Review: The House of Brides by Jane Cockram

 

Title: The House of Brides

Author: Jane Cockram

Published: October 21st 2019, HQ Fiction

Status: Read October 2019, courtesy Harlequin/Netgalley

++++++

My Thoughts:

“Everyone seemed to be hiding something. There were things that seemed not quite right, parts of the story that didn’t quite ring true. Things only another storyteller would notice.”

After her social media career implodes in a rather spectacular manner, Miranda Courtenay is left reviled and broke. Though her wealthy father has arranged a fresh start for her, a letter from a young cousin she has never met sees Miranda flee Australia to her late mother’s ancestral home, Barnsley House, on England’s west coast.

As the setting of a best selling biography, ‘The House of Brides’ written by Miranda’s mother, Tessa Courtenay née Summers, Miranda has always wanted to visit Barnsley House to meet her estranged relatives, and learn more about the mother she never really knew, but she soon discovers the house is a maelstrom of secrets, resentments, tragedy, and scandal.

I’d describe The House of Brides as contemporary gothic, with what I thought were obvious echoes of genre classics such as Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, with perhaps even a nod to the works of V.C Andrews.

Cockram certainly creates an eerie atmosphere in The House of Brides. Barnsley House is an isolated rambling stone mansion on a cliff’s edge, half shuttered due to the temporary closure of the hotel and restaurant operated by Max Summer, and his bride, Daphne, inhabited by a group of reticent residents. As documented in Tessa’s book, it has also been the site of both triumph and tragedy, especially for the women of the Summers family, and is rumoured to have the ghost of a ‘House’ bride lurking in the East wing.

Unfortunately I really didn’t care much for Miranda. I may have been more forgiving of her character if she was aged closer to 16, rather than 26, as it was I found her to be painfully immature, self centred, and occasionally wilfully obtuse. At times I didn’t understand her behaviour at all, and that made it difficult to connect with her. As for the rest of the characters, they are suitably enigmatic for a gothic novel, most of whom have an edge of menace, or madness, or both.

While overall I thought The House of Brides had a decent premise, I did find it was a little messy and disjointed in places. Some of that, I think, had to do with the poor formatting of the e-arc. With plenty of intrigue, and atmosphere I do think most of the elements were there for a great story, but it didn’t quite all come together for me.

++++++

Available from HarperCollins AU I HarperCollins US

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository

US Cover