Louisa Cosgrove is the main character of this great Gothic tale with a twist. She is not your average Victorian girl. While other girls play with dolls, she plays marbles with her brother. She takes apart her expensive doll to see how it is made. And she wants to be a doctor. She is a constant source of trouble to her mother, only because she doesn't follow the social norms of Victorian society. Her father, a doctor, encourages her to learn though and before he dies, wishes that she become a doctor.
Louisa and her brother Tom don't get along. She hopes after her father dies that he will help her convince her mother to let her go to medical school. But when she visits Tom in London, she finds him unkempt and broke and finds he's been gambling and he laughs at her dreams.
Louisa is dogged by her mother after her father dies. She is lost without him and Louisa does everything even sleeping in the same room with her mother. Her one escape is to Carr Head where her cousin Grace is about to be married. Louisa goes without her mother and after drinking a little too much wine makes the mistake of speaking her mind about women being as capable as men at being doctors. The men at the table, including Grace's fiance are outraged and Louisa runs out in shame. Later Louisa commits an unthinkable act and runs away from Carr Head with only a note not even taking a carriage back to her home.
Tom and a friend come home for a visit and it is then that Louisa complains to Tom about all the work she does for her mother and how her mother never leaves her alone. Tom comes up with a solution for her to be a companion to his friend's older sister. It's not being a doctor, but it couldn't be any worse than where she is now.
Louisa is packed off on bad terms with her mother who has been given a companion and that is where the reality of Louisa's situation hits her. For she isn't a companion to anyone. And her letters to home are returned. She cannot escape where she is and no one is going to save her. And when she thinks things can't get worse, they do. So much so that she considers the unthinkable. She tried to unravel the mystery of how she got to where she is and when she thinks she's got it all figured out, a shock sends her reeling and pulls any kind of stability she had out from under her.
There are lots of dark undertones in the novel, Louisa's house is heavy and dark contrasted by the lightness of Carr Head. Her mother is strict and religious. There isn't a lot of laughter in the house. Brother and sister don't get along and Louisa is a constant sore spot for her mother. The place Louisa finds herself is much darker. There may not be ghosts, but it's a type of hell no one in the Victorian era or today would want to find themselves put in.
But there is romance as always in a Gothic novel and the source is not a dark source but light and happy, just an unusual source.
I had forgotten how much I loved Gothic romances. I don't even know if I could pick one out anymore of the shelves. They've probably been replaced with paranormal romances which I also love. But I remember reading them as a young girl and the thrill of wondering if the man the girl was in love with would murder her or save her. Do they have a Gothic romance section anymore? I really recommend this book to anyone that likes Gothic romances, mysteries and plot twists. I can't say anymore without giving a big part of the book away.
This book was given to me by netgalley as an E-Book ARC. I do not receive any monetary or other form of compensation for my review.