THE ANIMALS AT LOCKWOOD MANOR
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: Historical
REPRESENTATION: F/F romance
TRIGGER WARNING: ANIMAL DEATH [MENTIONED]
A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.
Taxidermy? In my reading? And it didn’t freak me out? Colour me surprised and intrigued.
Okay so, upfront, I loved The Animals at Lockwood Manor. It’s got a really mysterious Gothic Jane Eyre vibe, but set during WW2 and with a sapphic relationship.
Jane Healey is a new-to-me author but I was blown away by her writing style. The pacing is slow and drawn-out (so something to watch out for if that’s not your thing) which gradually builds up all the simmering tension that’s brewing just under the surface.
Hetty is an amazing lead character. She’s a woman in the 1940s, put in charge of protecting the Natural History Museums entire mammal collection, all on her own, during the Blitz. Sure, she has Lord Lockwood and his staff for support, but are they really more of a help or a hindrance? The drive, stubbornness and curiosity it would have taken for a woman to find herself in such a position coincidentally makes her the perfect protagonist to nose her way around Lockwood’s rooms and probe into the family secrets. It’s a lovely dove-tailing of plot and character, so that I was completely on-board with her prying about.
Lucy is the cinnamon roll you’ll want to protect and the relationship between the two women is beautifully, delicately played out and developed.
Lord Lockwood… What can I say? He’s such a good bad guy. Even when he’s being nice, he’s smug and condescending and looking out for himself. Almost every time Hetty had to interact with him, or plead for him to actually help her the way he’s supposed to, I felt my fists clench in utter frustration. In terms of the plot, maybe the ‘surprise’ isn’t the most surprising ever, but it’s the journey and the getting there that counts with this one.
As with a lot of books I really love…. Reviews are hard. We know this. But just take my fangirl squealing over this one for granted, okay? I really recommend.
Because: historical and queer ladies, I was concerned. There’s a HEA. Don’t worry.
Thirty-year-old Hetty Cartwright is tasked with the evacuation and safekeeping of the natural history museum’s collection of mammals. Once she and her exhibits arrive at Lockwood Manor, however, where they are to stay for the duration of the war, Hetty soon realizes that she’s taken on more than she’d bargained for.
Protecting her charges from the irascible Lord Lockwood and resentful servants is work enough, but when some of the animals go missing, and worse, Hetty begins to suspect someone – or something – is stalking her through the darkened corridors of the house.
As the disasters mount, Hetty finds herself falling under the spell of Lucy, Lord Lockwood’s beautiful but clearly haunted daughter. But why is Lucy so traumatized? Does she know something she’s not telling? And is there any truth to local rumours of ghosts and curses?
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