The Haunted Woman

The Haunted Woman - Melissa Napier While I have to admit that I was never bored, and the first half of the book was deliciously Gothic (it was a perfect reading for today, which is cloudy and windy and a bit chilly outside), the plot is misleading and I am upset that I was cheated on.

The cover of the book says: An innocent and unsuspecting young governess falls prey to a bizarre family curse. Heart-stopping romantic suspense in the tradition of Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt.

First of all, Meredith is not a governess. She is a maid and companion of an invalid woman. There is not even one child in the whole story. Not sure why they meant with "bizarre family curse". There is not one single line in the whole book that indicates there may be a curse in the family. I don't think that the masters of the house even lived there their whole marriage. And in "the tradition of MS and VH"... Hardly. Some parts may be in the same line as MS, but not at all like VH (I want to make this very clear for all VH fans out there who keep looking for Gothic romances similar to her, like I do). The setting is in USA, New Jersey. There are cars, telephones, hearings... things that will never be in a VH book.

The back of the cover reads: A place estranged from time... An evil invalid mistress... A mysterious Lord of the Manor...

It suggests a Jane Eyre story, right? But far from it. The "place estrange from time"... hardly. The two manors where our MC lives in are just that... big houses without any important story. They are unrelated to the story. So maybe the 2nd house is somewhat important, but not as I was thinking.

And the "evil mistress"? Where did they get that from? There is not a single evil mistress in the entire story. Meredith takes care of this invalid woman who is unhappy, cannot talk or walk, and is only cheerful when Meredith is with her. The woman, Alicia, is struggling to remember what happened in her past that made her invalid. And that's it. Evil it says.. right.

"The mysterious Lord" could be. Dr. Williams is certainly mysterious, but far from the kind we fans of Gothic romances are used to. Let me tell you beforehand: He is not our Hero. Thank God. Meredith has some kind of Electra complex with this man. He is old enough to be her father (she says so several times), they barely talk, zero companionship, camaraderie, zero chemistry, but she is not sure if she is "in love with him". I think the poor girl needed to get out more and meet new people, seriously.

It is not like Meredith was TSTL, but she was kind of silly and not the kind of heroine I want in my Gothic novels. This is a quote of the book that described her perfectly:

She wished that it were possible for her to make up her own mind and do as she pleased, but even as she made this wish she knew that it was out of the question. She seemed to have no mind of her own, no will of her own. Rather, she was directed by others, forced to do as they wished her to do.

Again, not in the tradition of VH.

There were descriptions that I enjoyed reading, like every time Meredith was inside her bedroom and listened to the dark storm outside. But as for the plot, it was too far-fetched. The mystery was not really a mystery. About half of the book it is obvious who is who. Only that Meredith, with her pretty empty head, did not bother to examine the proof that lay in front of her.

As for the romance... disappointing. The least I could say. The end... more than disappointing. I was left with the feeling "and then?".

I would recommend it only if you could borrow the book. If it is to purchase it, don't bother.