The Wrong Girl (The 1st Freak House Trilogy) by C.J. Archer
Publish Date May 25, 2013
Paperback 218 pages
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It's customary for Gothic romance novels to include a mysterious girl locked in the attic. Hannah Smith just wishes she wasn't that girl. As a narcoleptic and the companion to an earl's daughter with a strange affliction of her own, Hannah knows she's lucky to have a roof over her head and food in her belly when so many orphans starve on the streets. Yet freedom is something Hannah longs for. She did not, however, want her freedom to arrive in the form of kidnapping.
Taken by handsome Jack Langley to a place known as Freak House, she finds herself under the same roof as a mad scientist, his niece, a mute servant and Jack, a fire starter with a mysterious past. They assure Hannah she is not a prisoner and that they want to help her. The problem is, they think she's the earl's daughter. What will they do when they discover they took the wrong girl?
So in digging through my books on my Kindle I came across this little gem and read it this afternoon. Not only is it a Gothic romance, but it's got a supernatural mystery in it as well as a snarky main character, or maybe I should use the word "cheeky"? In any case, Hannah definitely livens up the atmosphere of the typical Gothic landscape and made this a fun enjoyable novel.
The story takes place in England, somewhere in the countryside. Hannah is the companion to an Earl's daughter who has a strange affliction. Because of this, they have sequestered the daughter to the attic (don't think Flowers in the Attic) a comfortable if somewhat sparse place. Hannah, an orphan of servants, is lucky, she could be on the streets or in an orphanage, but instead can roam about the attic, has a true friendship with the Earl's daughter Violet, and they even get to roam about the gardens on occasion. She has had the tutoring of a privileged upbringing and her belly is always full, her rooms always warm. But she can't help but look about when they come downstairs and out the front door to walk the gardens, wondering what it would be like to come an go. She is fiesty even if she is only a companion to the Earl's daughter. She's secure in her position so she doesn't hold her tongue with the governess or the footman who speaks to Lady Violet but ignores her. This sort of explains her spirit-
"Good afternoon, Pearson," I said breezily. (Pearson is the footman holding the door as they go out.) He hadn't addressed me, but sometimes, when I was feeling particularly irreverent, I cast aside the rules of propriety, I was, after all, a prisoner, a narcoleptic and a companion to a lady who started fires with her mind. Propriety was the least of my concerns.
As the summary says, Hannah gets snatched instead of Violet, but she plays along with the kidnappers pretending she is Violet to keep her friend safe. The confusion is believable, no one knows the one from the other except the governess who was conveniently missing at the time of the kidnapping. They both have red hair though Hannah describes her own as "orange!" and Violet's as mahogany. The biggest concern is what will the kidnappers do when they find out she isn't Violet. But Hannah wakes up in a carriage with a pert blonde girl, about her age who happily offers her reticule (after she empties it) for her just in case her stomach is upset. And again, in keeping with her cheeky attitude, Hannah throws up in it and offers it back to her. That's Hannah!
So, no Jane Eyre's or Cathy's. A really fun character in a somewhat confusing situation. I can't say more without ruining the surprise of it. It was predictable in some places, but the fun dialogue especially between Jack and Hannah and the mad scientist, August Langley made it less so. Hannah had a bit of the rush in without thinking first that so many heroines do, but I can forgive her given the giggles she gave me. I am very curious to see where the story leads. And according to Goodreads and the author's website, the next book releases soon.
You can read more about CJ Archer or reach her here-