Let me preface this review by saying that historical fiction usually isn't my cup of tea.
But this book is absolutely enchanting, from start to finish. I began page one with the intention of reading a few pages then stopping to do other things. Five pages became ten, and ten became 100. I could not put it down. What sets this book apart from others is that it seamlessly combines historical and paranormal elements, and I'm LIVING for it. It is wonderfully gothic, in the same vein as Jane Eyre. Not to mention that the characters themselves, specifically Hetty and Lucy, are so relatable and well-developed.
What begins as a simple novel about a museum curator trying to protect her taxidermy collection becomes a slow descent into mystery and madness. The monsters are never what they seem, the picture not complete until the very end. I was on the edge of my seat for a good majority of the novel, anxiously anticipating what would happen next. There was not a moment where I didn't feel like I was wandering through the dark, eerie Lockwood halls alongside Hetty or drifting through Lucy's haunted memories. It was such a visceral experience that I wholly lost myself within the pages and only resurfaced at brief intervals throughout the day. I can't think of the last time a book has been able to hold my attention so completely.
This book is truly an experience, and I'm so grateful to have received an ARC. If I hadn't, I might have missed out on this literary perfection.