Tuesday 31 October 2023

The Fortunes of Olivia Richmond - Louise Davidson

After a terrible tragedy, governess Julia Pearlie finds herself with no job, home, or references. When she’s offered a position as companion to Miss Olivia Richmond, her luck appears to be turning. But Mistcoate House is full of secrets.

Olivia has a sinister reputation. The locals call her the Mistcoate Witch, thanks to her tarot readings, and her insistence that she can speak to the dead. Her father, Dr Richmond, believes this to be girlish fantasy and is looking to Julia to put a stop to it. 

Determined to prove herself and shake off her own murky history, Julia sets to work trying to help Olivia become a proper young lady. However, as she becomes a fixture at Mistcoate, it is soon clear that there may be more to Olivia’s stories than Dr Richmond would have Julia believe – not least because somehow, Olivia seems to know something of the darkness that Julia desperately hoped she had left behind.

As the danger grows, and the winter chill wraps around the dark woods surrounding Mistcoate, Julia will have to fight to uncover the truth, escape her past – and save herself.

Original and engrossing, this chilling Victorian Gothic ghost story is an outstanding piece of storytelling, perfect for fans of Sarah Perry, Erin Morgenstern and Jessie Burton.

What did I think?

The haunting cover of The Fortunes of Olivia Richmond gives the reader some idea as to how dark it is inside and this spinetingling historical gothic novel is a great book to read over the spooky season.

Julia Pearlie comes from a wealthy family but as a woman she is left penniless when her brother inherits the family's wealth.  Forced to take a job as a governess, Julia now works for people who should have been her peers.  Of course the reader can't help but wonder how good Julia is at her job with a transcript from a drowning inquest at the start of the book and this is a sad story that literally haunts her.

Mistcoate House has its very own witch in the form of Olivia Richmond and Julia has been offered the position as Olivia's companion.  I felt so sorry for Olivia, living with a father who cares naught for her, a grandfather with dementia and a housekeeper who seems far too close to her employer for my liking.  It's like a bubbling cauldron of intrigue and it had me completely riveted.

Set in the late 19th century, it explores the Victorian obsession with the occult and how the body works.  Dr Richmond isn't beyond using his own daughter for experimentation to secure funding, after all she's only a girl.  Olivia is a talented tarot card reader and she seems to know more about Julia's past than she ought to, including the identity of the ghostly boy who lingers around Julia.

Spooky, creepy and mesmerising, The Fortunes of Olivia Richmond is a wonderful piece of historical fiction with a dark, gothic edge.  Perfect reading for Halloween.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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