ShortBookandScribes #BookReview – The Burial Plot by Elizabeth Macneal

The Burial Plot by Elizabeth Macneal will be published by Picador on 6th June in hardcover, eBook and audiobook. My thanks to the publishers for the proof copy and the beautiful finished copy. Just look at those endpapers!

From Elizabeth Macneal, the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Doll Factory, The Burial Plot is a spellbinding Gothic thriller about murder and manipulation.

London, 1839. With the cemeteries full and money to be made in death, tricksters Crawford and Bonnie survive on wicked schemes and ill-gotten coin. But one blistering evening, their fortunes flip. A man lies in a pool of blood at Bonnie’s feet and now she needs to disappear.

Crawford secures her a position as lady’s maid in a grand house on the Thames. As Bonnie comes to understand the family – the eccentric Mr Moncrieff, obsessively drawing mausoleums for his dead wife, and their peculiar daughter Cissie, scribbling imaginary love letters to herself – she begins to question what secrets are lying behind the house’s paper-thin walls and whether her own presence here was planned from the beginning.

Because Crawford is watching, and perhaps he is plotting his greatest trick yet . . .

It’s London in the late 1830s and Bonnie and Crawford are living by their wits to survive, gaining money in cunning ways. After Bonnie finds herself needing to escape London and a terrible crime, she applies for a position as a lady’s maid at Endellion House, the home of Mr Moncrieff and his daughter, Cissie. However, all is not as it seems and soon Bonnie realises that her place in the house is not as unplanned as she thought.

This is Elizabeth Macneal’s third book and quite possibly my favourite of them all. It has the kind of underlying sinister feel of The Doll Factory but with the addition of the inner workings and subterfuge at Endellion which made it really striking and particularly gripping. As things got underway and Bonnie found her feet in the house I struggled to put this dark and inventive book down.

The Burial Plot is beautifully written and plotted impeccably. There were some plot points that I half-guessed at and some that I didn’t see coming at all, and I found the whole story utterly mesmerising from beginning to end. The emotions of every character, whether prominent or not, jump off the page which makes for quite an edgy read. Bonnie is initially in thrall to the charismatic Crawford, but as time goes on her sense of unease is palpable and eventually I found myself rooting for our feisty heroine and what her future life could be. The ending was quite nerve-wracking!

This book is rich with detail and atmospherically portrays this era in London’s history and the juxtaposition between the seedy underbelly and the rich folk with their fancy houses. The Victorians’ fascination with death is illustrated by the mausoleums Mr Moncrieff designs and which form a large part of the story. The Burial Plot is a tremendous book, a gothic thriller created to perfection. Easily one of my favourite books of the year.

Elizabeth Macneal is the author of two Sunday Times-bestselling novels: The Doll Factory, which won the 2018 Caledonia Novel Award and has been adapted into a major TV series on Paramount+, and Circus of Wonders. Her work has been translated into twenty-nine languages. Born in Scotland, Elizabeth is also a potter and lives in Twickenham with her family. She can be found on instagram @elizabethmacneal.


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