Thursday, September 03, 2020

Review: The Woman in the Mirror by Rebecca James

Title: The Woman in the Mirror
Author: Rebecca James
Published: March 2020, Minotaur Books
Format: ARC Paperback, 368 pages
Source: Publisher

Rebecca James unveils a chilling modern gothic novel of a family consumed by the shadows and secrets of its past in The Woman in the Mirror.

For more than two centuries, Winterbourne Hall has stood atop a bluff overseeing the English countryside of Cornwall and the sea beyond.

In 1947, Londoner Alice Miller accepts a post as governess at Winterbourne, looking after Captain Jonathan de Grey’s twin children. Falling under the de Greys’ spell, Alice believes the family will heal her own past sorrows. But then the twins’ adoration becomes deceitful and taunting. Their father, ever distant, turns spiteful and cruel. The manor itself seems to lash out. Alice finds her surroundings subtly altered, her air slightly chilled. Something malicious resents her presence, something clouding her senses and threatening her very sanity.

In present day New York, art gallery curator Rachel Wright has learned she is a descendant of the de Greys and heir to Winterbourne. Adopted as an infant, she never knew her birth parents or her lineage. At long last, Rachel will find answers to questions about her identity that have haunted her entire life. But what she finds in Cornwall is a devastating tragic legacy that has afflicted generations of de Greys. A legacy borne from greed and deceit, twisted by madness, and suffused with unrequited love and unequivocal rage.

My thoughts: There is nothing I love more than a good gothic thriller and this one had me hooked right from the beginning. Add in some historical aspects and family secrets and I am totally sold!

I loved the way this story was told, alternating between the present and the past, with two equally fascinating main characters. I found myself completely invested in both timelines, wondering just how these two plots would intersect and while I am not going to spoil anything for you here, just know that this slow-burning mystery might take a while to get there, but once it does, it makes for some thrilling, yet equally chilling reading.

I also loved how atmospheric this book was. This absolutely added to the tension and suspense of this story and kept me turning the pages. The house itself, Winterbourne Estate, is such a presence in the book - it is almost as if the house is a character itself. It seemed to have a life of its own, causing madness and even having some supernatural elements to it. It definitely had me spooked a few times.

Between the secrets and the sense of foreboding that you constantly feel, I found myself on edge most of the time I was reading this book. I loved every second of it and couldn't read it fast enough. This book reminded me of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier at times, but also had the feel of The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware, both of which I loved and now can add this one to the list. I know I will be keeping an eye out for what comes next from this talented author and will also be recommending this book to all my gothic-loving thriller friends!


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