Review: The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

Friday, November 3, 2017
Title: The House at Riverton
Author: Kate Morton
Genre: historical, gothic, mystery
Series: N/A
Pages: 483
Published: 2006
Source: purchased
Rating: 4.5/5

Grace Bradley was just a girl when she began working as a servant at Riverton House. For years, her life was inextricably tied with the glamorous and eccentric Hartford family's daughters, Hannah and Emmeline. At a glittering society party in the summer of 1924, a young poet shot himself. The only witnesses were Hannah and Emmeline. Only they - and Grace - know the dark truth.

Many years later, when Grace is living in a nursing home, she receives a visit from a young director making a film about the events of that summer. The director takes Grace to Riverton House and reawakens memories of the last days of Edwardian aristocratic privilege, of the vibrant twenties, and of a stunning secret Grace kept all her life.

A vivid, page-turning tale of suspense and passion, "The House At Riverton" is marked by indelible characters and a breathtaking ending that readers won't soon forget.

Morton's debut is impressive; a near-flawless introduction to the complex convolutions of her plots and intertwined character histories that soon become her hallmark as an author. The House at Riverton is an atmospheric and gothic favorite, covering various themes such as the shifting nature of history, the upstairs/downstairs dichotomy of English service during Edwardian times, how the past informs the present, how secrets can and will surface, as well as the unreliable nature of memory. Morton ably ties all the loose threads and various themes of her story into a comprehensive, clever dual-timeline narrative whose picture becomes ever-clearer as Grace dictates key events.

It's a book that's defined as much by its locations as its people; the setting of the Hartford ancestral manor at Riverton is as much a character as any person and is also a central component of both timelines that make up the narrative. Using her evocative backdrop to literally loom over Grace, Hannah, Emme and Robbie from the first time they meet, Morton subtly weaves a backstory of tragedy leading up to the mysterious events of 1924.

The plot that unfolds slowly and perfectly at the heart of the The House at Riverton centers on two sisters; their rivalries, their secrets, their often tested familial bond. Both Hannah and Emme are fully three-dimensional beings; each with a past that informs their future and sets themselves at cross-purposes to one another in one chapter and and aligns them as allies in the next. Their relationship is pivotal and ever-evolving as the secrets and half-truths that make up their lives are uncovered. The way the finale crescendos into an inevitable, but still clever and unexpected, finale makes this another Morton masterpiece. 

A master storyteller from the first, and one with a considerable talent for crafting real, complex, misguided characters, Kate Morton's first novel is haunting and unforgettable. The emotions it creates and the characters it gave voice linger long after the last page is read.


November TBR

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

It is my birthday month and hopefully that means all my planned reads for the next few weeks are all awesome and five-stars. It's not too much to hope for is it? I should say not.

Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

In Oathbringer, the third volume of the New York Times bestselling Stormlight Archive, humanity faces a new Desolation with the return of the Voidbringers, a foe with numbers as great as their thirst for vengeance.

Dalinar Kholin's Alethi armies won a fleeting victory at a terrible cost: The enemy Parshendi summoned the violent Everstorm, which now sweeps the world with destruction, and in its passing awakens the once peaceful and subservient parshmen to the horror of their millennia-long enslavement by humans. While on a desperate flight to warn his family of the threat, Kaladin Stormblessed must come to grips with the fact that the newly kindled anger of the parshmen may be wholly justified.

Nestled in the mountains high above the storms, in the tower city of Urithiru, Shallan Davar investigates the wonders of the ancient stronghold of the Knights Radiant and unearths dark secrets lurking in its depths. And Dalinar realizes that his holy mission to unite his homeland of Alethkar was too narrow in scope. Unless all the nations of Roshar can put aside Dalinar's blood-soaked past and stand together--and unless Dalinar himself can confront that past--even the restoration of the Knights Radiant will not prevent the end of civilization.

I am so excited and so scared and nervous that I have not even read the finished review copy Tor sent me. I'M SORRY TOR it's just all so much pressure. But I do plan to marathon this in the next few days and have a review for the pub date of the 14th!

Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills -- Mills is quickly becoming the queen of contemporary YA for me. This looks so good and she writes such good friendships.

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia --I am and will always be a sucker for a manners-and-magic kinda story. So this looks excellent on both fronts.

Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray -- hoo boy here we go with the third Diviners. I haven't even seen my copy yet and I am 100% already Not Ready for this.

Hamilton's Battalion by Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, and Alyssa Cole -- though I have yet to read Lerner or Milan yet (sorry Dani!!!) I love Cole and I am v excited for a diverse romance historical.. even if I am not a Hamilperson (sorry, world).

 An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard

There is a dark secret that is hiding at the heart of New York City and diminishing the city’s magicians’ power in this fantasy thriller by acclaimed author Kat Howard.

In New York City, magic controls everything. But the power of magic is fading. No one knows what is happening, except for Sydney—a new, rare magician with incredible power that has been unmatched in decades, and she may be the only person who is able to stop the darkness that is weakening the magic. But Sydney doesn’t want to help the system, she wants to destroy it.

Sydney comes from the House of Shadows, which controls the magic with the help of sacrifices from magicians.

This just sound absolutely fucking amazing and that cover kills meeeeee.

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