From New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray—a summer house party turns into a thrilling whodunit when Mr. Wickham, one of literature’s most notorious villains, meets a sudden and suspicious end in this brilliantly imagined mystery featuring Jane Austen’s leading literary characters.
The happily married Mr. Knightley and Emma are throwing a house party, bringing together distant relatives and new acquaintances—characters beloved by Jane Austen fans. Definitely not invited is Mr. Wickham, whose latest financial scheme has netted him an even broader array of enemies. As tempers flare and secrets are revealed, it’s clear that everyone would be happier if Mr. Wickham got his comeuppance. Yet they’re all shocked when Wickham turns up murdered—except, of course, for the killer hidden in their midst.
Nearly everyone at the house party is a suspect, so it falls to the party’s two youngest guests to solve the mystery: Juliet Tilney, the smart and resourceful daughter of Catherine and Henry, eager for adventure beyond Northanger Abbey; and Jonathan Darcy, the Darcys’ eldest son, whose adherence to propriety makes his father seem almost relaxed. In a tantalizing fusion of Austen and Christie, the unlikely pair must put aside their own poor first impressions and uncover the guilty party—before an innocent person is sentenced to hang.
Title : The Drowned Woods
Author : Claudia Gray
Format : eARC
Page Count : 320
Genre : historical fiction / mystery
Publisher : Vintage Books
Release Date : May 3, 2022
Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★
Hollis’ 3 star review
I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing a slow painful death for Mr. Wickham, he of Pride and Prejudice and Austen infamy. And while this didn’t quite deliver in that exacting way, he’s still dead! Three cheers for that.
What also drew me to this title, vicious longing for murder aside, was the idea of all of Austen’s famous couples gathered under one roof and subject to, essentially, a locked room mystery. Would they get along? Who would be the first suspect? Who would actually do it.. and why? I mean, we don’t need a why but would there be a why we wouldn’t see coming?
And, overall, this was good fun. I liked that Gray gave each couple very real conflicts, outside of the mystery, that did not seem fabricated and instead were likely issues that had plagued these characters or, due to circumstances, had caused certain issues to come to light. Each couple were in various stages of their HEA; some were long married, with grown children, some had only been married a few years, and others, only months. Each was a different perspective on their “what comes after” and each with their own concerns and issues. I really enjoyed it. Some, of course, more than others because we all have favourites.
Equally, we also see some secondary characters visit. Some we probably weren’t fans of to begin with but, at least, none so loathsome as Wickham.
I never guessed the culprit or the motive, by the way. I was just along for the ride. But it was completely realistic and not remotely out of left field — in case you are worried.
Gray is not a new or untried author to me, I’ve read much of her YA backlist, but this particular venture was a surprise. I have no idea if she’s shifting to adult permanently, or even historical fiction in general, but I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for what comes next.
** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **