Sunday 19 May 2024

BLOG TOUR: The Small Museum - Jody Cooksley

A chilling historical mystery set against the gothic backdrop of Victorian London, The Small Museum won the Caledonia Novel Award in 2023 and is inspired by the extraordinary treasure trove of curiosities that is the Hunterian Museum in London.

London, 1873. Madeleine Brewster's marriage to Dr Lucius Everley was meant to be the solution to her family's sullied reputation. After all, Lucius is a well-respected collector of natural curiosities, his 'Small Museum' of bones and things in jars is his pride and joy, although kept under lock and key. His sister Grace's philanthropic work with fallen women is also highly laudable. However, Maddie is confused by and excluded from what happens in what is meant to be her new home.

Maddie's skill at drawing promises a role for her though when Lucius agrees to let her help him in making a breakthrough in evolutionary science, a discovery of the first 'fish with feet'. But the more Maddie learns about both Lucius and Grace, the more she suspects that unimaginable horrors lie behind their polished reputations.

Framed for a crime that would take her to the gallows and leave the Everleys unencumbered, Maddie’s only hope is her friend Caroline Fairly. But will she be able to put the pieces together before the trial reaches its fatal conclusion?

What did I think?

Now that's what I call gothic!  With an array of weird and wonderful curiosities, a dark and brooding doctor and a Victorian murder trial, The Small Museum is a delightfully dark and chilling read.

Maddie's sister brought shame on the Brewster family so when an eminent doctor steps forward to marry her, her parents couldn't be happier.  Marriage to Lucius is not what Maddie expected and she feels like a visitor in her new home, especially when the staff take orders from her sister-in-law, Grace.  Even without the trial chapters, it is clear that something is not right in the Everley household.

I loved the way this book is written with a curiosity from Lucius' collection heading each chapter and it was like hunting Easter eggs seeing where this same item was hidden in the immaculate prose.  The trial chapters add intrigue and suspense as the clock ticks down to the verdict.

Beautifully written and incredibly intriguing, The Small Museum is a chilling, haunting and disturbing gothic novel.  Jody Cooksley's beautiful writing paints such a vivid picture of Victorian London that I felt as if I had stepped back in time.  It's a very unusual book and one I would recommend.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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About the author:
JODY COOKSLEY studied literature at Oxford Brookes University and has a Masters in Victorian Poetry. Her debut novel The Glass House was a fictional account of the life of nineteenth-century photographer, Julia Margaret Cameron.

The Small Museum, Jody’s third novel, won the 2023 Caledonia Novel Award.

Jody is originally from Norwich and now lives in Cranleigh,Surrey.

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