Review: Miramont’s Ghost by Elizabeth Hall + Giveaway

miramont's ghost by elizabeth hallFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genre: gothic mystery, historical fiction
Length: 336 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Date Released: February 1, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Miramont Castle, built in 1897 and mysteriously abandoned three years later, is home to many secrets. Only one person knows the truth: Adrienne Beauvier, granddaughter of the Comte de Challembelles and cousin to the man who built the castle.

Clairvoyant from the time she could talk, Adrienne’s visions show her the secrets of those around her. When her visions begin to reveal dark mysteries of her own aristocratic French family, Adrienne is confronted by her formidable Aunt Marie, who is determined to keep the young woman silent at any cost. Marie wrenches Adrienne from her home in France and takes her to America, to Miramont Castle, where she keeps the girl isolated and imprisoned. Surrounded by eerie premonitions, Adrienne is locked in a life-or-death struggle to learn the truth and escape her torment.

Reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, this hauntingly atmospheric tale is inspired by historical research into the real-life Miramont Castle in Manitou Springs, Colorado.

My Review:

This is a compelling story, in an insidious, creepy, scary sort of way. I finished at 3 am with the shivers, so be warned.

I will say that Adrienne’s story gets under your skin. Well, at least my skin. On the one hand, I felt incredibly sorry for her. Her brief and heartbreaking life consists of one loss after another. And even though she is clairvoyant, and can see what is coming before it happens, she isn’t able to prevent a single thing that is done to her.

Yes, everything that happens is done to her, not by her. By the end, the only agency she has in her life is the ability and desire to end it. This is a very tragic story, but much more in the creepy than the weepy vein.

Adrienne starts out the story as a child in a noble family in rural France in the late 1800s. In her small family, her grandfather adores her, her mother neglects her, and her aunt hates her with a passion beyond reason.

Adrienne has visions. She sees the past, the far away present, and sometimes the future. None of it does her any good. Her grandmother had the same sight, and it caused her nothing but trouble. Even worse, it caused the servants and the townspeople to gossip and shun her.

Adrienne starts seeing activities in the village that she can’t possibly have witnessed, and it all goes downhill. Her only protectors are her grandfather and her governess. Time takes away her beloved grandfather, and her aunt’s machinations remove her governess.

It’s impossible to overemphasize how much her aunt hates her. When Adrienne is a young woman, she falls in love. Aunt Marie ensures that her beloved is sent to South America, and then that her governess is removed. As a finaly blow, Marie carries her off to Colorado with her mother’s neglectful consent. As soon as they arrive in New York, Marie sends a message back home that Adrienne died at sea.

It is only then that Adrienne’s nightmare really begins.

Escape Rating B: Once I got involved with Adrienne’s story, I found this thing impossible to put down. At the same time, I wanted to shake Adrienne until she stopped being so damn passive and took some charge of her own life.

Considering the time and the circumstance, Adrienne’s complete passivity to her fate was probably historically accurate. She was an upper-class young woman of 16 or 17, with an education in the arts and no practical knowledge whatsoever. Her aunt dragged her off to a country where she did not speak the language and made sure she had no money. She was also kept a virtual prisoner.

Why? That’s a good question. It is possible that her aunt silenced and imprisoned her to prevent her from speaking out about her cousin Julien’s (Marie’s son) sexual abuse of her when she was a child. It’s possible that it was punishment for making the family she subject of gossip yet again, as she repeated her grandmother’s talent for true visions.

As her cousin Julien has become a Catholic priest, the accusation of child molestation would be particularly problematic, especially since the accusation has been repeated in parishes that he has served in North America. While a young woman accusing a pillar of the community of sexual abuse that happened 5 or 6 years previously might not be believed, as fuel added to a current fire, it would have caused a lot more heat to be aimed at the priest.

But we don’t actually know for certain. The speech that the villain makes near the end, explaining it all to the poor victim may be melodramatic but does serve to wrap things up for the audience. We don’t get that here. We only see what Adrienne sees, and only know what she knows. Unfortunately for the audience, the one thing that Marie is excellent at is keeping her thoughts and feelings to herself, even as she commits acts that are increasingly evil.

Miramont Castle
Miramont Castle

The author has woven her ghost story into the cracks in the history of a real place, Miramont Castle near Colorado Springs. Jean Baptiste Francolon built the castle, and was forced out of town to escape a lynch mob. He was even poisoned with his own chalice while serving Mass.

In this story, the author tells the history of the ghost who haunts the castle. Or rather, she lets the ghost tell her own story as she decides whether, a century after the events that ended her life, she has finally achieved enough detachment to let go.

After everything that happened to her, I’m not sure a single century would be enough!


Elizabeth and Lake Union Publishing are giving away one copy of Miramont’s Ghost to one lucky U.S. or Canadian winner.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post is part of a TLC book tour. Click on the logo for more reviews.
***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: The Gravedigger’s Brawl by Abigail Roux

Format read:ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: Trade paperback, ebook
Genre: Horror, Mystery/Suspense
Length: 256 pages
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Date Released: October 15, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Dr. Wyatt Case is never happier than when he’s walking the halls of his history museum. Playing wingman for his best friend at Gravedigger’s Tavern throws him way out of his comfort zone, but not as much as the eccentric man behind the bar, Ash Lucroix.

Ash is everything Wyatt doesn’t understand: exuberant, quirky, and elbow deep in a Gaslight lifestyle that weaves history into everyday life. He coordinates his suspenders with his tongue rings. Within hours, Wyatt and Ash are hooked.

But strange things are afoot at Gravedigger’s, and after a knock to the head, Ash starts seeing things that can’t be explained by old appliances or faulty wiring. Soon everyone at Gravedigger’s is wondering if they’re seeing ghosts, or just going crazy. The answer to that question could end more than just Wyatt and Ash’s fragile relationship—it might also end their lives.

The Gravedigger’s Brawl is a massive Halloween bash that takes place in Gravedigger’s Tavern. Where is that, you might ask? The historic district in downtown Richmond, Virginia.

So we have an eerily named bar in a historic preservation district on the spookiest night of the year. And did I mention that everyone who works in the bar has started seeing ghosts? That’s right, ghosts. Poltergeists aren’t just thumping the walls, they have started screwing with the electrical wiring. That’s a disaster waiting to happen.

Gravedigger’s Tavern doesn’t just have a weird name, it has some bad stuff in its history. It might be linked to the LaLaurie family in antebellum New Orleans. They were so evil, even their fellow slaveholders turned them in for their human experiments.

Richmond had its own version of the LaLauries, the Dubois family. It looks like they owned the land that Gravedigger’s sits on. One of the Dubois’ might still haunt the place, along with all of his victims.

The Gravedigger’s Brawl is a terrific, in the old-fashioned sense of the word, as in terrifying, ghost story. Spirits do haunt Gravedigger’s, and one man, Ash Lucroix, acquires the ability to see them, after a head injury.

Unfortunately for Ash, he’s not paranoid. One of them really is out to get him.

So is Wyatt Case, but that’s in a good way. The director of the historical society, although he might have been out of the closet for a long time, has an incredibly difficult time getting out of his shell. His academic reserve is a different problem all-together.

Opposites do attract. The academic introvert and the flair-expert, bartending extrovert with the gaslight aesthetic do take hesitant steps toward a relationship.

Meanwhile there are the ghosts. As more mysterious thumps and sparks manifest in the tavern, Wyatt starts researching the history of Gravedigger’s. (He’s a historian, it’s what he does). He finds paydirt. Or gravedirt. Amidst the urban legends, ghost tours and fanciful tales, he finds the Dubois family, and their misbegotten scion Vincent.

Vincent conducted human experiments on the land that is now Gravedigger’s. And every couple of decades since Vincent’s death, someone connected with that property has died, on the premises, of suicide. All under very mysterious circumstances.

And they’ve all looked very much like Ash Lucroix. So did Vincent Dubois. And it’s starting to seem a lot like Ash is next. Unless the bar burns down first.

Escape Rating A-: And a very chilling story this one is. The chills and thrills in this story come from the ghosts. The romance, although it exists, takes a back-seat to the ghost story.

I found the secondary story about saving Wyatt’s job at the Museum, and museum politics in general, to be hilarious and all-too-familiar. All non-profit institutions have some similarities. Wyatt’s co-worker Nash, especially his love of true-but-obscure facts, is laugh-out-loud funny.

This was a perfect Halloween read. It’s chilling and scary and terrifying. There are ghosts, and a fire, and a fight in the museum (in costume!). And in the end, what’s important gets saved.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.