magpies the same way again.

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Creepy and compelling!

Thanks so much to NetGalley and the publishers for letting me read this book in exchange for my review.

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Thank you to Anne for my invitation to the tour and to Jennifer for my copy of the book in return for a fair and honest review.

The story begins with Ivy Granger at her mother’s funeral. At the graveside a woman approachs her said she knew her mother. She asks Ivy to come and visit her at her home in London. When she asks her father about the woman he tells her to stay away from her that she is not to be trusted and that her mother did not know her. Ivy’s father is arranging a marriage for her with a man who repulses her she begs him to re consider but he will not, so she takes drastic action.

The second thread of the book is set at the home of Blackham House, which is lived in by The Blackham family. This is a house of many secrets and a party that is held by the Master and Mistress has shocking consequences which Ivy finds herself linked with.

This is a really engrossing story I was totally invested in Ivy’s story and the level of suspense builds as the book progresses. I really liked Ivy as a character, she is fiesty and unphased by the unpredictability of her situation and even embraces it.

The Blackham House is a great gothic setting, mystery, grief and sadness ooze from it’s walls. The eerie collection of stuffed animals and birds that the family have acquired over the years add to the tale.

A fantastic read which kept me reading late into the night. If you like a creepy gothic tale this is one for you perfect for this time of year !

5 stars *****

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The Parlour Game, by Jennifer Renshaw
Published: 22nd October
Rating: 5/5
I have an incredible weakness for gothic tales of the supernatural, and so I jumped at the chance to get my hands on this early copy. The cover art is simply majestic, and I was utterly transfixed from the first page. Ivy Granger is an amateur botanist, living in 1873. After her mother’s passing, a strange woman approaches her at the funeral, and warns her that she is in imminent danger. She must go to her home in London immediately, and learn the secrets that her mother kept from her. Upon arriving at the woman’s home, she finds that the woman is missing, and has not seen since holding a séance at a noble’s house nearby. Ivy infiltrates the noble house as a servant, and seeks to uncover what happened to the mystery woman. Renshaw’s writing is exquisite. Her descriptions of the home are breath-taking, and she really captures the tragedy of the Blackham women. It is a true tale of intrigue, and is deliciously peppered with the supernatural and the occult. I loved the vast array of intriguing and eccentric characters too. It is a brilliant work of fiction, and I am surprised that Jennifer Renshaw is so unknown. She is a wonderful talent.

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An utterly compelling novel that once begun is very difficult to walk away from, in fact, I read this book until the early hours of the morning! The story has all the ingredients that one would expect from a gothic horror book, but the author has really done her research on the historical aspects of this book as well, which made the story rather spine-tinglingly realistic. Likewise, I thought the characters came across as very real in the telling.

There are some darker themes explored in this book, and I was really pleased to see that the author had put a trigger warning notice at the end of the blurb - I wish more authors did this - so I was prepared for what I was going to read about which meant there were no nasty surprises, although there is plenty of suspense and tension throughout this novel.

I thought this book was brilliant and it is one that I have no hesitation in recommending. I will certainly be looking out for more books from this very talented author.

*I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for review consideration.

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When a stranger at her mother's funeral reveals to Ivy that there is more to her life than she knew and to escape a n unacceptable marriage, she accepts the offer of visiting Miss Earnshaw.
A wonderfully written novel complete with interesting characters that both captivate and draw the reader in. There is also excellent scene setting, depicting Victorian London, complete with a spooky haunted house.
Well worth the read.

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