A gothic tale | Wakenhyrst review



Writing style: 5
Plot: 3
Characters & their development: 5
Originality: 3
Pacing: 3
Personal enjoyment: 4
Overall average: 3.5


-The characters
-the morally dubiosness
-the gothic vibe

-felt like it could have been more
-felt like there were a lot of loose ends




1906: A large manor house, Wake’s End, sits on the edge of a bleak Fen, just outside the town of Wakenhyrst. It is the home of Edmund Stearn and his family – a historian, scholar and land-owner, he’s an upstanding member of the local community. But all is not well at Wake’s End. Edmund dominates his family tyrannically, in particular daughter Maud. When Maud’s mother dies in childbirth and she’s left alone with her strict, disciplinarian father, Maud’s isolation drives her to her father’s study, where she happens upon his diary.

During a walk through the local church yard, Edmund spots an eye in the undergrowth. His terror is only briefly abated when he discovers its actually a painting, a ‘doom’, taken from the church. It’s horrifying in its depiction of hell, and Edmund wants nothing more to do with it despite his historical significance. But the doom keeps returning to his mind. The stench of the Fen permeates the house, even with the windows closed. And when he lies awake at night, he hears a scratching sound – like claws on the wooden floor…



Wakenhyrst is a gothic novel set in the 1960’s and the 1900’s where we follow two unreliable narrators and their tryst with a haunted painting.

Our main character Maud is a young girl, with her father for an adversary. The novel follows her as her father becomes more and more insane, and it shows how a 14-17 year old is forced to deal with that, alone. This is all surrounded by the story set in the 1960’s where Maud is having to sell her story to repair the house. Thus the novel is Maud retelling her past.

Personally I enjoyed my time reading wakenhyrst once I was about 150 pages into it. I found from this point on, the vibe of the book got darker, the characters more twisted and the line between reality and magic started to blur. I really enjoyed all these aspects of the novel, and in truth they are what kept me reading it.

However on the flip side, there were things I did not enjoy. The first 150 pages of this book moved slowly, as to set up our characters and their history. They were all important moments that lead to you understanding them better, but more often than not I found myself skimming then. Because at that point I didn’t care about the characters so I could not resonate with their pain or trials.

One of the most interesting parts of this novel, was the unreliable narrators present. There are two POV’s both Maud and her Father Edward. (There are also the extracts from his diary too) and neither of these characters are reliable. Edward because he is going insane, and losing his grip on reality and Maud because in this story she is retelling it to someone, and so she leaves out details that she admits at the end to the reader.

I really enjoyed the history laced in this novel, the mentions of the world wars, the correct artistry that would have been around and the way characters acted. It all fitted so perfectly with the time line that you could tell the author had done her research.

Overall I really enjoyed my time reading this book once it got going. Id recommend this to lovers of twisty thrillers and Victorian based novels


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