12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to write a review.

12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Clara’s family fortune was stolen nine months ago, so she’s compelled to accept an invitation to spend Christmastide at Bleakly Manor. If she remains for all twelve days, she’ll receive five hundred pounds. Yet, besides bringing her face to face with the former fiancé who jilted her, there’s something more mysterious, even dangerous, about this whole setup in 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, a tale by author Michelle Griep.

Well! As the first book of the Once Upon a Dickens Christmas series, there’s certainly something Dickens-esque about this Victorian holiday mystery. It’s cold and dreary but with drafts of light and humor that slide in, and it features an eclectic cast of distinct characters with a range of personalities and motives. What first drew me most into this story is its style, with excellent imagery and rare turns of phrase—a classic touch that’s refreshing to find in a modern read.

I was fairly enthralled through the first third of the book or so, and though I didn’t remain as gripped through the rest of it, my interest wasn’t lost. Now, there are bits of backstory that seem belatedly thrown in to help make sense of everything. I think “bringing it all together” works better when the right details are mentioned earlier in the book, instead of popping up suddenly to assist a late explanation or event. Also, there’s a slur in the book that I find culturally offensive and am sure the story could have done without.

Nevertheless, fellow fans of historical Christmas ChristFic should enjoy this tale, and I hope to read the second book in the series when it comes out next year.


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