When sisters Anne, Charlotte, and Emily Brontë learn of the disappearance of a young wife and mother just a few miles from their home in Haworth, they are shocked. Not only is the disappearance sensationalistic with nothing left of her but large pools of blood, but the Brontës know her.
Intrigued, it doesn't take the three long to realize that they have all the skills required to be excellent "lady detectors." They have well-honed imaginations and are expert readers. As Charlotte remarks, "...detecting is reading between the lines-- it's seeing what is not there."
As they investigate, they confront a society that would much rather they all stay home with their embroidery; they absolutely should not be roaming the countryside looking for clues. But nothing will stop these three, even if it means their own lives are in danger as a result.
When I first learned of The Vanished Bride and the fact that it was the first in the Brontë Sisters historical mystery series, I thought that it was a concept that would require careful tending to keep it from dying on the shallow-rooted vine of cuteness. I am very happy to say that author Bella Ellis is a master gardener. With a writing style that is vaguely reminiscent of the Brontës, she has crafted an excellent mystery that brings the three sisters to life.
The major reason why I chose to read this book is that I've read all the books the three sisters wrote. I've been to the parsonage at Haworth, wandered through the graveyard, listened to the rooks' depressing calls from the trees shading the house, and I've walked the moors. I've read about the sisters' lives as well. So I suppose you could call me a Brontë fan. As I read The Vanished Bride, I also discovered that the characters got around a lot more than I expected-- and that I'd been to their destinations, too. Bella Ellis was making me feel right at home.
As the pages turned, I saw seeds of the future books they would write, and I found the depictions of the three sisters and their occasional squabbles enchanting. (And that's a word that I seldom use.) All three long to be the captains of their fate in a society where they're considered nothing but property. When their brother Branwell wasn't at the local pub, he got underfoot, and it certainly wasn't easy to keep their father in the dark.
There are wonderful characterizations and humor in this book, and-- what all mystery lovers crave-- an excellent mystery to solve. I'd fit one piece into its proper place, then another, but I was nowhere close to completing the entire puzzle. In fact, the misdirection with regard to one certain character threw me for the proverbial loop.
Brontë fans should really enjoy The Vanished Bride-- and so should historical mystery lovers who don't know (or don't care) about the family who lived in Haworth Parsonage in the mid-nineteenth century. I now find myself looking forward to the Brontë sisters' next investigation.
The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis
Berkley © 2019
eBook, 304 pages
Historical Mystery, #1 Brontë Sisters mystery
Source: Net Galley