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The Curse of Penryth Hall: A Mystery por…
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The Curse of Penryth Hall: A Mystery (edição 2023)

por Jess Armstrong (Autor)

MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
8816302,550 (3.98)7
"An atmospheric gothic mystery that beautifully brings the ancient Cornish countryside to life, Armstrong introduces heroine Ruby Vaughn in her Minotaur Books & Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award-winning debut, The Curse of Penryth Hall. After the Great War, American heiress Ruby Vaughn made a life for herself running a rare bookstore alongside her octogenarian employer and house mate in Exeter. She's always avoided dwelling on the past, even before the war, but it always has a way of finding her. When Ruby is forced to deliver a box of books to a folk healer living deep in the Cornish countryside, she is brought back to the one place she swore she'd never return. A more sensible soul would have delivered the package and left without rehashing old wounds. But no one has ever accused Ruby of being sensible. Thus begins her visit to Penryth Hall. A foreboding fortress, Penryth Hall is home to Ruby's once dearest friend, Tamsyn, and her husband, Sir Edward Chenowyth. It's an unsettling place,and after a more unsettling evening, Ruby is eager to depart. But her plans change when Penryth's bells ring for the first time in thirty years. Edward is dead; he met a gruesome end in the orchard, and with his death brings whispers of a returned curse.It also brings Ruan Kivell, the person whose books brought her to Cornwall, the one the locals call a Pellar, the man they believe can break the curse. Ruby doesn't believe in curses-or Pellars-but this is Cornwall and to these villagers the curse is anything but lore, and they believe it will soon claim its next victim: Tamsyn. To protect her friend, Ruby must work alongside the Pellar to find out what really happened in the orchard that night"--… (mais)
Membro:Sarah-Hope
Título:The Curse of Penryth Hall: A Mystery
Autores:Jess Armstrong (Autor)
Informação:Minotaur Books (2023), 336 pages
Coleções:A sua biblioteca
Avaliação:***
Etiquetas:Nenhum(a)

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The Curse of Penryth Hall por Jess Armstrong

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Ah, this story had so much potential but convoluted character development and sloppy plotting drag it down to two stars. I never much cared about Ruby or her friend Tamsyn and some of the plot points were never fully explored or explained. The audiobook narration was good for every character with an accent but melodramatic for Ruby, the only American, though the fault may be the writing. The author leaves the door open for a future Ruby adventure but never fully closes the door on this one. ( )
  bookappeal | Jan 14, 2024 |
The Curse of Penryth Hall is an interesting murder mystery / gothic story set in the 1920s. I enjoyed the atmosphere of the book as well as the time period as I am always interested in post-WWI historical fiction writing as I don't think there is enough of it.

I really liked the Ruby, the main character, as it would be very difficult to be an independent woman during this time period, but circumstances have led her to be leery of relationships and distrustful. Considering what happened to her and how families 'dealt' with problems during this time period, she came out rather lucky, so I totally understand where she is coming from and why she would not want to give up her independence. I liked how the author made her life difficult because some of the things she did would have shocked people during this time period and she would have suffered consequences, even dangerous ones. However, I don't feel the author managed to do the same with the other characters, except the cat? Ruan actually drove me nuts as he seemed like two different people half of the time, his character development almost non-existent because the author couldn't seem to make up her mind as to how she wanted him to appear. For example, he would be nice and friendly to Ruby one minutes, then the next time they would meet, he would be cruel and dismissive, almost as if he was putting on a show for those around him. Not a genuine person at all. And the other characters were written this way as well.

The writing itself was well done, and I enjoyed the atmospheric setting of the mansion and the lands. There were quite a few twists and turns I wasn't expecting which made the story intriguing as I wasn't sure if I was reading a simply mystery or a gothic suspense. While some of the plot points were a bit silly, and Ruan sometimes ruined a scene for me, I thoroughly enjoyed Ruby's investigations because she often used logic and sense when seeking information. It was also a bit of a slow burn, sometimes too much of one.

Verdict
The Curse of Penryth Hall seems to have more elements of a gothic mystery in it, but I would have to say also some elements of magical realism. I thought Ruby's character development was interesting and I enjoyed learning more about her, but I thought the others could have been better and would have added more to the story. The overall plot was interesting, but did have a tendency to meander causing it to slow down and focus on things that I don't think were necessary to the story. There was a lot of potential in this book and the writing was solid, so I will definitely read more from this author in the future. ( )
  StephanieBN | Jan 7, 2024 |
One of the interesting things about this book was the slightly dark sexual undercurrent that ran through the story- it was also one of the annoying things. Put it out there once and let the reader run with it. Aside from that, this was a very well drawn gothic style mystery with interesting characters and just the right amount of twists and turns. The dynamic between Ruby and Ruan, the two main characters, and his ability to read some of her inner thoughts added just the right touch of humor when things seemed to be taking a left turn.

Recently I have read several writers who focus on Cornwall for not only this type of story but for police procedural murder mysteries. They have all been well written and provided me with hours of entertaining reading. Congratulations to Jess Armstrong on a very solid debut novel. Thanks to St. Martin’s Press / Minotaur Books and NetGalleyfor a copy. ( )
  kimkimkim | Dec 30, 2023 |
This was a most enjoyable historical gothic mystery with a slight paranormal twist. It is set in the early 1920s of Exeter and Cornwall, England. Ruby Vaughn, our plucky and free-spirited protagonist, is an American heiress who fears nothing. After a valorous stint as an Army nurse in WWI, she charges in where others fear to tread. She works for an aging English antiquarian who has sent her off to the hinterlands of Cornwall to deliver a hoard of books to one of his friends, who just happens to be a small village's folk healer or "pellar". Ruby's dearest friend lives at Penryth Hall - quite close to her destination. So, she stops by to say hello and gets wrangled into an extended stay with the friend. One thing leads to another and a body is found on the grounds of Penryth which is attributed to a long-standing curse. Ruby gets dragged in further and further. If she's ever to leave this small village of small-minded folks, she'll have to solve the murder. But can she survive the ordeal?

This was a highly atmospheric, somewhat dark mystery. The writing is rich and the characters colorful. The scene setting is cinematic in scope and the tension is steady throughout. I was amazed to discover that this was Ms. Armstrong's first published book. I can only believe that it is the first of many to come.

I am grateful to Minotaur Books for having provided a complimentary uncorrected digital galley of this book through NetGalley. Their generosity, however, has not influenced this review - the words of which are mine alone.

Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: December 5, 2023
No. of Pages: 336
ISBN No.: 978-1250886019 ( )
  KateBaxter | Dec 29, 2023 |
I received this book for free, this does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review

Sir Edward Chenowyth was laid out in the middle of the orchard beneath a verdant canopy, with lace-like bits of sunlight breaking through the leaves casting a pattern on the ground below. At first blush one might assume the fellow had fallen asleep watching the wind play in the leaves above, were not his body contorted in a peculiar serpentine position. Or were his face not ripped beyond recognition.

As with any good Gothic, a dark and broody manor Penryth Hall resides in the Cornish countryside where the village citizens believe in curses and our intrepid heroine, Ruby, gets mixed up in a murder mystery told all from her point-of-view. Ruby's been to this Hall before and had made a promise to never return, her former bestfriend and intimate partner Tamsyn lives there, with her husband. After feeling betrayed by Tamsyn and turning her back on the life Ruby thought she'd live with her, Tamsyn married a baron. However, the fatherly figure, Mr. Owen, who has taken Ruby under his wing, has a trunk of books for Ruby to deliver to that area. After ignoring a letter from Tamsyn, begging Ruby to help her, Ruby decides this is fate telling her to check in on Tamsyn.

“Ruan, I need to know something.”
“What?”
“Are you or aren’t you a witch?”


After “meeting” Ruby, learning her trauma that she still holds from being a nurse in WWI (it's 1922), the murder mystery gets going fairly quickly. When Ruby agrees to deliver the books to a Mr. Kivell, she's in the Cornish countryside within a few chapters. There, fate seems to have her meeting Mr. Kivell, first name Ruan, in a fated way and within the first night of her checking in on her former friend Tamsyn, the baron is found murdered. Again, as with any good Gothic, the question of whether it is human or paranormal forces at work is swirled around. Ruan is the countryside's Pellar (a good witch), and with Ruby being an American, she instantly has friction with Ruan and everyone's thinking that it's the “Curse”. The family Tamsyn married into is said to be cursed by a witch because of the baron's ancestor falling in love with the wrong girl, and the baron's uncle and aunt were previously murdered, actually allowing him to inherit. Ruby doesn't have the best reputation, she was sent over from America by her family because of a scandal (she was caught with a married man) and this embittered her in ways. Then when the war started, she volunteered and was put on the Western Front and the death and destruction had her viewing life and priorities differently, along with falling in love with Tamsyn and to only feel betrayed by the decisions Tamsyn then made. So, when the townspeople think the curse has returned, they see Ruby as the possible witch who brought it back.

The woman pointed a finger at me. “She will destroy you. Take everything from you until you have returned to the earth from which you were born. Leave the morvoren-born behind, Pellar. She can bring you nothing but death.”

This has Ruby put in many almost death situations, Ruan has to save her from a stoning, enough dangerous situations that my American butt would have noped out very quickly but Ruby still has emotional ties to Tamsyn and she promised she'd stay to figure out the murder mystery to protect Tamsyn and Tamsyn's son. With Ruan being the Pellar and the most trusted in the area, this has them then working together to figure out who killed the baron. There's credible red-herrings all over the place and the middle did start to drag for me a little bit as one too many avenues started to appear on the way to solving the murder. There's also a little romance with the pushing tension turning into pull between Ruby and Ruan.

“I have a feeling about you. And I can’t say whether I hope or fear that I’m right.”

I read this with the mindset that it was a standalone and I think that wound up affecting my rating, this clearly is setting up to be a series, at least I hope so because the ending leaves numerous threads dangling. The focused on murder mystery here is solved but Ruby and Ruan's connection is obviously not done being explored and the epilogue seems to set-up Ruby to go on another adventure. The mystery was a bit too dragged out with one too many redherrings and their side stories, the edging in of paranormal was just about right with Ruan being a pellar and his Sookie Stackhouse ability, the underneath light romance was dashed enough in to call it a thread, and the main heroine Ruby had enough facets in her personality to draw me in and make me interested in her as a reader. I liked this, but with thinking the story was going to be contained in one book, wanted things to be more snappy. If you're willing to settle in for some meandering and can handle not all being explained, the setting and atmosphere in this was Gothic fun. ( )
  WhiskeyintheJar | Dec 14, 2023 |
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"An atmospheric gothic mystery that beautifully brings the ancient Cornish countryside to life, Armstrong introduces heroine Ruby Vaughn in her Minotaur Books & Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award-winning debut, The Curse of Penryth Hall. After the Great War, American heiress Ruby Vaughn made a life for herself running a rare bookstore alongside her octogenarian employer and house mate in Exeter. She's always avoided dwelling on the past, even before the war, but it always has a way of finding her. When Ruby is forced to deliver a box of books to a folk healer living deep in the Cornish countryside, she is brought back to the one place she swore she'd never return. A more sensible soul would have delivered the package and left without rehashing old wounds. But no one has ever accused Ruby of being sensible. Thus begins her visit to Penryth Hall. A foreboding fortress, Penryth Hall is home to Ruby's once dearest friend, Tamsyn, and her husband, Sir Edward Chenowyth. It's an unsettling place,and after a more unsettling evening, Ruby is eager to depart. But her plans change when Penryth's bells ring for the first time in thirty years. Edward is dead; he met a gruesome end in the orchard, and with his death brings whispers of a returned curse.It also brings Ruan Kivell, the person whose books brought her to Cornwall, the one the locals call a Pellar, the man they believe can break the curse. Ruby doesn't believe in curses-or Pellars-but this is Cornwall and to these villagers the curse is anything but lore, and they believe it will soon claim its next victim: Tamsyn. To protect her friend, Ruby must work alongside the Pellar to find out what really happened in the orchard that night"--

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