This is going to be a short review because do I really need to say anything more than “the Bronte sisters solve crimes together” to make you read the book? If so…your standards might be too high. But either either way, that is exactly what this book is and it’s delightful and dark and introspective and so interesting. I had such a good time reading it. Let’s get to the review! (I’ll try to keep it short lol)
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Yorkshire, 1845. A young wife and mother has gone missing from her home, leaving behind two small children and a large pool of blood. Just a few miles away, a humble parson’s daughters–the Brontë sisters–learn of the crime. Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë are horrified and intrigued by the mysterious disappearance.
These three creative, energetic, and resourceful women quickly realize that they have all the skills required to make for excellent “lady detectors.” Not yet published novelists, they have well-honed imaginations and are expert readers. And, as Charlotte remarks, “detecting is reading between the lines–it’s seeing what is not there.”
As they investigate, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne are confronted with a society that believes a woman’s place is in the home, not scouring 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…
Emily, Charlotte, and Anne Bronte are all back from their jobs and schooling which means for the first time in awhile, they are all under the same roof again with their father and drunk of a brother, Branwell.
But their tranquility is soon disrupted when one of the girls’ friends, Mattie, shows up on their doorstep with a gruesome story to tell. Mattie is a lady’s maid at the Chester estate nearby and when she went to her lady’s (Mrs. Chester) bedroom, all she found was a large pool of blood. The lady was nowhere to be found.
This leads the sisters to investigate the lord of the mansion (Mr. Chester), a man who has already lost one wife to mysterious circumstances. Did he kill his second wife too? As Charlotte, Emily, and Anne work through the clues they find while travelling around England, they begin to put the pieces together.
But just when they think they’ve figured everything out, a new clue comes into play that throws a wrench into their pre-existing theories. Is Mrs. Chester dead or is she just missing? Can she be alive after losing so much blood? Is it actually her blood at all? And what exactly is Mr. Chester hiding?
I loved this story. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time or follow me on bookstagram, you know I love a good mystery. And one with the Bronte sisters?? Oh hell yes.
Bella Ellis does a brilliant job making sure the reader can differentiate between Emily, Charlotte, and Anne by giving them very different characteristics. Emily is all about detecting, isn’t great at the whole socializing thing, and is the most logical of the three. Charlotte can read people like no one’s business and can get people to tell her things without much effort. Anne is all about getting justice for Mrs. Chester as well as the other people they meet during their investigation.
(And they’re all are wondering when the hell Branwell is going to stop being a sad drunk lol)
I also loved how unpredictable the mystery is. You think you know who the murderer is and then 10 pages later, you feel like you’re back at square one. There are lots of twists and turns. At one point, I even suspected Mattie to be involved somehow. They way the book is set up made me question everyone who wasn’t a Bronte.
The Vanished Bride is dark in places, fun in others, and takes the reader on an adventure with the sisters as they try to solve this crime. I am giving it 4 out of 5 stars. If you love the Bronte sisters and murder mysteries, you NEED to read this book!
The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis comes out September 10, 2019.
Thank you to Berkley Books and First to Read for the free eARC in exchange for my honest review.