The scissors are blacksmith worked, crude and blackened. They’ve always hung there at the door of Treagrove. For three-hundred years they have played a part in murders and mysteries surrounding the women of the old house. Who says the tool of justice can’t be domestic? Three Novellas Spanning Three Centuries of Mystery 1798-Despite the danger, the abandoned tin mine had always been the place where Esled and Rosie felt safest. But that was years ago. Esled’s beloved Rosie is dead, and the place where they used to meet now holds a deadly significance to someone else. 1888-If anyone deserved to be murdered, it was Davy Sowden. So, Miss Eliza Bell is not surprised that someone has finally killed him. But when she and her lover, Alice, become suspects in his murder, Eliza won’t just need to prove who did it, but also who didn’t. 1977-Melanie’s first teaching job brings her to a seemingly dull Cornish village. But after meeting Bernadette Merrick she’s inspired to dig into the village’s past. Unfortunately for both women someone is dangerously determined to keep old secrets buried.
If I can help it, I always buy the books published by “Blind eye books”, I know that even if I won’t enjoy the story completely, I would still get a chance to read a quality work. If the different publisher produced the book I would have probably passed on it – not because it was f/f ( I read it less frequently than m/m books but I do read it from time to time), but because from the blurb the story smelled a bit like the one that belongs to horror genre. And at best I can tolerate horror elements in the book which does not focus on it; I certainly never enjoyed those elements on its own and avoided the stories which were characterized as horror.
But then I thought about it and the stories also claimed to be mysteries and mysterious Blades of justice may felt like horror element but I was also curious.
So, I dived in. I have to admit after finishing this one that grading it was not easy. First and foremost is it one story in three parts or are those three different stories that stand on its own? I would say both – the storyline centers around one house and some last names pop up in all three books, you can assume that those are same people being reincarnated or they are just different members of the same family which had been around for ages. The only part which connects the stories though besides the house are the blades which supposedly protect the women of the house and boy do they. Otherwise each story can stand on its own. I eventually decided to give separate grades to the three stories and grade the book as a whole as well.
I also cannot stress strongly enough that these stories are NOT romances; these are historical mysteries (I guess the last one still counts as contemporary) with the speculative element and a touch of horror (less than I thought thank goodness). There are also love stories storylines in each novella, and one of those stories even has happy ending, but even that one was not Romance, because it simply had an established couple which had to deal with the unraveling mystery).
In the first story that takes place as blurb tells you in the year 1798 Esled learns that somebody died in the beginning of the story, and it turns out to be her beloved Rosie. The women almost did not stay in touch for fifteen ( or was it twenty years ) after Rosie decided she wanted to get married and Esled did not want to continue their meeting on the side , but Esled still loved her. When Esled comes to Rosie’s house to pay last respects she realizes that her death was suspicious and decides to investigate.
The story jumps between present when Esled investigates and past where we see Esled and Rosie together. I thought that the flashbacks worked really well and were heart breaking, and flashbacks do not work for me more often than not, so I consider this an accomplishment on the author’s part. The investigation had to be simple enough because the first story is probably the shortest one (and the last one is the longest), but I thought that it was well done.
There is even a possibility for the new love story for Elspeth at the end, but let me stress again, this is NOT romance, it felt more like – oh, let’s grab this almost no words character and make it possible love interest to throw Romance readers a bone.
Grade: B and mostly because of the ending, because it felt tackled on. Opinions may differ of course.
The Kissing Gate by Jess Faraday.
This story takes us to pretty much the same place hundred years later. “The Village of Penbreigh lies in the Middle of Nowhere, Cornwall”. This is how story begins and the narrator’s name is Elizabeth Bell. She left London for the reasons connected to her work when she inherited Treagove ( house with the scissors which featured prominently in the first story) and met Alice in the village to whom she was almost instantly attracted and officially hired her as her house keeper and unofficially they became lovers.
This story begins when Alice’s former lover Morwenna Dowrick comes to Alice and Elizabeth for help because Morwenna’s former husband who was presumed dead came back to the village and wanted money from Morwenna. Let’s just say that while he was presumed dead nobody grieved for him.
Soon enough Morwenna’s former husband turns out dead again, only now he is completely dead with those Blades stuck in him. Of course Elizabeth was initially considered a suspect because blades were part of her house and of course she had to start investigating to clear suspicion of her and of the other people she was fond of.
I thought this story was great, the best of the three actually even if they all carry the similar theme.
It was really suspenseful and I could not figure out the ending even though at the end it of course became clear. I would be delighted to read more books with Elisabeth Bell as investigator if the writer chooses to write them.
I was previously recommended (and bought) Jess Faraday’s books and now I am going to move those books to the top of my reading Q. Grade – B+
Greetings from Penbreigh by Rachel Green.
I am not sure how to review this story to be honest. This novella was the longest of the three, it occupies probably 43% of the total length of the book, but when I finished it all I could think about was – what in the name of all holy have I just read and once again my main gripe was with the ending, but it was even a bigger gripe than in the first story. Note, it is not that the story went where I did not want it to go, I just could not understand how it got where it got, if that makes sense.
The year is 1974 and Melanie, a young Black woman who took a teaching job in Penbreigh ends up being one of the lodger in the same house which we visited in the first two novellas. The dad who owns it and his daughter Bernadette stay there and I think another lodger Mari lives there permanently. Melanie becomes friends with one of his children Bernadette aka Bernie and then she also befriends Bernie’s brother Bryn. While brother and sister are being mostly nice to her, dad is trying to get her in bed almost non – stop. Soon Melanie learns that there are a lot of dark secrets in this family’s recent past and she gets involved and tries to investigate what actually took place. I cannot tell you about the secrets, they are very spoilerish.
The mysteries are revealed at the end, but I just did not get it at all. I am not sure how to tell what bothered me the most without a spoilers, but lets just say that, I am perfectly aware of the fact that “Blind Eye Books” publishes speculative fiction, but barring the Scissors which deliver their brand of justice when need be, these books did not seem like speculative fiction and “One Block Empire” their mystery imprint is listed as a publisher actually.
The other fantastic element to me came out of the left field and I am still trying to figure out whether it was a truthful revelation or not.
The romantic love in this story is completely one sided please beware.
Grade: C, because writing was fine I do not feel I can grade it lower than that.
Grade for the whole book is B.