Published  August 20, 2024 by HarperCollins Publishers T he Edgar Award–winning author of A Dreadful Splendor blends mystery and spooky thri...

Book Review || The Third Wife of Faraday House by B.R. Myers

Published August 20, 2024 by HarperCollins Publishers

The Edgar Award–winning author of A Dreadful Splendor blends mystery and spooky thrills with friendship and romance in this delicious love letter to Gothic fiction, featuring two brides who must band together to unravel the ghostly secrets at the heart of a crumbling island manor.

'Til death do us part...

November 1816: Restless but naïve Emeline Fitzpatrick is desperate to escape her stifling life in foggy Halifax. Her guardian is lining up repugnant suitors, but Emeline has her eyes set on a handsome lieutenant in the British navy. She just needs to persuade him to propose, or her one chance at happiness will be gone forever.

But when Emeline’s hopes end in scandal, she finds herself with only one suitor left: the wealthy and enigmatic Captain Graves. Having already lost two wives to tragic circumstances, the unfortunate widower is seeking a new companion in his cloistered seaside manor, Faraday House. Or at least that is what Emeline had been told, because when she arrives, she is horrified to discover that the second Mrs. Graves, Georgina, has not yet died.

Emeline is only certain of two things: something ghastly is afoot at Faraday House, and no one is going to save her. She will have to rely on her own courage, her burgeoning bond with the ill but strong-willed Georgina, and the aid of a handsome reverend with a mysterious past to unravel the secrets at the heart of the manor and forge her own destiny.

In classic gothic style, The Third Wife of Faraday House was a slow-burn. Sprinkled with mystery and spooky scenes, it was hard to put down once it got started. 

Emeline has recently discovered that her guardians are looking for "appropriate" suitors for her. They do have her best interests at heart for a well-cared-for life. Emeline, however, has something else in mind; the handsome naval officer Frederick Fletcher. If only he would follow through on his proposal and whisk her away to Bermuda as promised. Unfortunately, after being caught together, her only choice is to marry Captain Graves far away from the scandal. Emeline arrives at Faraday house to marry the Captain only to find out that the Captain's second wife, Georgina, isn't dead yet! 

The setting is perfect for a gothic novel. Big stone house on an island, whose ocean road is only accessible during low tide. There's a widow walk, a dusty tower room, secret rooms, ghostly music, and blood dripping from the ceiling. It's creepy without needing to be gory. There's a feeling of constant danger, starting from the moment Emeline arrives on the island to be dumped by a broken carriage and left by herself while the driver goes onward to Faraday House. That feeling continues with Emeline's UNwelcome experience when finally making it to the house and throughout the novel. There's suspicion built into every moment. 
If I have one complaint, Emeline is a difficult character to like. She's very naive and her constant pining for the lieutenant is annoying. If only he would sweep in and rescue her. If only she could get a letter to him telling him how awful it is and to hurry up already! In her mind, all she does is babble to look pretty and proper.  Of course, it's in Emeline's best interests to keep Georgina alive, delay the marriage, and give Frederick time to come save her. As time went on and the relationship between Emeline and Georgina developed, she did grow on me.

As with the best gothic mysteries, little hints are given to the reader throughout the story. While you think you know immediately what is happening, there's a lot of redirection. Who you thought was the villain two chapters ago, suddenly seems to not be. There's not a single character that your opinion of will stay the same throughout.  It's such a twisty little plotline!

The Third Wife of Faraday House is a mystery, ghost story, and romance all rolled into one that would appeal to readers of multiple genres. It's a bit light for most horror readers and Regency romance readers, but I think it contains enough elements of each to be discoverable for most mainstream readers.