December 2, 2023

Novel Lives

Book Publicity, Reviews, Author Interviews, and Discussion Posts by Susan Crosby

Hester Fox’s Last Heir To Blackwood Library Is A Poignant, Gothic Tale

The Last Heir To Blackwood Library By Hester Fox- Summary

Goodreads Summary of The Last Heir To Blackwood Library by Hester Fox: Please note this review was a buddy read/review with Becky (Crooks Books)- review linked. 

In a postWorld War I England, a young woman inherits a mysterious library and must untangle its powerful secrets

With the stroke of a pen, twenty-three-year-old Ivy Radcliffe becomes Lady Hayworth, owner of a sprawling estate on the Yorkshire moors. Ivy has never heard of Blackwood Abbey, or of the ancient bloodline from which she’s descended. With nothing to keep her in London since losing her brother in the Great War, she warily makes her way to her new home.

The abbey is foreboding, the servants reserved and suspicious. But there is a treasure waiting behind locked doors: a magnificent library. Despite cryptic warnings from the staff, Ivy feels irresistibly drawn to its dusty shelves, where familiar works mingle with strange, esoteric texts. And she senses something else in the library too, a presence that seems to have a will of its own.

Rumors swirl in the village about the abbey’s previous owners, ghosts and curses, and an enigmatic manuscript at the center of it all. And as events grow more sinister, it will be up to Ivy to uncover the library’s mysteries in order to reclaim her own story—before it vanishes forever.

The Last Heir To Blackwood Library- Review

Hester Fox’s The Last Heir to Blackwood Library is brilliantly crafted with elements of Gothic Fiction, Historical Fiction, and the Paranormal. Moreover, it utilizes a main character who, over time becomes an unreliable narrator. However, because she doesn’t start out that way, Hester Fox is able to give a very unique twist to this structure.

Due to the growing unreliability of Ivy Radcliffe’s memory, and the secrets that surround her via the supporting cast, Fox is able to grab readers on multiple fronts. First, she creates a first-class mystery around not just Ivy, but other characters as well. Additionally, this adds to the suspense. While you experience Ivy’s failing memory, you know there are secrets being hidden from her, making everything more suspenseful.

The Last Heir To Blackwood Library- Characters

A level of emotional connection is created through Ivy’s grief. She lost her father and brother to World War I. This creates desperation in her to find belonging, while leaving her vulnerable to the dangers surrounding her. It is easy for readers to connect to Ivy through these experiences and pain.

In the absence of answers about her own family, every story, every antidote helped her understand what James and her father had gone through. It felt like they’d all been in a story together. A book, but her father and brother had gotten to the ending and she needed to fill in the pages…

While she experiences a paranormal presence that means her harm as soon as she sets foot in Blackwood Abbey, on the moors of York. It doesn’t halt her need to believe and belong. Ivy is determined to make it work.

She belonged here and after years of being a drift it felt good to know that she was more than just a ghost. That she truly existed.

Ivy is a resolute young woman that wants to utilize the old library for not just her benefit, but the village. Yet no matter how hard she tries, she seems to bring pain to herself and the village, due to the library. And while most of her servants are hiding secrets, keys to unlock what Ivy faces, just one drops vague hints to get her out before it is too late.

Review and Summary

Thank you to Harper Audio for an advanced copy of The Last Heir To Black Wood Library, released April 4th

Hester Fox’s Writing And Living Setting

I feel like I’ve said this about a few books recently, and it thrills me. It is normally very hard to find settings written well enough to become characters in their own right. However, this is the third review that features this hard-to-write feature. The Last Word and She Started It other two other books that feature settings that are essential to the plot, and characters in their own right. The more, abbey and the actual library bring an ambiance to The Last Heir To Blackwood Library. It creates conflict, and suspense and adds to the mystery surrounding the entire story.

Having said that, it is easy to flow into Hester Fox’s writing. She interweaves mystery, unreliability, family history, and reliable narrators with hidden secrets. Through this deft writing, an intense sense of dread and intrigue awaits readers. Her writing is fierce yet crafted with a vague sense of suspense.

What a terrible burden to hold a man’s life in the balance. Even if the man is evil incarnate. Memories, hidden ones that she had always kept close to her heart smoldered and flared like lightning striking a tree.

The Last Heir To Blackwood Library- Final Thoughts

I’m not sure how much more I can say without spoiling the story. I hope I haven’t already said too much. It should be obvious by now, how much I loved The Last Heir To Blackwood Library. For anyone that loves gothic historical fiction. One that has a menacing sense of mystery, and danger? You are in for a treat.

Author Writing

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