Published by Sapere Books
Published on the 24th of May 2019
Historical Fiction/Cosy Mystery
Book #4 in the Mina Scarletti series
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Sapere Books, and the author via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Mina Scarletti has been invited to Hollow House, the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Honeyacre – newlyweds looking forward to starting their life together in the big, beautiful mansion. Mina’s visit isn’t just for tea and crumpets however, it’s for a much darker reason. Mrs. Honeyacre has been having unsettling feelings since being in the house, along with the fear from their maids, who refuse to stay in the house after dark, things are getting serious. Mr. Honeyacre wants nothing more than to settle into a nice, quiet life with his beloved, but the ghosts must be taken care of first. Mina is a sceptic and is not afraid to say so, if anyone can get to the bottom of what’s really going on, it’s her. But what if it is a spirit? Is she prepared to believe it?
This story is number 4 in Stratmann’s Mina Scarletti cosy mystery series, however, it’s the first one that I’ve had the pleasure of reading. I’m a sucker for a good, cosy mystery, and if it has supernatural elements involved, it’s even better. So this one was a no brainer for me when I first came across it on Netgalley. Sometimes you just need a good haunted house story to make you feel comfortable, hahaha.
The story was a slow burn historical fiction mystery, it’s setting is Sussex 1872. Mina is a sceptic and has had past success with putting mediums and clairvoyants who were nothing but charlatans and money hungry monsters, behind bars where they belong and can no longer prey on the weak and grief stricken. Her close friend Mrs. Jordan comes calling one day with news that she has been invited up to her friend, Kitty’s, house where she is now residing with her new husband, Mr. Honeyacre. After Mrs. Jordan explains to Mina what’s been happening at Hollow House, and how Kitty has asked if she would mind accompanying Mrs. Jordan on her trip so that maybe she can put an end to all of the awfulness that has befallen her. Mina is reluctant as the weather is cold and she has trouble with her scoliosis, after much discussion, it is decided that Mina will attend the house with Mrs. Jordan only if her physician Dr. Hamid agrees to come with them. The trio soon find themselves travelling to the elusive Hollow House, and it’s possible ghostly inhabitants.
I found the story to be a very slow burn, but it wasn’t too bad, sometimes it’s nice to slow down. I did find that it felt like it took me ages to get through the book, which, when it only has 325 pages, I begin to worry a bit. I do find that historical fiction can take a bit longer for me to read as the dialogue and narration is obviously a bit different to that of the modern day. I still enjoyed the story though, so it wasn’t that bad, I just wish I’d gotten through it a little quicker.
The characters were likeable and each had their own distinctive personality and voice which I enjoy. The character of Mina was interesting and I love that Stratmann has written Mina’s character in such a distinctive way, it’s not often that you come across a character that has something like scoliosis. I myself have Scheuermann’s kyphosis, so it was kinda nice to have a character with similar issues to myself, though Mina’s is much, much worse than my own ailment which causes tightness in the muscles and discomfit and pain. I just thought it was cool to have a representation of a medical issue that generally isn’t thought about. I also enjoyed the character of Mrs. Jordan, I thought her personality was so big it just about jumped off the page, she was very enjoyable.
Halfway through the story (or there abouts, it was probably earlier if I’m honest), we encounter a couple of characters, one of which Mina has had a run in with before. He’s big into the spiritual side of life and is all about those mediums, clairvoyants, and ghosts. There were a couple of instances that past cases of Mina’s were alluded to, but I didn’t feel like I really lost out on anything having not read them before this one. I would be interested to see what actually happened though, especially with the character that is introduced in this story that Mina already knew. It was clear from the get go that they were going to butt heads and have large differences of opinion on the matter of the haunting.
I thought it was fantastic that Stratmann actually did proper research into the time period and area that she was writing, there’s a bit at the back of the book that explains the reality of things that were included in the story and I thought that was absolutely fantastic. Something else I also enjoyed was that Mina is an author, she uses what happened at Hollow House as inspiration for her next story, we actually get to read this story, though not the ending as she hadn’t finished that before she was due to attend the big ball that was happening. I thought it was a great little added extra to have that there and see what Mina did with the inspiration. To be honest though, I was tempted to stop reading at that point because the big reveal had already happened, and the loose ends were tied up, so I didn’t see the point in continuing if it was just Mina’s story that we had left to read, however, I discovered that there is a bit more of the actual story after this, so do keep reading if you’re thinking about finishing up before you get there.
The mystery was a good one, and I enjoyed that we also got answers for what had happened in previous times in the house. I love a story that ties everything up, without being rushed.
All in all, it was an okay story that I did end up enjoying, I just wish the pacing was a bit better because it did feel like it was dragging at times. It was a nice historical cosy mystery, and I look forward to seeing what the rest of the series has to offer.