Some secrets are unspoken. Others are unspeakable . . .
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?
Part love story, part mystery, The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey is a gripping and atmospheric tale of family madness, long-buried secrets and hidden desires.
This book is exactly as described in the blurb above. It ticked a lot of boxes for me. Historical fiction of an old country manor, gossipy servants type with ghosts and all manner of mysterious goings on.
Hetty Cartwright as a newly promoted Director of the National History Museum’s mammal collection is a forthright young woman who doesn’t suffer fools lightly and is passionate about the stuffed species of mammals that are in her care. When they are relocated from London to the home of Lord Lockwood multiple problems occur. Missing exhibits, vandalism and also infestations of creatures who find homes inside the dead creatures slowly destroying them from within. The care and maintenance of her charges become a full time all hours job of trying to protect them.
The newly widowed Lord Lockwood himself becomes a complete thorn in Hettie’s side. Although he enjoys the cachet of having a museum located to his home, albeit to avoid having evacuees based there, he’s not making her job any easier by being obstructive and using the exhibits for his own ends such as using them as props in lavish dinner parties with rowdy destructive guests.
Late nights, things that go bump in the night, exhibits that mysteriously rearrange themselves during at night. Rumours and sightings of ghosts.
Deliciously dark and ideal reading for autumn nights.
I predict this book is going to be very popular in 2020. Not least because of the beautiful cover. I intend to buy several copies!
With thanks to the publisher for my copy via NetGalley
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jane Healey studied English Literature at Warwick University. She has been shortlisted for the Bristol Short Story Prize 2013, the Costa Short Story Award 2014, the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2016 and the Penguin Random House WriteNow mentoring programme 2017. The Animals at Lockwood Manor is her first novel. …