Friday 3 April 2020

Book review ~ The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey

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5 March 2020

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Some secrets are unspoken. Others are unspeakable . . .

August 1939.

Thirty-year-old Hetty Cartwright is tasked with the evacuation and safekeeping of the natural history museum’s collection of mammals. Once she and her exhibits arrive at Lockwood Manor, however, where they are to stay for the duration of the war, Hetty soon realizes that she’s taken on more than she’d bargained for.

Protecting her charges from the irascible Lord Lockwood and resentful servants is work enough, but when some of the animals go missing, and worse, Hetty begins to suspect someone – or something – is stalking her through the darkened corridors of the house.

As the disasters mount, Hetty finds herself falling under the spell of Lucy, Lord Lockwood’s beautiful but clearly haunted daughter. But why is Lucy so traumatized? Does she know something she’s not telling? And is there any truth to local rumours of ghosts and curses?

Part love story, part mystery, The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey is a gripping and atmospheric tale of family madness, long-buried secrets and hidden desires.

What did I think about it..

At the start of the second world war, Hetty Cartwright is the museum curator who is in charge of relocating the mammal exhibits from the Natural History Museum in London to a safer environment in the countryside. Lockwood Manor is the place which has been chosen to store the precious collection but right from Hetty's arrival it is obvious that there is something rather dark and dangerous about Lockwood Manor and it's inhabitants.

Combining a strong sense of history with the natural world and setting it against a backdrop of gothic gloom is an interesting one, and this is certainly a creepy story, especially when some of the artifacts go missing and Hetty begins to doubt not just her own sanity but that of those around her, particularly the daughter of the house, Lucy Lockwood, who has her own share of insecurities and terrifying nightmares.

Combining a haunting ghost story with a tentative and rather sweet love story, the author brings several  strands of the story together in an interesting and unusual way. I enjoyed the attention to detail  and the particularly lyrical way of explaining time and place.  Some of the narrative is a little slow in places but I think this works as it helps to create a certain amount of tension.

With more than a nod towards those gothic classics- Jane Eyre, Woman in White and more recently Fingersmith and Affinity, The Animals of Lockwood Manor is an interesting addition to the genre.

About the Author

Jane Healey studied English Literature at Warwick University. She has been shortlisted for the Bristol Short Story Prize 2013, the Costa Short Story Award 2014, the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2016 and the Penguin Random House WriteNow mentoring programme 2017. The Animals at Lockwood Manor is her first novel. She lives in Edinburgh.

Twitter @Healey_Jane #TheAnimalsatLockwoodManor


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