Cover Image: The Garden of Bewitchment

The Garden of Bewitchment

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I really enjoyed this psychological  thriller! The Garden of Bewitchment was amazingly engrossing. This story is about twin sisters and a game that comes between them. A bit of ghostly & demon fun time. The scenes & settings were done so well.. Catherine Cavendish is a new to me author, and I will certainly be picking up more from her.
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Twin sisters move to a cottage on the Yorkshire Moors but then a strange “toy” turns up - best to leave it well alone!  I liked the story very much and the cover was great.  What completely ruined it for me was that it shrieked of the way people speak today, so much so that it might just as well have been, losing all the atmosphere in the process.  The other thing which jarred was using the American way of spelling.  Such a shame as it could have been a 5 star book.
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It’s the late 1800s, the countryside moors and the howling wind. The perfect horror settings right? Oh! Don’t forget the creepy house where you start making friends with a person who is supposed to be long dead. 
Yes. An absolutely riveting tale of horror. Catherine Cavendish has extracted a lot of juice from the already saturated tropes of classical horror. 
But having read a lot of horror novels and stories, I couldn’t help but get a hint of what’s actually going on; which however was compensated well towards the ending.
The story kind of becomes confusing at times. Well it had to, as the story also deals with the horrors hidden in the deepest trenches of the human mind. 
Overall, it was a perfect read during these quarantined times, as it was not a dragging read.
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As an undergraduate English major, I was introduced to many books that I otherwise would not have read. Even if I didn't really appreciate reading them at the time, the same way kids don't always appreciate the green vegetables they were forced to consume, I find that I am still a better writer and better librarian for it. This is especially true upon discovering Gothic classics like Wuthering Heights or Wieland, Or, The Transformation, or the expanded universe of Poe's writings beyond "The Tell-Tale Heart." I discovered these stories and still remember them fondly. In reading Catherine Cavendish's The Garden of Bewitchment, it was like a trip back to when I first discovered these stories and what made them special.
The story is set up like many Gothic page-turners: in 1893, two sisters Claire and Evelyn Wainwright have moved to a quiet cottage on the English countryside, but a mysterious game is waiting for them, a magical game called the Garden of Bewitchment. The game allows you to make your own garden, complete with house and with little cardboard people inside, but there are also things waiting for Claire and Evelyn in the house, and in the garden. What is waiting for them wants the sisters to stay awhile, possibly forever.
More fun than downright terrifying, this book often feels like a kitchen sink of Gothic and horror conventions, everything from mysterious but genial stranger Matthew Dixon to Bramwell Bronte, a specter who is also Claire's paramour, but these differing elements, from fantastical board games to serpentine Old World gods, come together in a fun and lively way. Even the sisters' love of Bronte's literature and their own writing endeavors show that Cavendish is well-versed in Gothic horror and doesn't mind addressing it in an almost meta way. Fans of classic stories from Poe, Hawthorne, Lovecraft, and Bronte, whether or not they discovered these writers in a college-level English course, will find something to love in this garden, which Catherine Cavendish has planted with an evident love for Gothic literature.
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This was my first Catherine Cavendish book. I love a good victorian gothic horror novel and this didn’t disappoint. I will be picking up more books by the author.
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This a slow-burn suspense/horror novel in the vein of Victorian Gothic. This is a genre of fiction that I absolutely love, and I'd say Cavendish did a pretty decent job with it. The eerie atmosphere and setting is fantastic, and the creeping dread the sisters felt really did resonate. Admittedly, the ending felt a bit rushed after the slow pace for most of the story. But overall this was a solid genre story and I'd be very interested in reading whatever this author does next.
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4 Stars!

I had read several books by Catherine Cavendish before so I was happy to get a copy of The Garden of Bewitchment from Flame Tree Press.  I had enjoyed her previous novels and the Gothic vibe mixed with strong horror that each had held in its pages so was eager to dive into this new book looking for a good, old-fashioned scare. 
 
Evelyn and Claire had always loved the moors and always felt out of place in the small town they had lived in their entire lives.  As two single sisters living together, the world in 1893 was not ready for them to remain together and single for their entire lives.  They decided to move to a house on the moors in Yorkshire away from the prying eyes of the town.  It was to be a peaceful existence.  Instead, when a strange toy garden appears in their new home, their new life quickly turned into a nightmare. 
 
Evelyn quickly becomes friends with their handsome neighbor, Matthew Dixon, but Claire is suspicious of the man who seems to hold many secrets.  Then the toy garden comes to life and things begin to quickly spin out of control.  The two women seem to be controlled more and more by the game and the ghosts within and begin to wonder if Matthew may be the mastermind behind all of their troubles.  Once they have entered the garden of bewitchment, though, they may never be able to find their way out. 
 
I was prepared for a strong atmosphere and a gothic horror novel when I started The Garden of Bewitchment and that is exactly what Catherine Cavendish delivered.  From the first page, I was transported back into England in 1893 and felt completely immersed in the novel.  The setup was strong and Cavendish makes the characters and the world seem real from the outset.  If anything, there may have been a little too much realism to the beginning of the novel as it takes a little time to get into the heart of the story but fans of this type of story will enjoy this.  Once the sisters move to their new house, however, the story begins to develop quickly and in a very strange way. 
 
The toy garden is a strange way to introduce the supernatural into the story by the idea of the toy being a gateway to a much darker dimension works in this novel.  It is more than a little strange at times and once the ghosts begin to have their way with the sisters it just gets more bizarre and intense as the story draws toward its climax.  I was at times confused and terrified but I was never bored with the second half of the tale.  This is a period work of fiction but it also a strong horror novel that borders on the bizarre at times.  Cavendish handles all of this with a deft hand and crafts a unique and haunting tale. 
 
I would like to thank Flame Tree Press and NetGalley for this review copy.  The Garden of Bewitchment is available now.
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Claire and Evelyn have moved to a smaller place — a cottage to live after their father dies.  They are wealthy though not married.  However two sisters who live alone is not consider normal.  Instead of living in the city, they will live in the country.  Claire and Evelyn are twins.  They are aspiring to become authors.  Claire and Evelyn have always been fond of the Brontë authors.  Claire believes herself in love with Branwell Brontë.  Evelyn and Claire argue about Branwell being an imaginary person as he has been dead.  Evelyn goes for walks on the moors behind them where she meets a temporary neighbor, Matthew who tells about a toy he had as a child.  The toy was called “the garden of bewitchment.”  He explains how the toy had a miniature house, garden and more.  He also said it had something evil in it.  How can their be evil in a toy?  When this toy mysteriously appears in the house, Claire becomes infatuated with it.  She tells Evelyn she finds herself in the garden of the toy.  Evelyn cannot believe it.  As strange things continue to happen to them, Evelyn finds herself in fear of he life and wondering if she is losing her sanity.  Is she?

A gothic novel that is suspenseful , mysterious and creepy.  I enjoyed the novel as I love the mystery of the toy.  I found the ending of the novel not to be what I expected.  It’s a great ending but surprised me.
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I enjoyed this period piece of twin sisters and the children game that comes between them. Author Catherine Cavendish is new to me, and I will certainly give her another go, since I found THE GARDEN OF BEWITCHMENT to be engrossing. I've never been too keen on gothic-like horror before but I certainly got caught up quick with this one. Blame this on Cavendish tight narrative or her building of the things to come but if every gothic novel were like this one, here, I certainly would have become a fan earlier. Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for this cool ARC.
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Evelyn and Claire are twin sisters.  They feel they no longer belong in Yorkshire. Their parents are deceased and before dying, their father sold the family business which employed much of the town.  While this left Evelyn and Claire financially set, many lost their jobs.  Evelyn and Claire are looking for a new start and since they are budding writers who are obsessed to different degrees with all things Bronte, they move to a small cottage on the Moors.  Once their, Evelyn and Claire stumble upon a game, The Garden of Bewitchment, that shouldn't exist but does.  The neighbor, Matthew, also has had experiences with this game and even though they are leery of him, Evelyn and Claire end up seeking his help.

I really enjoyed this tale and to be honest, it would be a great read for a cold winter's night huddled in a blanket with a glass of bourbon (or coffee, but I'm in the mood for bourbon).  While not exactly action-packed, Cavendish does a great job with scenes and setting and at times I actually felt like I was on the Moors with Evelyn and Claire.  I enjoyed their sisterly bond to a point, but can't really elaborate any more for risk of spoiling things.  I also kind of figured out some of the twists early on, but that didn't damper my reading enjoyment.  My only real issue with it was that I wish it had been  a tad more scarier.  That being said, I'm not easy to scare so if you are looking for a mild horror read, this is definitely the ticket. 

While this book is classified as horror I think it might better be described as a slow-burn suspense novel.  However, it also very much feels like a Gothic horror tale.  So if any of these descriptors intrigue you, then you might want to pick this one up.  I will most certainly be on the lookout for more titles from this author.
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I was attracted by the plot description and requested this E-Arc from Netgalley. I do enjoy Victorian set, Gothic toned supernatural stories with the added bonus this time of it being set where I live in West Yorkshire and the added lure of the 'strange toy garden' in a box which sounded exciting. Twin sisters, Evelyn and Claire, move to a cottage near the moors, where Evelyn befriends their neighbour, Matthew Dixon but strange events begin to mount up- the cottage might be haunted, Claire is chatting to the ghost of Branwell Bronte, a strange toy garden in a box turns up, which has magical powers which transforms the spinster sisters' day to day lives with its power and beauty but it contains evil too. All of this was very promising, but the different elements didn't come together for me as a whole. The descriptive sections with the garden felt shoehorned in at times, whereas the sisters' relationship seemed repetitive, with historical facts about the period and the Brontes pushed into the narrative. Occasionally too the dialogue seemed to tilt towards 2020 more than 1893-some phrases felt rather modern to the ear. The publishers (Flame Tree Press) have opted for the American style spelling of such words as neighbors, which didn't gel with the Yorkshire setting to my eye. I kept mentally correcting the spelling. There is a major plot twist which I won't reveal which Catherine Cavendish has to spin through the novel and shedoes that well, I did however guess it early on. However it is rather ingenious. The last part of the book felt rushed and there was more 'tell than show' to explain all the plot details and like other reviewers here it got a bit confusing, as well as Evelyn having an about face in her attitude to Matthew.
Overall sadly, this one didn't click for me. It had some scary moments and interesting sections and I did love the idea of the titular Garden.
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~Available Now~

‘In 1893, Evelyn and Claire leave their home in a Yorkshire town for life in a rural retreat on their beloved moors. But when a strange toy garden mysteriously appears, a chain of increasingly terrifying events is unleashed.’

I hate not finishing a book, especially when I have gotten three-quarters of the way into it, and though I found it difficult at times to stay connected with the characters and their circumstances in THE GARDEN OF BEWITCHMENT, I am really glad I read this book until the end; which I loved!

The majority of the book felt, to me, very anticlimactic, at least until I reached the ninety percent mark. As the reader, you are presented with several intense moments throughout, only for that tension to dispel when the characters appear to be unfazed by what’s happening to them by way of a scene change into the next day or going to bed, for example.

Also, I was a bit surprised that characters who experience the Supernatural for themselves have difficulty fathoming another character witnessing something Paranormal, to the point of thinking, said character might be losing their mind.

The premise behind the story I like, it’s unique and brings a tiny bit (pun not intended) of a Through The Looking-Glass feel to it with a dark twinge of horror, the characters, and by extension the reader, question what’s real and what’s not.

I loved the ending, which was intense, a twist in the narrative I had expected, but thankfully I was a bit off regarding how the story plays out, and that Epilogue - Loved it!

Just because this book didn’t completely resonate with me doesn’t mean other readers won’t feel differently. If the synopsis sparks your interest as it did mine, then give THE GARDEN OF BEWITCHMENT a chance, you may be surprised what you find lurking within.

Next up from Catherine Cavendish, her novel THE HAUNTING OF HENDERSON CLOSE, which admittedly has been on my to-be-read list after purchasing it last year, and I for one, can’t wait to read it!

Thank you, NetGalley and Flame Tree Press, for loaning me an advance copy of THE GARDEN OF BEWITCHMENT in exchange for an honest review.
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- After the death of their father, Claire and Evelyn decide to live in the country where it’s nice and quite. This little country side town also ties in with the brontë family and was where wuthering heights was inspired. Claire is obsessed with the dead Branwell Brontë brother. Claire is convinced she sees him and he visits her in person. Evelyn can’t convince her sister otherwise about Branwell. Evelyn takes long walks in the moors by their house and meets a fine young man named Mathew.  On one of Evelyn and Mathew’s walks, he tells her about this toy he saw when he was a kid thats was called “the garden of bewitchment”. Which happens to appear in Claire and Evelyn’s cottage soon after. They are connected somehow and must figure out how. This book had a great start but becomes very slow and rambling towards the middle. The end picked back up. This book was like some sort of weird dark Alice in wonderland spiraling down the rabbit hole. 3/5 🌟 review! Happy pub day 
 

The review is post and tagged on Twitter, Instagram, goodreads, and amazon.
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This was my first experience reading Catherine Cavendish. I really enjoy the historical fiction genre and the timeframe and setting for this book were right up my alley.

The story takes place in 1893 close to Yorkshire. We follow two identical twin sisters, Evelyn and Claire, as the move from the city to a small cottage out on the moors. 

Once settled into the cottage strange things being to occur. Claire says that she has conversations with someone who has long since been dead. Evelyn gets an eerie since that she has been to the cottage before and feels as if she recognizes some of the neighbors but isn't sure why. 

Once an odd toy known as the Garden of Bewitchment seems to manifest within the cottage the odd and bizarre really start to escalate. 

Catherine does a great job of keeping the readers in the dark about what is really going on. Are the two sisters really seeing and experiencing these things, are the hallucinating, are they being haunted? We slowly learn that this innocent children's toy is more sinister than it seems.

I thoroughly enjoyed Catherine's writing. The characters are well developed and the setting is very atmospheric and claustrophobic at times. The lore she has created for the Garden of Bewitchment was great.

There is a revelation near the end of the book that I was able to predict somewhat early on that lessened the impact of the ending some for me. I feel like there were a few too many nods throughout pointing towards this and a little more subtly could have made the ending more shocking.

There was also a bit of a pacing issue. We slowly learn bits and pieces about what is truly going on throughout the book but at the end with get quite a lot of information at once that could have been spread out more evenly along the story. 

Overall I enjoyed my time within the garden. The story was intriguing and a nice spin on the classic haunted house tale. If you are into horror and enjoy a more historical setting then I would recommend this to you.
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Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for a copy of this book to review. What an wonderful pleasant surprise !

The Garden of Bewitchment
by Catherine Cavendish

Emily Bronte has some serious competition in Catherine Cavendish !!!!
THIS IS A WONDERFUL NOVEL and so difficult to put down. From page 1 it was totally engrossing and I cannot say enough great things about the story. Quick paced Gothic mystery set in the spooky moors with many references to the Bronte sisters and their classic novels which, this book is sure to become. 

The story revolves around two eccentric sisters who live together and are collaborating on a fantasy novel. To avoid the company of other people they move to a new and more secluded cottage in the countryside. One of the sisters befriends a neighbor who tells her a fantastic and frightening story which he claims to be true. The Garden of Bewitchment was supposedly a child's board game that he found in the attic of his uncle's home when he was a young boy. This "game" had some terrifying qualities and truly had him rattled, thus also frightening his new friend who has quite an imagination of her own. One sister shares the Garden of Bewitchment story with the other and both try to figure out what exactly is going on since the Garden seems to be appearing in their home now, along with some other unusual paranormal events.

As the story progresses, it is difficult to figure out what is real and what is not. The reader knows the sister's are a bit off, but are they insane? What about this neighbor, is he real and his story about a garden that comes to life? There are other odd characters along the way, all of which keep the reader guessing.

You know you've read a great book when you are still thinking about it three days later ! The thing I can't seem to figure out is the ending. I went back and read the last few chapters twice, feeling that I had missed something really important. However, as I believe it was meant to be, I am still confused about what was real and what was from the mind of a lunatic. Loved it !

Strongly recommend. 5 stars !!!
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I believe author Catherine Cavendish may have lived a past life or two in Victorian Great Britain: she possesses a rare and quite special gift for writing that period "from the inside," and so readers "experience" her stories rather than just peruse a narrative.  I felt I lived with the characters in her newest,  the spectacularly spooky supernatural story GARDEN OF BEWITCHMENT. Evelyn and Claire, twin protagonists,  literally identical twins, their lives, their hauntings. Claire's obsession,  that mysterious and alien concept "toy" referenced so delightfully in the  title: for the duration of reading, all this was a part of me.
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Evelyn and Claire are twins, the death of their father left them wealthy women. Something frowned upon by society and the neighbours, as two unmarried women in their 30’s is scandalous in 1893.

So, they decide to move to a small cottage near Haworth, on the Yorkshire moors. Close to their beloved Brontë family home. Claire is particularly obsessed by Branwell Brontë as she feels him close to her and has conversations with him…he talks to her.

Soon after they’ve settled in, Evelyn meets Matthew, a visitor to the area and they soon become friends. He tells her a tale of a game he found as a child, The Garden Of Bewitchment. This board game had a miniature house, trees and items to make a perfect little garden, but something evil tried to escape, so Matthew ran away and left the game in an attic never to be seen again.

Claire, then finds the game mysteriously appear in her bedroom and things get dark…….

This is a gothic, supernatural tale with a really creepy feel. Just what is trying to trap people in its game world?  A game of Jumanji from the imagination of Poe or Lovecraft. A brilliantly written, atmospheric and goosebumpy read. You’ll never look at a doll’s house in the same way again! Creepy stuff.

Thank you to The publishers and NetGalley for a free eARC of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.
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A wonderful tale of supernatural intrigue,  I had no idea it was going to end the way it did. I was reminded slightly of MR James, the story telling was fantastic!
The characters were well described and I loved that the setting was in Bronte country. The tale was well suited to the wild mysterious landscape.
I can't believe that I  haven't come across Catharine Cavendish before, I will certainly be reading more of her books.
Thank you netgalley.
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A good idea which unfortunately fell a bit flat. The story was slow moving and took some time to get going and then suddenly had to pack a lot of information into the ending, this resulted in a lot of telling rather than showing and for me - a lot of confusion.  
So much more could've been made of the garden and woven into the story at an earlier stage.
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One of the reasons why I enjoy stories from Catherine Cavendish is her ability to create interesting characters within a chilling atmosphere, and this novel was no different. From the beautiful prose at the beginning of the story, until the very end, I was hooked. The characters of Evelyn and Claire were incredibly well developed, and the dark mystery surrounding the strange toy garden kept my attention. Cavendish's well written descriptions elicited many shivers and sleepless nights, and I enjoyed the use of the wild moors to add further intensity to the atmosphere. I appreciated her nod to the influence that the brilliant Bronte sisters had to her writing style, and felt that Catherine Cavendish might just be a reincarnation of Emily Bronte. My only complaints would be that I found some parts of the story to be a bit confusing, and thought that the end was wrapped up a bit hastily.
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