The Haunting of Abney Heights
by Cat Thomas
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Pub Date 03 Oct 2022 | Archive Date 23 Jan 2023
An old asylum, a hidden diary and a secret that casts long shadows
When Meg returns to London, she knows she’ll be facing ghosts from her own troubled past.
Yet she doesn’t expect to find her new home so unnerving…
…even if it is a former asylum.
Investigating the mysterious deaths of two asylum patients, Meg discovers an intriguing Edwardian world of steampunk spiritualism, genteel gay romance and radical therapies. Digging deeper, she begins to realise something evil lurked behind the asylum’s liberal façade.
Did the patients find out? Was that why they were killed?
Deciphering a coded document takes her nearer the heart of the asylum’s secrets and reveals shocking truths about Meg’s own life. Her grip on reality crumbles as the dark Edwardian past begins to overtake her.
Can she survive the damaging path to the final piece of the puzzle?
Fans of Laura Purcell, Diane Setterfield, Bridget Collins and Stacey Halls will love this quirky gothic mystery.
(CAUTION: Written and set in the UK, this book uses British spelling and terminology. May contain traces of tea and irony.)
"a really good story that unfolded at a perfect pace with mystery and suspense, holding my attention to the last page.'
'a darkly atmospheric book'
'The interweaving of Edwardian and contemporary story lines is expertly crafted and with a shocking finale!'"
Average rating from 99 members
There's much to parse in this British contemporary/Edwardian Ghostly mystery. The Narrator, a former academic, now a freelance genealogist, carries a trunk load of baggage from childhood and adolescence. She's currently staying in a Renovated Edwardian Asylum while working through the Asylum archives for the Development corporation. It's also the area of London in which she grew up, and the penthouse resident is her bestie while growing up.
Additionally, she is contracted by a San Francisco resident to uncover the mysteries of one of the gentlewoman inmates. There's enough Supernatural Interference to keep the cauldron boiling, which in turn creates danger and potential fatality. Caution: the unraveling of the Asylum narrative reveals some very ugly facts, disturbing to some (many) readers. The reading is not as fast-paced as I would have hoped, as discovering the truths from 1907 is spaced out through journal entries, and our Narrator is constantly involved in her own past drama.
I thought that this was a really good book with great back and forth through timelines and points of view.
When an old asylum is made into new modern exclusive apartments Meg is hired to chronicle all the papers associated with the asylum. When she stumbles on the murders of two previous patients there’s more questions than answers like what does this have to do with vampires in the psychical research society? There’s so much to this book in so many different side stories and questions and all diaries and letters I couldn’t stop reading it and didn’t at all know how it would end but what an ending. I love in the old mystery and one that’s accompanied by diaries is even better. There’s much more to this mystery than the brief summary I have given but there’s too much to put into a simple bio about the book. Just know if you love gothic mysteries and ghost stories you get it all in the haunting of Abney Heights just make sure you have time to read and you won’t be interrupted because this book is so good you’re not want to stop. I received this book from NetGalley and the publisher but I am leaving this review voluntarily please forgive any mistakes as I am blind and dictate most of my review.
I really enjoyed "The Haunting of Abney Heights" by Cat Thomas. I'm vaguely familiar with the area and have been wanting to visit the cemetery for a while, so definitely will after reading this book. It did feel as if it was set in the past, thanks to the 1907 diary entries and loved that it was a mystery that was being unravelled over 100 years later. Not the predictable ending that I was expecting, so great stuff!
I enjoy Gothic stories, which is why this story appealed to me.
I liked this a lot - it was a mystery rather than a horror/ghost story, but it had the dark, eerie atmosphere that I was hoping for. There was some time-shifting, and recently I've been into reading a lot of books like that. There were a few narratives, and I was interested in each character's perspective. The story held my attention and I read most of it in one sitting.
I don't know if there are any more books featuring these characters, but I would definitely be interested in reading more books by this author.
the story setting is dramatic. Also it was in two time lines 1907 and present times. Megan is
a genealogist/archivist and she has been asked to find out whatever she could on a particular
inmate of the institute Elle. The present day institute was earlier a asylum, and to Megan
resonated with the heaviness and unhappiness of what those institutes were at the time.
Delving into Elle's history and sad end, we also delve into the life of Lucy. A person also
an inmate of the asylum, admitted for hysteria by her fiancee and family who became very close to
Elle. Though not openly spoken of Elle was admitted because she was a lesbian and Dr Wood who
was in charge at the asylum worried over the increasingly close relationship between the two women.
The story weaving the daily workings of the asylum, with Dr Wood's modern approach of integrating
the inmates as much as possible into public life showed up historically the manner in which
mental incapacity was treated, the stigma attached to it and for many the hopelessness for
The present day building was apartments and Megan lived there whilst unravelling the task
she was set to. it had strands of historical fictiin, along with two mystery murders which
were solved decades later and altogether was a very interesting read set in Edwardian tim
An enjoyable read that was well written and had well developed characters. I treally enjoyed the different timelines through the book and how different characters points of voew were given. I would recommend reading this book.
I throughly enjoyed this book and the story line was unusual but very intriguing. The main characters were very relatable and I just had to know what happened.Although this is not my usual genre it was very enjoyable.
This book promised a little more than it delivered unfortunately but it was an interesting story with plenty to keep the reader turning the pages.
The synopsis -
'An old asylum, a hidden diary and a secret that casts long shadows...
When Meg returns to London, she knows she’ll be facing ghosts from her own troubled past. She doesn’t expect to be so unsettled by the place where she’s staying…
…even if is a former asylum.
Investigating the mysterious deaths of two asylum patients, Meg discovers an intriguing Edwardian world of steampunk spiritualism, genteel gay romance and radical therapies. Digging deeper, she begins to realise something evil lurked behind the asylum’s liberal façade.'
I'm not sure it should be described as spooky or even use the word 'Haunting' in the title, these things were what initially drew me in to want to read the book, but neither of those words apply to the book in any way.
It's a very well researched and developed world we enter, historically it's beautifully described and brought to life.
The story is a good one, although slow going and I felt a bit like the middle of the book plodded on with too much un-needed dialogue. Maybe even a short story would have been better rather than a padded out novel?
Thank you to NetGalley for providing a copy of this book. I have voluntarily read and reviewed it. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
I loved this book. It was so cleverly written and told from multiple viewpoints and diary entries. It had me hooked the whole way through and I’d highly recommend!
I devoured this book in about two days. I could NOT put it down. There are so many twists and turns that every time I thought I had things figured out, I was proven wrong. Which is GREAT!! Even when I did figure out the ending (WAY before the actual end), there were still so many twists and red herrings that I dismissed my theory. While some of the names and characters are VERY similar to Dracula, it only enhances the story. An EXCELLENT book for anyone who loves a good supernatural mystery suspense thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat from the beginning to the end!!
The book, about a former asylum turned into a luxe apartment building, is the perfect setting for a thriller. I initially struggled to connect with the characters and had trouble following the storyline because it jumps around so much, but after several chapters, I was able to find the story’s groove.
As a journalist, I love that the story is told in the past through old newspapers articles and primary sources, like journals. I know what it’s like to piece together details through the eyes of someone else and how thrilling it can be for the pieces to come together.
Although fictional, the book explores how women were shoved inside asylums and forgotten about for practically any reason and as a matter of convenience. That’s one of the real horrors in this book’s pages. I couldn’t help but find myself feeling tragically sorry for the characters.
This is the kind of horror that I enjoy when it has converging timelines which lead to a revelation at the end. I found that this was an interesting story and loved the way that the author had positioned this to the reader.
Thank you for the book! This arc was given to me by #netgalley and the publishers!
I really didn't like this book so I couldn't finish it.
As an old asylum is being renovated into an exclusive apartment building, Meg is asked to go through the asylum’s records for genealogy purposes. She is also asked to try to decipher a coded diary of one of the patients who had died there. In the midst of this, she meets up with old friends who are also curious of the two women patients who died on the premises. But the more Meg reads from the journals of the two women and the doctor treating them, the more disturbed she becomes. What happened in the asylum at the turn of the century and why did the two women die?
The Haunting of Abney Heights by Cat Thomas is an interesting story that moves you between Edwardian England and today, unfolding a story of the past that may affect the people of the present. Meg reads through three different journals—Ella’s, Lucy’s, and Dr. Wood’s—to try to learn the reason why Ella and Lucy ended up dead on the premises. I did enjoy the story but found reading each journal to be tedious. I would have rather the journals been played out by the characters for a faster-paced story. Still, the story writing is impeccable and the story line quite unique. I would certainly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good gothic mystery.
The Haunting of Abney Heights
From the opening lines I was hooked! Every time I had to put the book down I was itching to get back to it!
The Haunting of Abney Heights is set in present-day and in 1907. Meg and her friends set out to solve a 100 year old mystery and find ao much more than they bargained for.
I enjoyed each of the characters in their own way, I couldn't keep imagine being friends with Uzi but she really well written.
I saw the way the mystery was going to be solved before it was written but that didn't take away from the story at all!
I really enjoyed the way Meg's story ended. I like the way it was all put together!
All in all I would definitely recommend the Haunting of Abney Heights! Especially to people who love a historical mystery!
This was gripping. It was gothic in tone but much more of a mystery than I had expected (a very good thing). It has scary and some disturbing passages which very much adds to the sense of unease. Would recommend.
I'm a huge fan of non-gory supernatural suspense, so I liked this one a lot. It takes a long time for the suspense and action to get going, a lot of this is about the archives and research part, but since I liked the main characters of the Scooby Gang, that was fine.
Also I like eating recipes from books, so that's a A+ character trait there.
i went into this book thinking it would have a horror theme to it but i was mistaken its more a gothic mystery which i still found fascinating. i love the way this flows between the characters and timelines, each character starts coming to life the further you read.
this is a slow burner for me which makes a nice difference for me, it kept me just interested enough to keep going when i needed to do other things. this is my first book by this author and i can see myself wanting to read more from her.
Thank you to Netgalley/BookGoSocial/Cat Thomas for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
First up – the cover art is gorgeous and eye catching.
Second up – I see Goodreads users are describing this as horror and I can’t help but feel this may put potential readers off if horror isn’t their thing. Conversely, horror fans will be left disappointed. I would describe this more as a very solidly written Gothic mystery.
This is the first book I have read by Cat Thomas and I love her writing. It’s the kind of writing that you somehow instinctively recognise as British. It’s understated yet conveys everything it needs to and implies a little bit more and that really appeals to me. I like the way the story is told too, in two time frames. The contemporary story is told in the first person by Meg, a middle aged divorcee who is none too happy to be back in her childhood neighbourhood, with its accompanying bad memories, due to work commitments. The Edwardian era story unfolds mainly through the journal entries of Ella, a young woman who was a patient at the asylum, and of Doctor Woods, the psychiatrist who was treating Ella and the other patients.
I liked the characters too. Meg has a difficult childhood back story which she is being forced to revisit both by being back in the place where she was so unhappy, and by also having to deal with a trunk of her mother’s belongings which she has been able to avoid until now. She gains a small but dedicated group of supporters in the course of her research and I liked the dynamics of the group, the Scoobys as she nicknames them.
What I felt was lacking, considering the title, was a real feel for Abney Heights, the building which had originally been an asylum. We were led in the direction of it being creepy but I never felt that sense of unease which would have added to my reading experience.
I did see the twists coming, but it didn’t detract from the story, and there was a completely wild card chapter near the end which I definitely didn’t see coming.
What a delightful read. I loved the plot twists!
Aaaand many other literal references were smartly woven into the story: Dickens, Wells, and Bram Stoker to name a few...
The most curious thing about this book is that it weaves a lot into it, however, is very easy to follow and reads really well and quickly. There is history, there are ghosts, there are gothic thriller vibes, and hints of steampunk even… I mean, I can be a fussy reader, but this was really interesting!
I love a good haunted mystery especially if they include insane asylums. This book went between present time and diaries from those from the insane asylum. I really enjoyed this book and found myself reading way into the night and morning. If you like a good mystery with a twist you will enjoy this book! I want to read more from this author in the future. Thank you NetGalley for this gifted copy.
I enjoyed this book very much and could picture it very easily being made for TV or as a movie. This book kept running through my head at night after I finished reading for the day. The story stayed with me.
Meg, a freelance genealogist, returns to her hometown for a gig. She is researching an early 20th century patient at the former asylum-turned-luxury-condos, and ends up moving into the building for the duration of her work. While Meg is uncovering Ella’s experience as an Abney Asylum patient, she is also forced to uncover the ghosts of her own past. As Meg attempts to exorcize the ghosts of her biological family’s past, her family of choice, a delightful cast of quirky characters, has her back.
The tension builds slowly in “The Haunting of Abney Heights,” but Cat Thomas reminds the reader throughout that something is a little off in both the contemporary timeline and the early 20th century timeline. The atmosphere is dark and moody. The action comes to a head beginning in the last third of the book and is much darker than what I was expecting.
I enjoyed the story and will read more by Cat Thomas. This book would be good for those who like novels with a gothic feel, ghost stories, and early 20th century mysteries.
Content warning: child abuse.
Thanks #NetGalley and #BooksGoSocial for providing an ARC for review consideration. All opinions are my own. The book is available now!
This novel was a very interesting read. It was part ghost story, part mystery and life in an asylum. The story revealed itself through journal entries and case notes. As you read, you discover the horrible things that went on in the asylum. Some due to the lack of regulations for dealing with mental illness (or what was considered mental illness) and some due to the deviance of men and women. As Meg and her friends dig further into the mystery, other revelations surface that are life changing. When the conclusion comes around the reader is dumbfounded.
This book has a really pretty cover which initially got my attention and then I I started to read the description Below and I only read the first two lines and decided that was all I needed to no I was going to read this book Lol
An old asylum, a hidden diary and a secret that casts long shadows…. AN ATMOSPHERIC HISTORICAL MYSTERY
I was not disappointed I enjoyed this book I found the plot interesting and it Kept my attention. I liked the way the dule timeline was done in 1907 the story is told from diary entry’s and in the present day you follow the story of Meg and her friends.
Thank you to Netgalley for the review copy
I loved the characters and the plot of the story, I will definitely be reading more from this author.
I really enjoyed this book from the moment I picked it up. The setting of an old asylum being renovated into apartments, and the main character Meg hired to archive documents from the aylum's past while doing some geneaological research on the side all appealed to me. As I read, the story unfolding of 2 women who were patients at the asylum was fascinating. The mystery of their deaths kept me guessing until the end. The only complaint I have is that the reveal at the end involved a complete personality change of one of the characters, but I suppose that is what a twist is all about. Overall, though, this was a realy great read and I hope to see more from this author.
Thanks #NetGalley and #BooksGoSocial for providing an ARC copy of this book.
I really enjoyed this book. I like something with an historical element, I also enjoy books about hospitals, or in this case asylums. I was a nurse for over forty years. The book ticked many boxes for me and it did not disappoint.
The book switches between Edwardian England and today, which makes it easier to appreciate.
Set in 1907, it is a murder mystery based on a diary written at that time. Recently Meg, a freelance genealogist is trying to uncover what happened when two women were found dead.. I can imagine that there are events like this that are waiting to be uncovered and the research behind any investigation is immense, whether it is true or not. I had to get to the end and at times I couldn't put the book down. I would also recommend it to anyone interested in family history.
I will be looking for more books from this author.
The Haunting of Abney Heights
By Cat Thomas
Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for an advance copy of this book to review!
A well written Gothic style mystery, with plenty of twist and turns. Told in duel time lines originating in 1907, a former insane asylum, Abney Heights is now a modern building complex, recently renovated into luxury apartments.
Meg, a genealogist, is given the task of researching the historical archives of the former asylum for an elite development corporation in London. She has also been hired by a private individual to locate information on the person's ancestor who was once committed to the asylum and died under mysterious circumstances.
While living at the site of her research, Meg and her associates uncover a disturbing history including odd events and some very unusual characters, past and present. The team unravels details of life as an inmate in the asylum during the early 1900's. Detailing cruel and unusual procedures and a disturbing account of what the committed had to endure.
I especially enjoyed that the author included spiritualism into the account of the asylum's history. Holding seances to contact the dead was a popular activity at the turn of the century and it added a unique element to the asylum's back story.
I really enjoyed this book. It has all of the ingredients of a good mystery and a creepy atmosphere.
The Haunting of Abney Heights just pulls you in! Not a horror novel but more of a historical mystery with a modern timeline too. A former site of an asylum, old diaries of former patients - see how the mysteries of the past affect the happenings of today. Very interesting story that slowly unfolds before it gives us it's answers. Really enjoyed it!
Spoiler alert! This book is proof that I can read an entire book that I don't love the content of, and still enjoy reading it because it is fascinating and well-done.
Ella was a fascinating character, and I sure wish she had gotten a happy ending. Overall, this book was dark, and characters were deceiving and the sense of darkness and mystery was well done. If you enjoy historical mystery with a overtones of spiritualism and seances, you would enjoy this book.
Not my cup of tea, but well done.
LGBTQ+ representation. Mild language, difficult topics of child abuse and mental health. No romantic scenes
Meg, genealogist and archivist is braver than I as she delves into the history of Abney Heights, a former asylum while boarding there.
This is a creepy gothic murder mystery as her digging reveals links to spiritualism and the unexplained deaths of 2 inmates a century before. With insight to life for those incarcerated for treatment, it gives a chilling narrative using excerpts from character's journals.
An enjoyable and original read, with many twists and loops that kept me captivated and turning the page until I discovered the truth.
I would not necessarily label this book as being part of the "horror" genre, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Instead, I would say that it is something more akin to a gothic historical fiction. Though it is a slow read, The Haunting of Abney Heights is also full of drama and intrigue. I look forward to reading more from this author.
Ah where to even begin with this book? I have so many good things to say about it that I don't even know where to start. I rarely give 5-star ratings but this book deserves each of all the 5 stars.
Stories about the supernatural have always interested me so this book was right up my alley. This was my first Cat Thomas book and I can confidently say that I will be looking for and reading more of her work. This book got me hooked right from the start and it had all the perfect ingredients that I couldn't put it down, housework and mommy duties be damned.
An old asylum, two unsolved and mysterious deaths, and radical therapies administered on asylum patients; exactly the things I want in a book. The Haunting of Abney Heights starts with a genealogist named Meg who was commissioned by a woman named Betty to unravel what happened to her great aunt Ella, once a patient in the asylum.
What Meg uncovers include spiritualism, steampunk machinery to communicate with the dead, child abuse of sorts, and a discovery connecting Meg to the past which she has been trying to avoid for so long.
What makes this book work is Meg and her Scooby gang. They are some of the most refreshing, delightful, and entertaining characters. There's never a dull moment with them.
I cannot recommend this book more to fans of Edwardian history, murder mysteries, and of course, haunted asylums.
I really enjoyed this mystery. The past and the present intertwine really well. I started picking up on the clues the author left about the ending, which made me quite excited to be proven right, I enjoyed Meg's character and the many different connections between characters and the asylum were intriguing. The 'haunting' part of the title feels more like a misdirect, in my opinion. The Ghosts of Abney Heights would have been a nicer title, truer to the story. Can't wait to read more from the author!
Quite an interesting read! I loved the Victorian secrets and mystery at the heart of the novel, and the supernatural elements were very apt for the time. Atmospheric, yet fast-paced, this book kept me hooked right until the end!
This was a book I wanted to sit down and read without interruption. I liked how chapters started with present-day settings and finished with a diary entry, court record, or journal entry from the past. I was intrigued to see how the story would unfold.
Shoutout to Gwillion Press and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review 'The Haunting of Abney Heights'.
I enjoyed this novel, and had a generally good experience while reading. The plot was simple, but also had layers, and there were a few good twists- the ending felt like a bit of a disappointment, if only because the rest of the book was playing out so well. It was rushed, and felt less than ideal, given what had come before.
The characters had little development, but it didn't feel extremely necessary to further the plot. I didn't mind, and they got the job done. It did, at times, feel like they were vehicles for the story, rather than a driving factor, and that things were happening without them. Because all our narrators (in my opinion) are unreliable due to one thing or another, there were gaps that could have been filled, but the story still worked without being air-tight, so I didn't mind all that much. More of a CBB than a necessity to enjoy.
Overall, I would recommend this book as a light read, and I am curious about Cat Thomas' other works- I'll have to check them out in the future.
First...A HUGE thank you to Gwillion Press and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review 'The Haunting of Abney Heights' by Cat Thomas.
Well, I approached this with the thought I was getting a spooky, "haunting" type book about an old Asylum that was refurbished into flats. This was more of a historical family mystery. So I suppose part ghost story. Meg is a freelance genealogist hired by a family member of a former inmate, to find out what happened at the asylum and how she died under suspicious circumstances. Meg began to ask help of her friends, and they find another suspicious death at the same time. They work together to try figure out the mystery surrounding the two deaths.
I did like the alternating story lines between Meg's time and the diary/articles and the doctors own journal from the previous period.
Thanks again to #netgalley for providing an ARC for review consideration. All opinions are my own.
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