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THE CRUEL DARK by Bea Northwick


by Bea Northwick

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 2023
ISBN: 9798988473824
Publisher: Northwick Books LLC

Northwick offers a gothic romance about a young woman with a tragic past who discovers more tragedy while working as a researcher at a decades-old estate.

The story picks up with Millie Foxboro’s journey to a place called Willowfield; the estate is located 120 miles outside Boston, where she works in a bookstore. She’s been hired as a research assistant by brooding professor Callum Hughes, a noted scholar of Celtic lore and the wealthy owner of a large perfumery business. Millie learns of the professor’s own difficult past and the ghosts that continue to haunt him and the once-grand Willowfield. As the story goes, when the professor brought his new wife to the sprawling estate, the pressure of the house became overwhelming; as a result, she spiraled into an obsession with evil spirits of Celtic folklore and the unusual flora that adorn the mansion. She eventually threw herself into a nearby ravine and drowned in the river at the bottom, plunging Callum into profound grief. When Millie arrives, the estate has fallen into disrepair and is haunted by many things, including memories that oddly parallel events in her own difficult past. Northwick presents a dark love story that sparkles with elements of gothic horror and more modern romance as Millie explores the dark secrets hidden in Willowfield’s shadows and reveals a few of her own, showing the devastating effects of trauma. Rich and lush natural scenery winds its way around this work like a pervasive vine: “There were pergolas, cherry blossom tunnels, and innumerable bramble arches and clusters of broom waiting patiently to flower. A majestic weeping willow sighed low over a murky pond where a stone kelpie reared half out of the water, searching for a rider.” The prose often reflects the conflict between staid society and the wildness within each of the characters. While some readers may struggle with the slow-burn romance and often quiet tone, many will find this work to be thrilling.

A haunting and atmospheric work that’s likely to captivate genre fans.