ShortBookandScribes #BookReview – The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis @HodderBooks #BlogTour
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis. I loved this book and my review is below. My thanks to Steven Cooper of Hodder for the gorgeous copies of the book I received for review purposes and also for the place on the tour.
From the Sunday Times-bestselling author of The Memory Book, Rowan Coleman, comes a special new series featuring the Brontë sisters, written under the name Bella Ellis
A young woman has gone missing from her home, Chester Grange, leaving no trace, save a large pool of blood in her bedroom and a slew of dark rumours about her marriage. A few miles away across the moors, the daughters of a humble parson, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë are horrified, yet intrigued.
Desperate to find out more, the sisters visit Chester Grange, where they notice several unsettling details about the crime scene: not least the absence of an investigation. Together, the young women realise that their resourcefulness, energy and boundless imaginations could help solve the mystery – and that if they don’t attempt to find out what happened to Elizabeth Chester, no one else will.
The path to the truth is not an easy one, especially in a society which believes a woman’s place to be in the home, not wandering the countryside looking for clues. But nothing will stop the sisters from discovering what happened to the vanished bride, even as they find their own lives are in great peril…
Girl Power was alive and well in 1845 and the Brontë sisters were amateur sleuths. No, this is not an alternate universe you have stumbled into but the plot of The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis. However, whilst there is no evidence the sisters were ever detectives, I think it’s clear that they were trailblazers in a time when women were expected to keep quiet and behave themselves and I thought the author did a brilliant job of bringing to life the feisty threesome.
When Charlotte, Emily and Anne hear about an incident at a house not far away from them their interest is piqued when they realise it’s where Charlotte’s old friend, Matilda French, lives and works as governess to the two children of the house. It transpires that Elizabeth Chester, the lady of the house, has disappeared from her bedchamber and from the amount of blood left behind it doesn’t look good for her. The sisters decide to investigate and see if they can find out what on earth has happened.
Each chapter follows the story from a different sister’s point of view, although always in the third person. I loved how this really helped to bring each one to life and highlighted their individual strengths and weaknesses. Emily, for instance, is portrayed as a fearless woman, one who would think nothing of breaking into a house to spy on the owner. Charlotte is more reserved but also kinder and less direct, whilst Anne uses her friendly nature to encourage people to talk to her. I also liked the fact that their brother, Branwell, is so well-portrayed in this story. His problems with ladies, drink and opiates are well known and he comes across as rather feckless but also incredibly likeable.
I confess I was a little worried about this book. I did wonder if it would work having the Brontës as detectives or whether it would be a little bit on the naff side. I can tell you that it works beautifully and I absolutely adored following them as they dug into the lives of the Chesters. Bella Ellis has written a fantastic piece of fiction, cleverly weaving her clearly extensive knowledge of the family into the narrative. I thought it was wonderful and I can see this being the first of several investigations for Charlotte, Emily and Anne (and maybe Branwell too).
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.