Cover Image: The Silk House

The Silk House

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Member Reviews

My thanks to Orion Publishing Group for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘The Silk House’ by Kayte Nunn in exchange for an honest review. It was published in January and my apologies for the late feedback. 

This historical mystery is set in two time periods and focuses upon the lives of three women whose fates are linked to the Silk House, located in the Wiltshire market town of Oxleigh.

In the present day Thea Rust arrives from Australia to teach at Oxleigh College, an exclusive boarding school. She is also assigned to look after the school’s first intake of girls. As such she is to stay with them in the Silk House, a converted silk factory from the 18th century. Yet the house is hiding secrets that are waiting to be discovered...

In 1768 Rowan Caswell leaves her village to seek work and is employed in the home of Mr. Hollander, an English silk merchant. She wants to live a quiet life but her skills with herbs and healing soon places her in a precarious situation. The witch trials may have formally ended but there is still suspicion about women like Rowan.

In London, Mary-Louise Stephenson dreams of becoming a silk designer, though being a woman no one will consider her designs. Then she is approached by Hollander, who commissions her designs in silk. A length of fabric that she produces with a pattern of deadly flowers will have shocking consequences for those who dwell at the Silk House. 

I enjoyed this very much and felt that Kayte Nunn created compelling characters and evoked her period setting well. I found that the narrative moved fluidly between the 18th and 21st Centuries. Nunn also linked the periods in small yet significant ways: like the silk bookmark that Thea finds, a recurring symbol with mysterious origins, and her research into the lives of the house’s former inhabitants. 

The novel also contains plenty of details about the historical silk trade along with herbal medicines and the like. 

Overall, I found it an engaging mystery with plenty of unsettling moments, things going bump in the night, and a very unexpected but satisfying conclusion.
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I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review.  
Always been a fan of romantic fiction. And this book delivers without disappointing. Dive into this amazing book for an exciting story.
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The Silk House is an intriguing and well written novel with a haunting story told in three unique perspectives; Rowan, Mary and Thea and spans across two timelines. I liked the description in the novel especially when it came to the silk trade and the dresses, it was sumptuous and so evocative. The current day timeline with Thea proved a lot less compelling for me than the timeline set in the past but even so the whole book just lacked the necessary gravity or spark for me. It was a perfectly good read but nothing particularly caught my attention or was remarkable hence my middle of the road rating.
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I very much enjoyed this atmospheric dual timeline tale. The writing is lovely and the historical detail is rich and authentic.

Thank you to NetGalley and to the publisher for allowing me to read a copy of this in exchange for an honest review.
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This is an elegantly written story that I found completely absorbing.  From the moment I started to read it I was drawn into the atmospheric tale of The Silk House.. I loved the historical detail woven so lightly but richly into the story and the Gothic shadows that make it so compelling. A beautiful and intriguing page-turner.
Thank you NetGalley and Orion Publishing for allowing me the chance to read and review this book.
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A sweeping tale that spans centuries full of magic, ghost and some very strong women. Thea Rust is a teacher from Australia come to work at an all boys school that's finally letting in girls. The year is 2019. The house they will be living in was once know as The Silk House. As a history teacher this intrigues her to no end. But something strange is going on in the house and even though it scares her she will not stop until she figures it out. Rowan is an orphan, the older sister of four boys who must work to pay for their support. In the year 1768 she finds herself in the employ of a merchant in The Silk House. It's a dangerous time for women like her and she desperately tries to keep her knowledge of herbs and such to herself. But that us easier said then done when the mistress of the house demands her help. This sets in motion events that will reverberate through out the centuries. Strong females that want respect and everything they can get out of life. It's interesting and full of surprises and definitely a five star read for me!
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I love a good historical fiction novel with dual timelines that eventually interlink.
The key word is eventually- the plot too much of a slow burn and I got frustrated with not following how the stories would tie together.
This book had so much potential but lost me half way through.
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The Silk House by Kayte Nunn
Publication Date: January 21, 2021
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“1700s - Rowan Caswell leaves her village to work at the home of an English silk merchant. Very soon, she finds herself thrust into a dangerous world, where her talent for herbs and healing starts to attract unwanted attention.

Mary-Louise Stephenson dreams of becoming a silk designer, a path that has remained largely forbidden to women. A length of fabric she weaves with a pattern of deadly flowers will have shocking consequences for all who dwell at the Silk House. 

Present Day - Thea Rust arrives at an exclusive boarding school in the British countryside to look after the first intake of girls in its history. She is to stay with them in the Silk House, a converted silk factory from the 18th century, where the shadows hide secrets waiting to be discovered...”
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Thank you to @NetGalley @orion  for the digital ARC in return for my honest review.
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My thoughts...
I was attracted to this book because of the description. As a historical fiction you get a glimpse of how it was in the 1700s. Mary’s character felt like a supporting character as opposed to one of the three main ones. I liked Rowan’s character, but I expected to read more about “Healers and Witches”. The book started well, but halfway the story waned and the timelines didn’t mesh as well as it should have. The theme of the weaved fabric was so interesting, but it needed more background and explanation. Overall, I liked the concept, the theme of the Silk House connection and the fabric were interesting.
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THE SILK HOUSE is such a satisfying read. This is the first Kayte Nunn book I have read, and it certainly won’t be my last.

This story moves between the present day and the latter part of the 18th century. Thea Rust arrives from Australia to take up a teaching post at Oxleigh College. She’s given residence at Silk House, a property once owned by a prosperous silk merchant some 250 years ago. Rumours of ghosts and strange occurrences have plagued the house since its early days, resulting in occupants feeling unsettled. Thea finds herself experiencing things that go bump in the night . . . but are they real or just a result of an overactive imagination?

As Thea starts researching the history of the house, readers are transported back into time when Rowan Creswell, arrives at the house as its newest maid. Rowan is not immune to the undercurrents of the house; a master, a mistress, and a small number of servants create an intimate atmosphere where secrets can’t stay hidden for long and jealousies quickly arise. Rowan is not only skilled in plant medicine but she has The Sight, and exposing her abilities to others would leave her vulnerable. She knows to stay quiet. 

It’s clear that Nunn has done her research, and it was instructive and enlightening to read about plant medicine and silk fabric design. This is done mainly through the lens of women’s experiences in these vocations. The fact that women were easily branded as witches and that women struggled to be taken as serious professionals in industry are not new concepts to me so I appreciated Nunn’s choice in giving us more than superficial information about these topics. I appreciated learning about specific plants and their uses. I appreciated learning more about fabric design.    

Nunn has done a great job in weaving several stories across time and distance. The story never lagged, the plot wove nicely between past and present, and every character played an important role in the continuation of the story. Highly recommended!
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I enjoyed this book.  Set in 2 different times, the 1700's and the present,  it goes backwards and forwards effortlessly interweaving and tying the stories together.

There is an underlying spooky element to the book as well, which just adds to the narrative.

Sometimes this type of book can be confusing; but the characters and the environment of the times were clearly drawn.

I enjoyed this book, and am looking forward to reading more from this author.
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A wonderful, spooky tale told across two timelines set at The Silk House. I loved the character of Rowan, the 'maid of all things' back in the late 1700's. She was a woman of integrity, warmth and intelligence and really was the lynchpin of the whole household. The history of silks and weaving was well researched and really interesting, and the links to witchcraft at the time made this a fascinating piece of historical fiction. My first Kayte Nunn but definitely not my last.
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The Silk House is a haunting take set between two different timelines. 
The first is set in late 1700s when a young woman, Rowan, is hired as a maid for a silk merchant. She has a talent for healing which quickly draws attention.
The second timeline is set in 2019 when Thea Rust arrives to teach at the Silk House, which is now a boarding school with its first intake of female pupils. Strange things start happening in the house and Thea starts looking into the history of the house,
The duel timelines flow together well and I enjoyed the gothic, witchy vibes throughout the book. I will definitely be reading more from Kayte Nunn.
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This book is told from the perspective of three women: Rowan, Mary and Thea. The characters are interesting, although I feel Mary does not get the focus that the others do. 

The women are all linked by the silk house, home of Mr Hollander who is a mercer and, it seems, a not very honourable man. 

The story is interesting and I loved Rowan’s character. I did feel however that the three parts were not done justice. I feel that more could have been told about the women, especially Mary. It felt at times as though they were only there to help the story move on, whereas the synopsis suggested they are three main characters. 

Overall an enjoyable read.
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Brilliant book, absolutely gripping.  Told in the style of then and now you follow the stories of Rowan in the 1700's and Thea in the current period.  Fashion, medicine, witches, teaching, a little bit chilling with plenty of twists and turns.
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What an absolutely amazing book!

This is historical fiction at its best.  Weaving together two time lines and three storylines and allowing the reader the space to use each thread to better understand its neighbours we're taken on a journey back and forth through time and place and end up thoroughly intertwined in tales and adventures that would each stand alone but together are just magical.

I found the characterisation to be excellent and quickly found myself visualising the action.  The writing was easy yet not trite.

If I have one criticism it is that I would have omitted the final revelation (or, "oh, really" moment).  For me, it jolted me back to the realisation that this was all fiction rather too abruptly. Left out the story would have been no poorer.

With huge thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the ARC.  I'll certainly be seeking out more from this author.
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I loved this book. It's well written, engrossing and I loved the stories it tells and the vivid historical background.
Excellent storytelling and character development, well researched and fascinating.
It's the first I read by this author and won't surely be the last.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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This is an interesting book that tells the stories of three different women trying to make their way in life, a servant, a silk designer and a young Australian history teacher.  I really liked the writing
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The Silk House - Kayte Nunn

"Weaving. Healing. Haunting. The spellbinding story of a mysterious boarding school sheltering a centuries-old secret" This book gave me many eerie feelings throughout as we delved into the ghostly world of witchcraft and the unknown. We follow the two main characters of Rowen and Thea by jumping between the past (late 1700s) and present day to discover the truth about Silk House. If you like a good gothic mystery then this is definitely one for you!

Many thanks to NetGalley and Orion Publishing for allowing me the chance to read and review this book
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This is a wonderful, spellbinding story mostly set around a building in the town of Oxleigh,Wiltshire, which has a very colourful past.  In 1768 the lovely house is virtually new and is home to a prominent silk merchant and his wife..  When the household becomes in need of additional help, a young girl named Rowan is taken on as a maid of all work.  She is a quiet girl but hardworking, who has an affinity with plants.  

In 2019 Thea has moved to to Oxleigh to take up a teaching position in the town.  After more than two centuries of changing ownership and use, the house on the High Street is now a boarding house for girls, the first group of young ladies ever allowed to attend the prestigious College.  Settling in to her new job isn't a breeze for Thea.  The old boy's club at the college are largely again women being allowed to attend and they make their feelings quite plain to Thea.  And to add to her headache the Silk House where she is boarding with the girls is a very strange place, but surely the stories about a curse, a maid who practised witchcraft and even the possibility of a ghost can't be true....

A beautiful, slow burning mystery with some absolutely luscious descriptions of silks and fabrics.  An extremely engrossing read.
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three timelines and three stories which merge to form a fascinating picture. A boarding school reveals its secrets and we meet Rowan and Mary from the past whose stories show just what this school used to be. Ruth in the present day is a teacher at this school and there are strange happenings that compels her to read more in to the school's past.

It really is a rich novel with lovely writing and a pace and structure that builds the intrigue well. Historical fiction fans who also  how one thing, whether it be a building or item can retain the fingerprints of history will love this.
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