I was able to read the first couple of chapters of The Animals at Lockwood Manor back at the end of 2019 and I was highly looking forward this book. Set in World War II London, Hetty has newly been appointed as a curator of the London Museum. To keep the priceless animals of the museum safe she is tasked with seeing the safe passage and keeping of the Mammal collection. As was the trend with many British children during the War, the museum’s many collection are being shipped around the country to countryside manors where they will hopefully avoid damage. Hetty and her precious cargo are set to be hosted by Lockwood Manor, which with all it’s empty rooms houses secrets so deep, it’s rumored to be cursed. When items of the mammal collection begin to go missing and are moved, Hetty sets out to unearth what these secrets could possibly be.
Told in alternative perspectives, we follow both Hetty and her new found friend Lucy Lockwood as they attempt to uncover the secrets of Lockwood Manor.
I was very excited to get an advanced copy of this book. I felt that it was right up my alley, with a mixture of historical fiction, mystery, and perhaps even a little bit of the supernatural. I have to say that while I flew through the first half of the book, the second half left me wanted and a little bored. I regularly found myself skipping sentences just to get to the end of the book. The overall plot of the book is great but it ended up dragging a bit for me towards the end.
I found Healy’s writing to be extremely descriptive and beautifully worded but being a plot driven reader the storyline ultimately didn’t deliver for me. I also thought there was a lot going on and the implied ‘ghosts’ that haunted the manor seemed like a much better plot than what came to be. The ending with Major Lockwood being a predator on young women and his knack for convincing his wife that she was ultimately ‘crazy’ seemed rushed and overused. We also never fully learn why his wife is haunted by a ‘Women in White’ or get any additional information around her besides she came from knowing she is not from London. And while Major Lockwood concocted the murder of his wife and mother, we never learn why. These loose ends are overlooked by his predatorial past. While not overlooked, Healy alludes to Lucy also being a victim of her father’s impulses but once again we never gain clarification into this.
I really wanted to like this book but it just did not fully delivery what I wanted. I’m unsatisfied on how Healy wrapped everything up and think that while the book dragged, the ended was rushed. Only ★★★ for me on this one.