Friday, April 7, 2023

Book Review - The Vanishing at Castle Moreau by Jaime Jo Wright

My Review

The Vanishing at Castle Moreau is a Gothic novel told in three timelines.  In present day, Cleo Clemmons agrees to do a big job for cash payment because she is on the run.  She goes to Castle Moreau, an American castle in Wisconsin, to help a celebrity's grandmother declutter the items she has hoarded for many years. In 1870 Daisy Francois goes to work at Castle Moreau, but becomes concerned about all the rumors of women disappearing from the castle.  There are also flashbacks to 1801 when a young girl is living a rather frightening life at the castle, haunted by a woman with a crooked hand.

I wanted to read this novel because I love the Gothic tradition of novels like Jane Eyre and Rebecca.  I enjoy historical fiction and don't encounter a lot of new Gothic historical novels, so I was curious!

The author, Jaime Jo Wright, did a wonderful job with the atmospheric setting and mystery elements of this novel.  This evocative description is a good example of the storytelling in this book:

"The castle cast its hypnotic pull over any passerby who happened along to find it, tucked deep in the woods in a place where no one would build a castle, let alone live in one. It served no purpose there. No strategy of war, no boast of wealth, no respite for a tired soul. Instead, it simply existed. Tugging. Coercing. Entrapping. Its two turrets mimicked bookends, and if removed, one would fear the entire castle would collapse like a row of standing volumes. Windows covered the façade above a stone archway, which drew her eyes to the heavy wooden door with its iron hinges, the bushes along the foundation, and the stone steps leading to the mouth of the edifice. Beyond it was a small orchard of apple trees, their tiny pink blossoms serving as a delicate backdrop for the magnificent property" (eBook location 38).

I found the present day storyline of Cleo, with the added mystery of why she was on the run, the most compelling in the book.  She is cautious to make connections, but surprisingly finds herself drawn to Deacon, the grandson of the older woman she is helping.  Deacon was one of my favorite characters in the novel.  

The story takes several twists and turns, and I enjoyed the meandering road to the answer to the mystery of Castle Moreau.  I recommend this unique and intriguing novel for fans of historical fiction, and especially for anyone who enjoys Gothic fiction.

Book Synopsis

A haunting legend. An ominous curse. A search for a secret buried deep within the castle walls.  

In 1870, orphaned Daisy François takes a position as housemaid at a Wisconsin castle to escape the horrors of her past life. There she finds a reclusive and eccentric Gothic authoress who hides tales more harrowing than the ones in her novels. As women disappear from the area and the eerie circumstances seem to parallel a local legend, Daisy is thrust into a web that could ultimately steal her sanity, if not her life.

In the present day, Cleo Clemmons is hired by the grandson of an American aristocratic family to help his grandmother face her hoarding in the dilapidated Castle Moreau. But when Cleo uncovers more than just the woman's stash of collectibles, a century-old mystery and the dust of the old castle's curse threaten to rise again . . . this time to leave no one alive to tell the sordid tale.

Award-winning author Jaime Jo Wright seamlessly weaves a dual-time tale of two women who must do all they can to seek the light amid the darkness shrouding Castle Moreau.



Author Bio

Jaime Jo Wright is the author of eight novels, including Christy Award and Daphne du Maurier Award-winner The House on Foster Hill and Carol Award winner The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond. She's also the Publishers Weekly and ECPA bestselling author of two novellas. Jaime lives in Wisconsin with her cat named Foo; her husband, Cap'n Hook; and their two mini-adults, Peter Pan and CoCo.






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