THE VANISHING AT CASTLE MOREAU by Jaime Jo Wright
GENRE: Inspirational Dual Timeline Suspense
PUBLISHER: Bethany House
RELEASE DATE: April 4, 2023
A haunting legend. An ominous curse. A search for a secret buried deep within the castle walls.
In 1870, orphaned Daisy François takes a position as housemaid at a Wisconsin castle to escape the horrors of her past life. There she finds a reclusive and eccentric Gothic authoress, who hides tales more harrowing than the ones in her novels. With women disappearing from the area and a legend that seems to parallel these eerie circumstances, Daisy is thrust into a web that threatens to steal her sanity, if not her life.
In the present day, Cleo Clemmons is hired by the grandson of an American aristocratic family to help his grandmother face her hoarding in the dilapidated Castle Moreau. But when Cleo uncovers more than just the woman’s stash of collectibles, a century-old mystery of disappearance, insanity, and the dust of the old castle’s curse threaten to rise again. This time to leave no one alive to tell the sordid tale.
Award-winning author Jaime Jo Wright seamlessly weaves a dual-time tale of two women who must do all they can to seek the light amidst the darkness shrouding Castle Moreau.
“It was said that Castle Moreau was a place that consumed the vulnerable.”
Every single time I pick up a book by Jaime Jo Wright, I am useless for anything else until I’ve finished it. Her writing style, her plot crafting, her characters … all of it just wraps me fully up in the story and refuses to let go. Kinda like Castle Moreau’s reputation, come to think of it.
“Women have been known to visit Castle Moreau…They do not return.”
Yep. That about sums up my experience reading the story, too. But in a less creepy sense lol. I went in and I didn’t come out… at least not until I’d savored the last word.
There are actually 3 timelines at play in The Vanishing at Castle Moreau – 1801, 1870, and present day – and they all fit seamlessly together while telling a deliciously gothic story of missing women, eccentric characters, and a mysterious Wisconsin castle. I loved the parallels between the 1870 timeline and the present day, particularly when it comes to the three main players in each era – the peculiar grandmother, the dashing grandson, and the new young assistant who is running from her own horrors.
Daisy (1870) and Cleo (present day) each hope that Castle Moreau will be the refuge they are seeking, the place where their secrets will be harbored and their monsters won’t find them. And while the castle does provide a surface-level haven from their most immediate concerns, it also raises more questions than it answers and tangles their secrets in with its own until it’s almost impossible to separate them. Ora (1870) and Virgie (present day) are unique grandmothers, to be sure. One is infamous for her gothic horror novels (and the personality to match), the other infamous in surname only but inexplicably bound to this castle. A castle she has filled to the brim with her hoarded ‘treasures’. And then there are the grandsons – Lincoln (1870) and Deacon (present day) who have battled their own demons and now must help Daisy and Cleo, respectively, vanquish theirs.
These characters – and Castle Moreau, too – are so wonderfully complex, and I was hanging on every word as Wright masterfully unpacks their layers, taking that knotted tangle of secrets and weaving it into a beautiful tapestry. A work of art in the form of a cloaked woman with a crooked hand – the one common character that unites all three timelines more than any of their other similarities. I have to admit that this Phantom Woman had me stumped for the majority of the book. One thing I know – and love – about Jaime Jo Wright’s books is how she incorporates the paranormal without compromising the truth of God’s Word. Everything in her stories that seems unexplainable will always eventually have an explanation. And yet… the same character spanning over 200 years?? What other explanation could there be? Needless to say, I could not wait to see where Wright took this plot thread, and I. loved. every. minute of it.
Bottom Line: The Vanishing at Castle Moreau is another deliciously atmospheric masterpiece from Jaime Jo Wright – in fact, I think it’s her best yet. (I have a sneaking suspicion that I say about that each one but it’s always true!) Three timelines, bumps in the night, doorknobs rattling, mysterious screams, women missing, a gothic horror novelist, a hoarding grandmother … and a phantom woman with a crooked hand that ties them all together. Wright takes all of these elements – along with expertly layered characters – and not only crafts a story that will keep you spellbound but also carefully explores the depths of grief, fear, and love while pointing readers to the One who is truly a Refuge. My words don’t do it justice – put this on your must-read list without delay!
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 5 stars / absolutely stunning
KissingBook Level: 3 / may forget to breathe on occasion (also…Deacon ♥)
Jaime Jo Wright is the author of six novels, including Christy Award winner The House on Foster Hill and Carol Award winner The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond. She’s also the Publishers Weekly and ECPA bestselling author of two novellas. Jaime lives in Wisconsin with her cat named Foo; her husband, Cap’n Hook; and their littles, Peter Pan and CoCo.
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