Alison Littlewood's latest novel is a bit of a departure. The author is well known for her thrilling horror fiction and with her new book she continues to feature haunted houses and people, but with this novel there is the added element of historical fiction. Because of this I know this book will be a must read for anyone who like me devours tales of the Victorian gothic.
Inspired by a real life killing in the Irish countryside in the 1890s Littlewood relocates the action to her home county of Yorkshire in the 1860s. Albie is a London man, working his way up in his father's business. He first meets his young Yorkshire cousin Lizzie at The Great Exhibition in 1851, that great symbol of industry and technology. Eleven years later he is newly married and devastated to hear that not only is his cousin dead but her husband is accused of killing her; believing her to be a fairy changeling. Albie travels to the village of Halfoak to bury his cousin and discover what led to her death. In Halfoak he discovers a village that has remained almost unchanged for centuries where superstition holds sway and the villagers are reluctant to talk to an outsider. Alison Littlewood is fantastic at evoking a powerful almost claustrophobic atmosphere and a wonderful sense of clashing cultures as the old ways meet the new. This is a brilliant murder mystery full of gothic suspense and elements of magical realism. You will be entranced by the story as Albie questions what is real or not and wonders if the house is haunted, if his cousin was murdered or was she really a fairy. Perfect for fans of Wuthering Heights or The Woman in Black.
Thanks so much to Olivia Mead for sending me a copy to review.
Published by Jo Flethcher Books.