September 10, 2019
Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Cozy Mystery, Siblings, Yorkshire
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Thank you #netgalley #berkleypublishinggroup @BerkleyPub for a complimentary eARC of #thevanishedbride by @brontemysteries (Bella Ellis) upon my request. All opinions are my own.
The Vanished Bride is the highly imagined story of the famous Brontë Sisters before they were authors. In 1845, when all four Brontë siblings return home to live with their father (for various reasons), Charlotte, Emily, and Anne hear about the disappearance and suspected murder of a young neighbor woman, they decide to become lady detectors and embark on an ambitious endeavor to solve the mystery. Relying on their resourcefulness, determination, energy, wits, cleverness, and creativity, they investigate, interrogate, analyze clues, and follow leads. The sisters need to pursue these activities without drawing attention to themselves because of the expectations for women and their roles at that time. Since they are already intrigued by the idea of becoming authors in a male-dominated field, they are already thinking outside the box and challenging boundaries. Although at times they need to involve their brother, most of the investigation is accomplished without the knowledge of their protective father. Will they solve the mystery of the vanished bride?
Characters: Through careful research, the author creates authentic and delightfully entertaining characterizations of the three sisters. Their different personalities and interactions are my favorite part of the story. If you love the Brontë sisters, you might love this imagined historical mystery based on their lives.
The Mystery: Although I had a prediction about the vanished bride’s fate early in the story, I didn’t figure out the whodunit or how it was done until it was revealed at the end. The mystery kept me engaged. I think the story might fit well in the cozy mystery genre as it involves time for afternoon tea and amateur sleuths.
The Writing: I enjoyed the unique premise of The Vanished Bride, and I think it’s cleverly executed. The writing is descriptive and atmospheric and transports us back to the 1800s when the Brontë sisters were young adults and beginning to write. It is written in a style reminiscent of what the Brontë Sisters themselves might have written. There is a definite feminist vibe in the story and the plight of women living at this time is strongly portrayed. Today, we recognize the Brontë Sisters for shattering a glass ceiling in the publishing industry at the time, and the author capitalizes on this to infuse a feminist theme throughout the story. I agree with the sentiments, but I’m in the camp that prefers to draw my own conclusions rather than to have things pointed out. This falls under the category of personal preference and does not affect my recommendation, although it did affect my star rating.
Themes: As mentioned, The Vanished Bride includes strong feminist themes as well as themes that include friendship, loyalty, complicated sibling relationships, domestic abuse, hidden romance (f/f), and women’s roles.
Content Warnings: discussion of domestic abuse, description of a crime scene
Recommended: I recommend The Vanished Bride for readers who might be intrigued by a cozy mystery/hisfic, for fans of the Brontë Sisters, and for book clubs because of a variety of discussion topics. With the exception of the discovery of a murder, I consider this an adult PG read. In addition, you might be interested to know that this is the first in a series.
My Rating: 4 Stars
Meet the Author, Bella Ellis
Bella Ellis is the Brontë-esque pseudonym of Rowan Coleman, an acclaimed author of numerous novels for adults and children. She first visited the former home of the Brontë sisters when she was ten years old. From the moment she stepped over the threshold she was hooked, and embarked on a lifelong love affair with Charlotte, Emily, and Anne; their life; their literature; and their remarkable legacy.
Have you read a book by one of the Brontë Sisters?
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Friday, I’ll have a review of If You Want to Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais.
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