I love reading everything from fantasy to historical romances. On a constant quest for more books to read.
Penniless, and escaping the horrors of life as a governess to brutal households, Maud seeks refuge with the cousin-by-marriage she never knew. But Juliana quashes Maud's emerging friendships with the staff and locals - especially John, the artist commissioned to restore the sinister Doom in the local church. John, however, is smitten with Maud and makes every effort to woo her.
Maud, isolated and thwarted at every turn, continues to take the laudanum which was her only solace in London. Soon she becomes dependent on the drug - so is this the cause of her fresh anxieties? Or is someone - or something - plotting her demise?
Is the devil in the corner of the Doom a reality, or a figment of her imagination?
I recieved this ARC from Netgalley and this is my honest Review of it.
How I felt while reading this book
At the beginning of this book Miss Maud Greenwood is orphaned and forced to go into service as a governess because her father failed to make arrangements for her wellbeing in case of his demise. At this point her mother has already passed on as well so she is all alone in the world
We skip ahead to two years later and find that her experiences as a governess seems to have been far from pleasant and because she left each of her three previous employers under less than ideal circumstances she has no references and no one wants to hire her.
Things are truly looking bleak.
So she is amazed and relieved when a letter arrives from her estranged uncles stepdaughter Juliana Greenwood with an invitation to come and stay with her at Windward House,a cousin who is a complete stranger but where else can she go under her circumstances?
She leaves for Windward House.
And then we meets the other maincharacter. He is John Shawcross a penniless but talented artist.He is the sole supporter of his mother and has been hired restore a medieval painting called "The Doom" for Juliana Green
The Doom is a depiction of The Judgment Day and it was revealed by chance after being hidden and while many say its a miracle they are also repelled by it.
‘The Doom is very extraordinary –’ she gives a tiny shudder – ‘I find it almost frightening.’
John first encounters Maud on the train and is immediateley intrigued with her haunted air and sad eyes and fashions himself more than a bit
in love with her. They part ways at the station but he hopes he will see her again.
Well at Windward house her cousin Juliana turns out not to be an old decreipt woman but beautiful and domineering who is firmly convinced she is dying. Maud is to be her nurse and companion and she is to tend her during the night if she so wishes.
Juliana is by turns affectionate and concerned about her welfare and at other times eager to hurt Maud with her cruel comments only to pretend to be suprised by that she should have minded having the truth spoken to her. Maud starts to resent her deeply.
Disappointed in what she thought would be her haven, Maud begins to use more and more of the laudanum as its help her sleep easily at night not tormented by nightmares of the memories of horrors of the places and families she worked for as a governess.
But she always needs more.
‘If a person suffers dreadful dreams of their past, bad enough to make them terrified to lay their head on the pillow, bad enough to drive them mad, what does Mr Quilter prescribe?’
‘Why, laudanum. He sells a lot of it in the shop. It cures all manner of ailments, including sleeplessness.’
‘But if that person has no money at all and is in desperate need?’ I fixed my eyes on her face. ‘Truly desperate need,Edie?’
Even in the half-light of the shop I could see she had gone a little pink. ‘Is that person you, Miss Maud?’
She has to do some things she despises herself for to get hold of more laudanum and believes herself damned,a wicked one.
But there is one bright light in her existence the budding relationship with John Shawcross who she has met again. But will even this last as circumstances are conspiring against them and when all starts to spiral to its conclusion who will stand by Maud?
I will have to say I felt consumed by it when I was reading this book. What was really going on?
The author has done her research well wich makes the events of this book even more chilling is the fact that these things could and probably did happen in the Victorian era. It was only towards the end I started putting the clues together. And even then I was not completely sure I had it right.
And then we have our heroine...
Several times in this book was not sure I liked Maud,especially when her actions were described by John and I felt she was unreasonable and diffciult. But once i got back into her chapters and minset i started to feel sympathy for her again and rooted for her to find happiness and peace of mind.
I couldnt help but be reminded of Jane Eyre when it came to Maud.
...a little moth in her dark clothes
You will find yourself asking throughout the book- is Maud just a poor innocent girl or a disturbed young woman. Or maybe she is both. You are kept guessing until the end.
And then there is John.I quite liked John he was nice but not flawless,nor was he this tortured artists soul who went around brooding all the time.
John Shawcross could not be making much money from his painting, for I noticed his coat was patched. He was some years older than me, with a pleasant, honest face you could not dislike and a smile I found engaging despite my mistrust of men.
Some might think the romance between Maud and John comes too quickly but I dont think this first instance of their relationship was really love..more like infatuation. Until they are torn apart not only by other people but their own actions wich leads to them having to evaluate their true feelings about each other.
It was just something they had to go through and it made me believe in their relationship even more.
The historical setting is captured well with only some minor lapses when it comes to people adressing each other informally and giving someone else permission to use their first name but its only a minor grievance when the rest of it is very good in creating the atmosphere.
The characters feels like they live in the victorian era and are not merely modern people dressed up in period costume. I think it takes place sometime in the 1860s judging by the fact that John believes in Darwins theories,and mention of John wanting to paint Maud in the pre-raphaelite style.
Thinking of Mauds laudanum addcition I couldnt help but wonder if the author was in a way inspired by Elizabeth Siddal(the muse and lover of paintr Gabriel Dante Rosetti) when she wrote this book.
She was also painted by several other pre-raphaelite painters and like Maud had artistic abilities. She also famously overdosed on laudanum.
But this is just a speculation of mine.
I thought I knew I was in for...a YA with a heroine who has been through some bad things and finds herself in a gothic house,there would also be a romance and some obstacle to overcome. The power of the true love would prevail and everyone would live happily ever after
This was before I knew all I know about "Devil in the corner"
This book sets you up and makes you think you know what is going to happen but then it rips away the carpet underneath your feet and makes you feel completely dense for falling for it.
If I have to complain about something its the beginning when the heroine finds out her father has left her without any Money and a teacher at the Girls schools she is attending tells her she will help her get a governess position
Then in the next paragraph its several years later. I would have wished there had been a break between these..or even better if this "prologue" had been deleted completely since it came off akwardly.
I feel this is a worthy sucessor of some the gothics old but the author manages to create something new and exciting from it.
I know its popular to have "x meets y" as a sales pitch and I usually find this corny but if I have to make a comparision this one was like "Alias Grace" meets "Turn of the Screw"
and found myself several times thinking that this book wouldnt look out of place in the adult section.
If you love books with a gothic theme and characters who are psychologically complex-then this is your book.
I for one wont forget it.
‘Where is God?’ people asked the vicar. ‘Why doesn’t He stop the devil’s work?’
But how can the devil be stopped when he lives inside you? There is no room for God then.