Review By Gabrielle

Eerie and hair-raising, The Vanishing at Castle Moreau will suck you into it’s mystery.

Favourite Quote:

“It is the way of Castle Moreau. Even when you are not in it, you are called to return to its walls. To the Moreau-Tremblays. It has always held me captive. The walls breathe inside me, and they are beginning to breathe inside you too. You belong to Moreau. To me.”

Goodreads Synopsis: 

In 1865, orphaned Daisy Francois takes a position as housemaid at a midwestern Wisconsin castle and finds that the reclusive and eccentric Gothic authoress inside hides more than the harrowing tales in her novels. With women disappearing from the area and a legend that seems to parallel these eerie circumstances, Daisy is thrust into a web that may threaten to steal her sanity, if not her life.

In the present day, Cleo Clemmons is hired by the grandson of American aristocratic family the Tremblays to help his matriarchal grandmother face her hoarding in the dilapidated Castle Moreau. But when Cleo uncovers more than just the woman’s stashes of collectibles, a century-old mystery of disappearance, insanity, and the dust of the old castle’s curse threatens to rise again, and this time, leave no one alive to tell its sordid tale.

I enjoyed this spooky tale made up of interwoven stories. The book description says it is a dual timeline but actually there are three stories and points of view. We first meet “The Girl” in 1801. Only a little girl, she is one of the first inhabitants of Castle Moreau. The castle was designed by her mother and built by her father. What should have been a place of pride and refuge for the family, quickly becomes a sad place as the girl’s mother falls ill. There is little joy to be found for this lonely little girl who is haunted at night by the woman with a crooked hand.

Next we meet Daisy. She’s a sweet young thing looking to escape a horrible situation by taking a job at the castle. When she arrives though, it is unclear what she is supposed to be doing exactly. No one seems to need her help. Rumours in town abound about the mysterious disappearances of women that all seem to have a connection to the castle. The lady of the castle doesn’t help any. A famous gothic horror author, she lives up to her reputation. Severe, intimidating and odd. Her grandson Lincoln also lives in the castle but no one in town seems to know he’s there, adding to the mystery of the place. Could all the rumours be true? Are they hiding something? As Daisy works to puzzle it out, I felt a growing apprehension at what she might uncover.

Finally there is Cleo. This storyline is set in modern times. Like Daisy, Cleo is on the run from a terrible situation. A cash under the table job to help the current lady of the castle – Virgie declutter is just what she needs. When she arrives, she discovers the situation will be much worse than she thought. The castle is positively stuffed full. Virgie is quite the hoarder. To make matters worse, Virgie doesn’t want her help and becomes emotional anytime she tries to get rid of anything. Cleo also learns the rumours about the castle in town and becomes increasingly uneasy as she uncovers clues to the disappearance of the women.

Poised in the middle of nowhere Needle Creek, Wisconsin, we get to see Castle Moreau at different times in its history but all are equally spooky. Drafty and immense, Jamie Jo casts the castle almost as a character itself. The writing style Jamie Jo uses is reminiscent of gothic horror novels and she does a really wonderful job of crafting that eerie sense of dread that steadily increases with each flip of the page.

I didn’t realize when I picked it up that this book is categorized as Christian fiction. While not usually my thing, I didn’t find the references overwhelming throughout the book. For those looking for Christian fiction, I’m sure you will appreciate the faith each character had. For me, that aspect didn’t add to or detract from my enjoyment of the story.

Overall, I found this book to be a delightful distraction from my chores on a Sunday afternoon.

Thank you, Austenprose and Baker Publishing Group for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.