Laudanum and Arsenic: The Devil in the Corner by Patricia Elliott Book Review

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The Devil in the Corner

By: Patricia Elliott

Released: March, 2014 by Hachette’s Children’s Books

Length: 400 Pages

Genre: Young Adult– Gothic/ Historical Fiction

Rating: 3 and a half Stars

Acquired: via netgalley

 After a terrible run as a governess, poor, orphaned Maud Greenwood can’t keep the nightmares away without some Laudanum at night. When she moves in with her cousin by marriage, Miss Juliana Greenwood,  her need begins to take over. Then, there is issues with her cousin; all is not what it seems. She is needy, persistent, and sees her as an unpaid nurse rather than family and a companion. Suddenly, as an event shakes the town, the “Devil” begins to take over. Part love story, part Victorian Gothic story, The Devil in the Corner is engaging and enthralling. Has the Devil really come?

The Devil in the Corner is a compelling story told by two narrators, Maud, and John Shawcross, her love interest who is a local artist set to restore the Doom painting in the local Church. Their love story often gets in the way of what really is happening; the relationship between Maud and Juliana, Maud’s Laudanum addiction, the visions she sees and imagines, the rumors and accusations brought forth against her. Although John offered a different perspective, full of love and want for Maud, his story was one that could be expendable in this 400 page novel. It was what happened to Maud that was the most interesting.

In this novel, there is an underlining theme of good and bad; with the “Devil” appearing later on. The painting John has to restore is of the Judgment which later becomes one of the central themes in the novel. In the begin, Maud keeps thinking she sees shadows and that someone is following her, thus assigning this to the Devil. She also believes she has heavily sinned, as she tries to tell John who does not believe in any religion. He believes in Darwinism. Which also becomes a conversation piece, however brief.Then an event happens that shakes the town and its beliefs. I won’t say what happens because, spoilers, but it’s big.

I liked how Elliott approached the idea of divinity and good and evil. The symbolism was strong. The way she used the Devil throughout her novel was really good. She didn’t throw it in the reader’s face. She approached it slowly, then sped things up at a nice, progressive pace. The plot twist was great. I enjoyed it immensely. It was unexpected, new, and kept me engaged. The chapters were often short, and left me wanting more. I rather breezed through this relatively long book that did not feel like 400 pages long. I really lost myself in the characters and plot. Juliana was the right amount of bad and needy. Maud was the right amount of scarred.

I would definitely recommend this book. It was an enjoyable read that I didn’t put down often. The Gothic aspect was very well written. The only issue I had was the love story which can be easily bypassed. It’s not that it’s cheesy, it’s just that it should take third chair to all the action that Maud sees. I hope you give this book a look over. Don’t be thrown by the pages, it’s shorter than it seems.

 

 

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For fans of Gillian Flynn: Eloise by Judy Finnigan Book review

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Eloise

By Judy Finnigan

Released September, 2013 by Redhook

Length: 384 pages

Genre: British contemporary mystery/ paranormal-ghosts

Rating: 3 and a half Stars

Acquired: via netgalley

A grieving best friend promises her friend’s ghost to save her kids from him

Set in Cromwell, with multiple references to Daphne du Maurier and her book Rebecca, both from Cromwell, comes a book about a woman who is haunted by the ghost of her newly dead best friend.  At forty-five, Eloise had succumbed to a five year battle with breast cancer. At the surface, it was cancer that took her life. But as her spirit remains, sneaking into Cathy’s dreams and pleading, mysteriously, with Cathy to not trust “him” and protect her girls, a mystery novel is born. Already fragile, having suffered from a clinical depression breakdown, Cathy isn’t the most reliable source when it comes to trying to convince those around her that there was something amiss in Eloise’s death and with Eloise’s husband, Ted.

Although Eloise’s ghost often haunts Cathy, I wouldn’t necessarily call this a ghost story. It is more of a mystery fueled by a spirit, if that makes sense. Nonetheless, Cathy is driven by what her best friend is telling her, alienating her from her husband and family. Part mystery novel, part novel on loss, Finnigan’s first novel is a success. I found myself drawn to Cathy; rooting for her when her psychiatrist husband shames her in front of her children, and everyone else; I could relate to her desperation and need to right a wrong, what wrong she doesn’t find out until the end. And, my the ending. I haven’t read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, but know of the twisty, holy hell ending. Let’s just say there was some of that here. I certainly didn’t expect some of what was discovered. Not even just secrets that were kept. It’s events, too.

I am normally not a fan of mysteries. I chose not to read Gone Girl and other similar books. I actually don’t remember what drew me to this book in the first place. I had it on my nook for a while. I picked up at page 30, where I left off two days ago, and promptly finished in one sitting. I’m glad I chose this novel. This wasn’t one of my regrettable choices. This is a solid contemporary mystery debut. The “paranormal” aspect isn’t so much paranormal and aliens are coming after you stuff. It is done in a nice, haunting way that is surprisingly relatable. The novel isn’t just about solving a mysterious case, it is a look at what happens when someone close to us dies; and, sometimes we never feel like they left, and if they did they left with unfinished business. I quite enjoyed this book as a whole. The plot was well-developed; you want to continue demystifying the mystery; Cathy is a great narrator; and the novel is multifaceted.  Well done Mrs. Finnigan on your first novel. I am impressed and look forward to reading another one of your novels.

I hope, my readers, that you will at least take a glance at this novel. It is more than what is at its surface. And, if you liked Gone Girl, I really think you’ll like Eloise.

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