House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick

House of Shadows Book Cover House of Shadows
Nicola Cornick
Historical Fiction
Graydon House
October 17, 2017
Kindle E-book
464

The wooded hills of Oxfordshire conceal the remains of the aptly named Ashdown House--a wasted pile of cinders and regret. Once home to the daughter of a king, its secrets will unite three women across four centuries in a tangle of romance, deceit and destiny...

1662--A queen
Bound by sex and birth to live for everyone but herself--and to love always in secret--Elizabeth Stuart entrusts a pair of arcane artifacts to her faithful cavalier to keep safe for her rightful heir. But fate will not be generous to the Winter Queen, throwing the question of succession into turmoil, the aftermath of which will resonate through the generations.

1801--A courtesan
Lavinia Flyte wanted so much more from life than to be a courtesan at the mercy of the cruel Lord Evershot. He has brought her to Ashdown, the home of his ancestors, for reasons he guards greedily. But the maids' whispers of hidden treasures--a pearl with the power to foretell the future--consume her with a curiosity she confides only to her diary, unaware of the misfortune that threatens.

And the mystery that binds them

Alarmed to hear her brother has gone missing at Ashdown Park, Holly Ansell is inexplicably drawn to the clues contained in the journal of a Regency courtesan who was living at the historic home when it burned to the ground two hundred years ago. Lured by the tragedy at Ashdown, Holly's search leads her not only to the truth about Lavinia, but deeper into her own connection with the Winter Queen.

What Secret Lies Within the House of Shadows?

House of Shadows was exquisite: rich with imagery, imagination, and intrigue. The stories of women and men from across the ages were blended seamlessly together, united by two enchanted objects (a mirror and a pearl), that shaped their destinies through disaster and heartbreak. The stories of star crossed lovers and lives wrecked by the mirror and the pearl, and the lies of those who tried to control them, come to rest in our modern day in a woman named Holly Ansell.

Image result for structure fire gifHolly’s first clue that something supernatural may behind the disappearance of her older brother is that she glimpses a beautiful mansion through the trees on her way to his home…despite the fact that the mansion had been destroyed in a mysterious fire more than a century before. Not to mention the fact that her brother has vanished into thin air while searching for a mysterious pearl. Holly’s investigation into the cursed mirror and pearl reveals that people across the ages have lied and lost everything trying to control and own the objects. The mirror and pearl have doomed relationships, and may have led the souls of one particular pair of star crossed lovers to keep returning to earth, until things can be righted and the objects destroyed.

Image result for medieval couple kissing gifHouse of Shadows is told through the eyes of Holly in the present day, through the journal entries of Lavinia Flyte in the 1800s, and through the eyes of the Winter Queen (Elizabeth Stuart) and Duke of Cumberland in the 1600s. All of the women are well developed characters, easy to feel sympathy for, although the Winter Queen’s haughtiness can be infuriating at times. Each time period in the book is painted in vivid detail, making it easy to imagine, and the switch between time periods is done without a hitch, and helps to break up the action, romance, and heartache. This book has all the right ingredients to appeal to a wide variety of readers: historical fiction fans will delight in the stories of both Elizabeth and Lavinia, romance readers will findImage result for modern couple kissing gif deep satisfaction in the sensual and genuine romantic relationships in each time period, and mystery lovers will like the twists and turns that the story takes as Holly searches for her brother and attempts to unlock the mystery of the mirror and the pearl. This is truly escapist fiction at its best.

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