Being on a bit of a thriller binge but also hating most police procedurals, this psychological mystery crossed with an almost Bluebeard-esque love story immediately caught my attention. It is extremely addictive – and it features a librarian, a lover of books, and lots of food, so basically my two favourite things. Perfect to curl up with and spend an hour or two trying to figure out what is going on.
Many thanks to Black Crow PR and Black Spot Books for sending me an eARC for review and having me on the blog tour. All opinions are my own.
RELEASE DATE: 25/01/2022
STAR RATING: 4/5 ✶
SUMMARY: When librarian Sigrun falls head-over-heels for the sophisticated and very married Edgar Leyward, she never expects to find herself in his bed—or his heart. Nevertheless, when his enigmatic wife Octavia dies from a sudden illness, Sigrun finds herself caught up in a whirlwind romance worthy of the most lurid novels on her bookshelves.
Sigrun soon discovers Octavia wasn’t Edgar’s first lost love, or even his second. Three women Edgar has loved met early deaths. As she delves into her beloved’s past through a trove of discovered letters, the edges of Sigrun identity begin to disappear, fading into the women of the past. Sigrun tells herself it’s impossible for any dark magic to be at play—that the dead can’t possibly inhabit the bodies of the living—but something shadowy stalks the halls of the Leyward house and the lines between the love of the present and the obsessions of the past become increasingly blurred—and bloody. (from Black Spot Books)
OPINIONS: This is such an addictive read! It is quite short – closer to a long novella than a full-length novel, so it is easy to just get sucked in and read it in a single sitting. It starts out as very much a slightly gothic romance, with librarian Sigrun falling for her cooking instructor Edgar, turning from an emotional affair to a full-fledged whirlwind romance when a pandemic hits their community and Edgar suddenly becomes a widower. For a very long time, the story gives the reader the impression that something is very off here, but it is hard to figure out exactly what it is, whether it is supernatural or not, and that makes the book very uncanny to read.
I loved Sigrun as a main character despite all of her flaws – a librarian in her early thirties, and a total goth. As a book lover in their late twenties and a nerdy goth (not quite as all-out as Sigrun though), I totally identified with her, at least on a surface level. Less so when she was being an idiot, but that’s another matter. I’m a bit torn whether I am annoyed with how the book dealt with Sigrun losing herself in the relationship or whether that was extremely cleverly done in terms of plotting and worldbuilding. It definitely leads to a lot of psychological suspense and a story you don’t see every day.
Ultimately this isn’t a book that is deep literature or has any aspirations to be. It is entertainment and it does exactly what it says on the tin. It is the kind of book that would be amazing transported to a visual medium, I think, but while we wait for Netflix to pick up on that, don’t sleep and go read Hold My Place for creep and suspense with a good dose of sexy romance.