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16 June 2022

Book Review: The Missing Girls of Alardyce House by Heather Atkinson *AD Gifted

I was provided with a free ebook of The Missing Girls of Alardyce House by Heather Atkinson ahead of the blog tour.

This book? Just... Wow. It took me completely by surprise and I couldn't have put it down if I'd tried. It's a gripping mystery, with so many twists and turns that you're never quite sure what the truth is.

The Missing Girls of Alardyce House by Heather Atkinson book cover

Edinburgh 1880. When Amy Osbourne’s parents are lost at sea, she is forced to leave her London home and is sent to live with her aunt and uncle at the opposite end of the country.

Alardyce House is depressing and dreary, her aunt haughty and cruel. Amy strikes up a friendship with her cousin Edward but his older brother Henry is just as conceited as his mother, and a mutual loathing develops between him and Amy. 

As her weeks of mourning pass, the realisation begins to dawn on Amy that her aunt has designs on her inheritance and the candidate she favours to be her niece's husband fills Amy with horror. Struggling in this strange, unwelcoming environment, Amy begins to suspect that something isn’t right at Alardyce House. 

There are rumours below stairs of a monster on the loose, local women are being brutally attacked and her cousin Henry is the prime suspect. Alardyce House is full of dark secrets and Amy isn’t sure who she can trust…

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Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy

Content warnings: Misogyny, torture, pregnancy, confinement, death of parents, grief. 

5 Word Review: Family, secrets, loyalty, betrayal, love.

This. Book.

I am struggling to review this book without swearing because it blew my mind.

This book surprised me so much. I thought I knew what I was getting myself in for, and then I picked it up on a Saturday morning and didn't even stop to make a cup of tea. The Missing Girls of Alardyce House was incredible.

Amy goes through so much in this book. She's a pretty messy character, she's complicated and disgraced herself in the past, she's vulnerable and more naïve than she believes. Watching her be manipulated was really something - at every turn no one can be trusted, everyone has their own motivations and secrets. The romances are passionate and steamy, the pace fast from the tension and secrets. I loved the take on the upstairs/downstairs trope, the whole forbidden aspect of one of the relationships really raised the stakes.

I loved that there was the barest thread of the spiritual. It really suited the setting, the time period, and it leant an extra unreliable-ness to the narrative that added to the mystery and how other characters interacted.

This book is dark. It's a dark mystery, and horrible things happen over and over again. Take not of the content warnings. I wasn't expecting it to be as dark when I went in. Honestly, thank goodness for the thread of romance that lightened it up, as unexpected as it was.

And that ending?! I am still shocked.

This was an unforgettable historical mystery and I wouldn't hesitate to read another book by Heather Atkinson. The Missing Girls of Alardyce House was truly outstanding.

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Heather Atkinson is the author of over fifty books – predominantly in the crime fiction genre.  Although Lancashire born and bred she now lives with her family, including twin teenage daughters, on the beautiful west coast of Scotland.  Her gangland series for Boldwood, set on the fictional Gallowburn estate in Glasgow begins with the title Blood Brothers.

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