Monday 6 February 2023

A Gift of Poison by Bella Ellis @brontemysteries #AGiftOfPoison #BronteMysteries @HodderBooks @Stevie_Coops #BookReview


Haworth 1847 - Anne and Emily Brontë have had their books accepted for publication, while Charlotte's has been rejected everywhere, creating a strained atmosphere at the parsonage.

At the same time, a shocking court case has recently concluded, acquitting a workhouse master of murdering his wife by poison. Everyone thinks this famously odious and abusive man is guilty. However, he insists he is many bad things but not a murderer. When an attempt is made on his life, he believes it to be the same person who killed his wife and applies to the detecting sisters for their help.

Despite reservations, they decide that perhaps, as before, it is only they who can get to the truth and prove him innocent - or guilty - without a shadow of doubt.

A Gift of Poison by Bella Ellis (aka Rowan Coleman) is published in hardback by Hodder on 9 February 2023 and is book four in the Brontë Mysteries series. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

Bella Ellis' the Brontë Mysteries series has become one of my favourite series of all time. I've been longing to discover just what Charlotte, Emily and Anne would get up to next and A Gift of Poison is a wonderful addition to this spectacular series. 

It's been twelve months since the sisters last did any detecting, when they travelled to London and faced dangers that they could never have imagined. Over the past year, Emily and Anne have had novels accepted for publication, whilst Charlotte's book was turned down. However, Charlotte's life has been taken over by a character called Jane Eyre, she is certain that this book will be 'the one' and she spends hours writing at her desk.  Their home life has improved in that their father's failing eyesight has been restored, however, their errant brother Branwell has fallen deeper and deeper into the clutches of his addictions. Often bringing shame on the family with his behaviours in the village inn. 

Charlotte's dear friend Ellen has arrived for a visit. Much loved by all of the family, Ellen thinks of herself as another sister. 

Recently, the master of the local workhouse Abner Lowood; a vile, hateful man, was acquitted of the murder of his wife and their children. Local people are not convinced of his innocence, especially when the trial involved testimony from a young local girl who was sharing his bed. Testimony that contained detail that was so shocking it was not deemed fit to be published in the newspapers. 

Abner arrives at the parsonage door, informing the sisters that he knows about their detecting, and that he will expose this to all and sundry, bringing shame on the family. Unless they help him to prove that he is innocent. 

Against all of their better judgement, the sisters agree that they cannot bring shame to their father and therefore must start a new detective investigation, to try to prove Abner's innocence. 

What follows is a wonderfully written tale of darkness and hidden secrets. As in the previous books in the series, this author doesn't shy away from the emotionally challenging issues of the day. Indeed there is much relevance to our modern-day life too, which can be utterly depressing, as one would have hoped that things would move and improve over the years. 

The three sisters, and Ellen, with the help of Mrs Crowe; another friend of the family, discover misdeeds and events that will shock the reader. Incorporating murder, domestic violence and poison, this is a case that takes them to places that they had never expected. 

Once again, it is the sense of place that carries this fabulous novel, the description of the isolated and lonely Yorkshire Moors, the unrelenting heat of the summer, the poverty and desperation of the workhouse and the treatment of women is perfectly done. 

I fear this may the last in this series and whilst I understand that the author would like to end on a positive - as Jane Eyre has just been submitted to the publisher, I will really miss these characters.

An utter joy to read. Highly recommended by me. 

Bella Ellis is the Brontë inspired pen name for the award winning, Sunday Times bestselling author Rowan Coleman. 

A Brontë devotee for most of her life, Rowan is the author of fourteen novels including The Memory Book , The Summer of Impossible Things and The Girl at the Window, as well as the co-author of Mirror, Mirror, the debut novel by actor and model Cara Delevingne. 

Bella Ellis lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and five children.

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