When I request an ARC from NetGalley, I like to mix it up a bit. This is how I read – a little non-fiction, middle grade, literary fiction, and YA. Sometimes, I throw in a dystopian book, sometimes even a picture book. It keeps my reading pattern interesting, and I don’t get bored reading all of the same kinds of books. When I picked The Revenant of Thraxton Hall, I went a bit outside my typical mix, to pick a book described as mystery/thriller, Sci Fi and Fantasy. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
When I read books that take place in the past, I love it when the author judiciously writes about the time to include people you recognize. So, even though I was expecting to read about Arthur Conan Doyle, I was even more excited to see where Oscar Wilde fit in. This story takes place after Doyle has decided to “kill off” his immensely popular Sherlock Holmes character, and he is getting quite a backlash from his readers. He wants to write something more literary and he’s tired of being typecast by his famous character… sound familiar, J.K. Rowling?
The mystery of the story hinges on a meeting of the “Society for Psychical Research” – a group that still exists today. This is the perfect set-up for a murder mystery: unsigned letters, far-off places, strangers stranded together, disappearances, séances, and magic. The story was unpredictable at times, but even when it was predictable it was still enjoyable.
The characters in the book were compelling. I love a quirky cast of oddballs, and this was a terrific one. The group that gathered at Thraxton Hall was united for a common purpose, but their personal histories and careers gave what could have been caricature a certain depth.
The author’s note at the end is the perfect finish, giving the behind the scenes information regarding the research and context of the story. I loved that Doyle and Wilde were friends, so it was even better to find that their literary circle also included Barrie, Stoker, and many other famous artists of the time. I was excited to see that this was Book 1 – I would love to solve another mystery with these characters.
Trivia note: If you read the author bio on Amazon, you might have seen this awesome gem – the author, Vaugn Entwistle, aside from having a cool name, did not wait tables while he scribbled away at night. He ran a gargoyle sculpting business. Now that sounds like a story.