Cover Image: The Missing Girls of Alardyce House

The Missing Girls of Alardyce House

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The Missing Girls of Alardyce House, by Heather Atkinson. Mercy me. Pump the breaks! Pump the breaks and listen to this story. I am always in aww and extremely elated when a book from a talented  writer passes through my hands. 
The story of our beautiful heroine, Amy was one of determination, faith, rage, heartache, love and the will to survive. I was cheering Amy on from one treacherous agony to the next, but I found myself happily cheering her on when she rightfully took control of her happiness. While reading her journey among the the hate that oozed from the cold and callous bodies that spied her every move, I kept asking myself and trying to figure out, how will she get out of this? How will she survive? Because of all the many triumphs and tragedies that transpired in the book I can not elaborate on the characters to much. 
I will say this though. You will love the mystery and suspense that darkens the Alardyce House. I was very invested in the book from the sounds that went bump in the night and Lenora who you will come to get to know, once you have read the book. I absolutely was on pins and needles and cringing to know how the writer would pull the story together in the end. I have to tell you it was better then what I have imagined. 
It was like reading a very good Jackie Collins novel or watching a very dramatic Danielle Steel movie. So many things helped this book read so well. For instance, the writer did a splendid job of creating characters whose background stories was so in-tuned with the plot, that it made the book even better. Not only did the story plot make the book believable, but the characters and their dialogue as well.  How the characters moved through the book and the descriptive details as to how they looked, how they felt, was marvelously written. 
The telling of their emotions was so intense and very believable. If you love a good movie to curl up to, then this book is for you. I love the power and the strength that this book brings. I think that the writer did an absolutely wonderful job with writing this story, as well as providing me with some great entertainment. I give this book two snaps and a, “yes mummy dearest”. 
Until next time my fellow readers… read on!
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Sadly, this book was not my cup of tea at all. I loved the sound of it from the blurb, but I didn't get what I was expecting at all. I am not easily shocked or offended, but the level of sexual violence and torture in this book was more than I could cope with.
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In 1880 Amy Osbourne is orphaned and sent to live with her aunt and uncle in Edinburgh. She has a colourful past and her relatives are keen to marry her off quickly. But her reputation and even her life could be in danger from her dangerous cousin Henry...
The Missing Girls of Alardyce House is an historical novel full of passion and drama.
Amy is quite a modern woman and finds the strict moral code of the Victorian era difficult to abide by. She wants to marry for love but with a scandal in her past she is relying on her fortune to take precedence over virginity. I loved her character for her strength and passion whilst also being shocked by her behaviour in light of the Victorian mindset.
Amy finds an immediate affinity with her younger cousin Edward as he does not conform either. But it is her relationship with her older cousin Henry that causes concern. His chilling behaviour sends her in a panic to escape but the past has a habit of catching up with her!
There is a dark atmosphere to the book and I had a sense of foreboding from the start. Violence does occur but I found it relevant to the plot and that it was appropriate to the narrative style. The social conventions of the time especially the attitudes to women felt authentic. There are some sex scenes which take on extra significance when considering the era the book is set in.
The Missing Girls of Alardyce House is a dark but fascinating novel.
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TW: Explicit Sexual Acts and very very violent torture and masochism
Seventeen year old Lady Amy is suddenly an orphan. As it is 1878, she cannot be an independent woman despite her inheritance. She has to go live with her Uncle, Aunt and two Cousins. Alardyce House is a dreary place due to her creepy cousin and horrid Aunt.

Amy is not an ordinary young lady. She is educated and has already a reputation due to an unscrupulous gentleman. She soon finds out her Aunt will do anything to get her niece married and out of the house or do worse. She also realizes there is something or someone causing a fearful and dark atmosphere. Desperately lonely, she begins an illicit affair that will change her life forever.

This book caught me unawares. I thought it would be a simple book of a strong orphan battling and winning the outdated societal expectations. It is nothing of the sort. It is a story with so many twists and turns and "WHHAAAT's that made me finish it in 3 days.
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The cover and title totally sold this to me…..who doesn’t love a book that is filled with magic! from the start this story won me over. It is beauifully written and kept me captivated from start to finish. It left me wondering why on earth I haven’t read any of the authors other books before.

I cannot begin to tell you how good this story is. The Witch’s Tree is pure escapism.

I loved the characters, I could totally relate to Selena with her being an artist. It took me back to my college days when I did Art and Design. I love how the story alternates between the past and present. Following two different time lines building up layers. Each page I read I wanted to know more, I simply couldnt put it down.

This is a well crafted, atmospheric read that I could’nt get enough of. Filled with stunning decriptions that made me feel like I was in the story. I have to admit that I am sad that I finished it and left with a book hangover. This book is absolutely brilliant, I cannot recomend it enough. Giving it all the stars…. it is stunning. I loved every single page of this story.

Massive thank you to Rachel for the blog tour invite and to Boldwood Books for a copy.
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Thank you to Netgalley for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.	

The Missing Girls of Alardyce House by Heather Atkinson, is a well-written historical account of missing girls. It has an eerie gothic feel to it. Recommended.
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Amy Osbourne is sent to live with her aunt and uncle after the tragic death of her parents. Upon arriving she receives a not-so-welcome from her aunt. Her uncle said that he took her in because of his sister and would not listen to the crap that her aunt said about her. The only ally she had in the house was from her cousin, Edward. His brother Henry is the suspect in women being attacked.

Her stay in the house is oppressive and depressing, as a result, she has an affair with a footman. In the meantime, her aunt is trying to marry her off to Henry for the inheritance. She finds that she is pregnant and needs to flee. Secrets abound in the house and she can't trust anyone.

She ends up staying with a close friend of hers and has a son. They live a life that is what she hoped to have except after years, they have tracked her down. The aunt is deceased by then so her fears of having to marry Henry are over.

As the story goes on it becomes more menacing as Amy finds that the ones she trusted the most are the worst of people. What happens in the last part of the book was so heartbreaking. Amy perseveres and gets her revenge.

I really enjoyed this story. I thought at first that it was going to be a typical gothic novel in the vein of Daphne DuMaurier but I was pleasantly surprised. A page-turner period story, on that I recommend highly.
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Although in a completely different style to her usual books, so much of Heather’s talent and themes shine through in this book. It is definitely still gritty and gripping, and still covers themes of violence, gender expectations, rivalry and power.

Amy is a fabulous lead character, and definitely has a “fire inside” her, which is how she is described in the book. I think the narrative perspective was really interesting, as we follow Amy into this overbearing and unfamiliar environment, so we feel a sense of discomfort and alienation, just as she does.

As the story gathers pace, there are some hard-hitting sexual and violent scenes, which definitely bring to life some of the harsh realities of this time period. Heather explores this quite cleverly alongside showing the family to be controlling, highlighting power struggles and a lack of independence, especially for women and lower classes.

The storyline is extremely gripping, carrying elements of mystery, romance and suspicion. I was completely hooked! I have loved how Heather has brought her gritty, darker style to this genre, and I can’t wait to read more from her!
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The Missing Girls of Alardyce House is not my first read from Heather Atkinson, so I expected to really enjoy this, but I don’t think I really knew what I was getting into. This book was so compelling. It is a fast-paced, gritty, historical thriller.

When I pick up a book by Heather Atkinson, I know I won’t be doing anything except finishing the book. And that’s exactly what I did with this. The writing is captivating. I had to know what was happening. There are many twists and turns, and I was surprised around every corner.

The story is a bit far-fetched at time, but honestly, what story isn’t? The characters are well developed, especially main character, Amy. I thoroughly enjoyed my time reading this story and it was very difficult to set down.

If you like historical thrillers, give this one a read!

Thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources for the free review copy and tour invite. All opinions are my own and unbiased.
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5 Word Review: Family, secrets, loyalty, betrayal, love.
This. Book.

I am struggling to review this book without swearing because it blew my mind.

This book surprised me so much. I thought I knew what I was getting myself in for, and then I picked it up on a Saturday morning and didn't even stop to make a cup of tea. The Missing Girls of Alardyce House was incredible.

Amy goes through so much in this book. She's a pretty messy character, she's complicated and disgraced herself in the past, she's vulnerable and more naïve than she believes. Watching her be manipulated was really something - at every turn no one can be trusted, everyone has their own motivations and secrets. The romances are passionate and steamy, the pace fast from the tension and secrets. I loved the take on the upstairs/downstairs trope, the whole forbidden aspect of one of the relationships really raised the stakes.

I loved that there was the barest thread of the spiritual. It really suited the setting, the time period, and it leant an extra unreliable-ness to the narrative that added to the mystery and how other characters interacted.

This book is dark. It's a dark mystery, and horrible things happen over and over again. Take not of the content warnings. I wasn't expecting it to be as dark when I went in. Honestly, thank goodness for the thread of romance that lightened it up, as unexpected as it was.

And that ending?! I am still shocked.

This was an unforgettable historical mystery and I wouldn't hesitate to read another book by Heather Atkinson. The Missing Girls of Alardyce House was truly outstanding.
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If you are familiar with Heather Atkinson’s crime fiction, in particular her latest series of gangland thrillers Blood Brothers, you know that she has a very simple and engaging writing style in whatever subject she chooses to delve into. The Missing Girls of Alardyce House is no exception. Once you start the book (provided this is the genre and the kind of story you like), you will probably fly through it in no time, compelled to read on to find out who was responsible for the mysterious happenings and how Amy’s story played out. I must admit I didn’t warm to the main character Amy, despite my sympathy towards the harsh limitations the society put on women at that time.
 There are suspects and twists that you might or might not see coming and a shocker of a cliffhanger ending that opens up the possibility of a follow-up book. The story is dark and atmospheric and I would be remiss not to mention the violence, but I think the Victorian setting made it even more sinister and mysterious.

if you’re looking for compelling and addictive rather than realistic, or, if you’re already a fan of Heather’s writing and are happy that she switched to a new genre, then dive in. The story is definitely addictive and the twists will keep you entertained!
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Amy Osbourne's parents have only recently died when she arrives at Alardyce House to live with her aunt, uncle and cousins. From the start there is something distinctly off about this dark and foreboding house and Amy's welcome is far from cordial as, from the start, it's her aunt's ambition to get Amy off their hands and married as soon as possible.  However, when Amy enters into an ill fated sexual relationship with one of the male servants, it alters the course of her life forever.

Set during the later years of the nineteenth century, The Missing Girls of Alardyce House is a melodramatic gothic novel which has all the trademarks of a brooding and complex mystery especially as Amy is subjected to some pretty life changing stuff which, at times, makes for difficult reading. Delving deeper into the mystery at the heart of the novel there is much to take in, especially about Victorian attitudes towards women and the complex twists and turns in the plot make the latter half of the story particularly interesting.

The Missing Girls of Alardyce House has some truly menacing, and deeply dangerous moments, which are not for the faint hearted but which add a sinister edge to a dark and complex historical thriller. As this is the first book in a proposed trilogy about Alardyce House I can see where the story will expand to, particularly as the ending of the book lends itself, very nicely, to the story moving forwards.
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The Missing Girls of Alardyce House is a harrowing, gut-wrenching story which weaves a dark web of dread.
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Amy Osbourne arrives at Alardyce House in mourning. She just lost her parents and must now live with her hateful aunt, wimpy uncle and two cousins in an oppressive house. She's forced to marry or be taken to an asylum. But when she becomes pregnant, her life may be over. She may never discover the truth behind the abused and missing maids.
This book is a tough one to rate. On one hand, I wanted to find out what happened to Amy and the other girls. And I love that everyone is not as they seem. But the content is dark and includes intense mental and emotional abuse, graphic sexual content and physical torture. I skimmed a bunch of content and probably won't read more books in the series because of the content and because I don't care enough about any of the characters. The author also overuses the word "was" and the passive verbiage makes me feel disconnected from the story rather than an active participant.
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After Amy's parents die she is sent to live with her Aunt, Uncle, and two cousins Henry and Edward near Edinburgh at their estate Alardyce House On top of being distraught over her parents deaths her Aunt Lorena rules her home with an iron fist and she hates Amy, determined to get her out of her home she catches a lucky break when she discovers that Amy has not only taken up with a servant but she's pregnant. Henry steps in offering to marry her but Amy has seen Henry for the violent brute he is. Determined to save herself and her unborn child she successfully runs away with help from her best friend. Little does she know that this is only the beginning of the true nightmare. 

Unfortunately, the entire plot was pretty easily figured out within the first few chapters. And I mean the entire plot who the killers were and everything. The only small twist was that Amy escapes them once, which of course just sets it up for her to end up in an even worse situation. Which by the way we are told is going to happen when a "witch" reveals her future. So even the one plot twist is kinda ruined. Oh and there's an even less than necessary ghost in the worst use of a deus ex machina situation I've probably ever read. 

The writing was technically well done which is why I went with three stars and I think had the author focused more on making this a mystery instead of a borderline horror (getting imprisoned by a sadistic serial killer is less mystery and more horror in my book) this would have made an excellent mystery and a commentary on women's complete and utter lack of agency during this time frame. Instead she focuses too much on showing how brutal and deranged the killers are and you've known who they were the whole time anyway so instead of adding anything to the story its just prolonging a story that should have ended much sooner with unnecessary violence. 

Overall, this just wasn't my cup of tea. It was less mystery and more horror which I really wasn't prepared for. 

As always I want to thank Netgalley and Boldwood Books for the eArc, this review has been left voluntarily.
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There were so many twists and turns in this book, it was little wonder the main character of Amy didn’t know who to trust. I didn’t either as a reader! This was an interesting read, it does have some unsavoury details in the latter stages of the book but if you are squeamish (like me), they could be left unread with out spoiling the story. The descriptions aren’t too graphic. I did feel sorry for Amy, she had suffered a loss and then had to contend with his viscous aunt. It does have a happy ending of sorts but the surprises carry on throughout the book. I received a copy and have voluntarily reviewed it. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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This was a tricky book for me. It was slow in the beginning and I felt for Amy, the main character,  but then she would say things or act certain ways that made me question her actions while in time of mourning. The men are awful, not many nice characters to like, even Amy herself , she was just so oblivious to everything happening around her that made me want to scream at her. The book does feel long at times but worth the twists and turn that are thrown at us throughout the story and there are plenty.
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This is my first book by the author and the premise drew me in immediately. I am a big historical fiction fan so this was a welcome addition to my library! 

I felt sorry for Amy when she set foot in her uncle's house and could relate to her uneasiness about everything. 
The storyline was well knit but it was hard to get into book initially, maybe because everything was happening too fast. 
A few situations did seem stretched and I really wanted to shake Amy for being so blind. However, one could see how consumed she was by grief and her common sense was compromised at times. I enjoyed the mystery element of the plot, the gothic feel of it and Amy's resilience to take life by the horns. My only beef is with the ending as it seemed rushed but was definitely twisty at best! Pick it up if you enjoy a twisty mystery thriller!
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I love gothic mysteries and this sounded like it would be perfect, but it never clicked. I think I skimmed more than I read. The two stars are generous.
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★★★★★ 4.5 stars (rounded up)

What a delightfully dark historical thriller THE MISSING GIRLS OF ALARDYCE HOUSE is. I really didn't know what to expect, having never read the author before, but the premise was incredibly intriguing. As soon as I started I had the sense of it being an atmospheric gothic tale in the wilds of Scotland. Ok, so Edinburgh is not exactly "the wild Highlands", but the setting of Alardyce House elicits a sense of isolation and malevolence with decidedly creepy undertones. Definitely atmospheric.

Beginning in 1878, Amy Osbourne is sent to live with her maternal uncle and his family at Alardyce House in Edinburgh, until she is of age or has found a husband, after the death of her parents at sea. She warms to her uncle Alfred but finds her aunt Lenora cold and haughty and their oldest son Henry as aloof as his mother. Alardyce House itself, whilst a commanding presence, is dreary and depressing and ruled by her aunt with an iron fist. Her only saving grace is her friendship with the youngest son Edward who is something of a black sheep to the family, with his predilections that he soon confides in Amy, and her maid Nettie. Both of whom warn her of the dangers of getting too close to Henry.

Soon after her arrival, her aunt Lenora decides to marry the girl off quickly so that she could be her husband's problem and no longer their's, and proceeds to host dinner parties in order to parade her for eligible bachelors as if she were a show pony. Amy doesn't appreciate being ambushed but realises she must play along and relent to her aunt's ministrations if not for the sake of peace. After all, she is still in mourning and cannot marry until after her period of mourning is over. When two possible suitors are inevitably found neither of them are deemed worthy and therefore a new plan must be hatched. And that is when aunt Lenora devises her most evil and cunning scheme.

However unbeknownst to the family Amy has had her eye caught by one of the footman, Matthew, who pursues her arduously. And it is here that Amy goes all Lady Chatterley for a time until their secret tryst is discovered. And aunt Lenora inflicts her worst. It is then that Amy's fate has been decided - she is to marry the oldest son and heir to the Alardyce estate, Henry. Amy is horrified. After all that she knows about the unsavoury character and his depraved proclivities, Henry is the last person she wishes to be wedded to. She couldn't think of anything worse. And so, along with Nettie and Edward as her allies, she devises and plan to escape.

Ten years later it's 1888 and Amy is now working as a governess in England having lost her fortune to her uncle of which he was the trustee. She has been highly recommended by a family who are relocating to France to a Esther Huntington who is in need of a governess for her niece Jane, of whom she is responsible for after the deaths of her dear sister and husband. The two women form a friendship almost immediately and Jane flourishes under Amy's guiding hand. Life is good for Amy now and she is happy once again. And then Esther's husband returns...and Amy couldn't be more shocked. How could this be? Will he reveal her true identity? Or has she unwittingly put herself and all she loves at risk?

Amy thought life had improved since her escape from Alardyce House but now she finds that her past has caught up with her and nothing is at all what she had thought. And the lovely family she had been working for turns out to be anything but. But try and try as she might, she cannot escape the clutches that terrorise her now. Is this to be her fate? Is she being punished for her sins? She has but one friend she can run to, if she can make her escape, but is he really?

THE MISSING GIRLS OF ALARDYCE HOUSE, while a little far-fetched at times, was a thoroughly entertaining historical thriller that was atmospheric, sinister and very very dark. The horrors within was something akin to a present day thriller but then again, this was set in the times of Jack the Ripper who was just as depraved as the malevolent characters penned here and even gained a mention in passing as if to emphasise the fact. It most definitely is not for the faint-hearted with some of the descriptions and elements of torture together with the brief albeit vivid depiction of violence.

The characters were very well portrayed, drawn with just enough detail for ambiguity or purpose. Amy was nothing at all like women of the Victorian era should behave, which did give her an air of unlikeability. She was promiscuous from an early age and didn't hide the fact believing it to be quite normal behaviour. That being said it had tarnished her reputation lending her aunt to conniving up ways to rid herself of what she saw as a problem whilst gaining something out of it in the process. Hoisting up her skirts and going all Lady Chatterley with a footman was a decidedly stupid move but Amy showed no real care at the time, that one had to wonder if she brought a lot of her misfortune on herself. But then, the violence that was to come further into the story, she did not. However, Amy certainly didn't do herself any favours with her carry on in her early days at Alardyce House. As for the other stalwart characters in the tale, each had their parts to play and they did so very well.

The twist, when it came, was stealthily done and an even bigger one towards the end turned everything on its head! I was fist-pumping the air because it was as I suspected in the very beginning and then forgot about it...until I didn't. I wasn't surprised but I was still shocked particularly at the lengths of depravity.

A clever well-plotted story that had be intrigued from the start, THE MISSING GIRLS OF ALARDYCE HOUSE is a thoroughly enjoyable gothic tale of secrets and deception that is both atmospheric and deliciously dark. It is also depraved and disturbing. But very addictive. With a fantastically chilling ending that clearly paves the way for the second book.

This is a very difficult book to review because there is so much I want to say but can't! I do recommend you read it yourself. It may be your thing, it may not be. But it is an addictive ride just the same.

I would like to thank #HeatherAtkinson, #Netgalley, #BoldwoodBooks and #RachelsRandomResources for an ARC of #TheMissingGirlsOfAlardyceHouse in exchange for an honest review.

This review appears on my blog at
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