Thursday, March 25, 2010

Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn

This is a wickedly witty Lady Julia Grey mystery. 'There are things that walk abroad on the moor that should not. But the dead do not always lie quietly, do they, lady?' It is England, 1888. Grimsgrave Manor is an unhappy house, isolated on the Yorkshire moors, silent and secretive. But secrets cannot be long kept in the face of Lady Julia Grey's incurable curiosity. In the teeth of protests from her conventional, stuffy brother, Lady Julia decides to pay a visit to the enigmatic detective, Nicholas Brisbane to bring a woman's touch to his new estate. Grimsgrave is haunted by the ghosts of its past, and its owner seems to be falling into ruin along with the house. Confronted with gypsy warnings and Brisbane's elusive behaviour, Lady Julia scents a mystery. It's not long before her desire for answers leads her into danger unlike any other that she has experienced - and from which, this time, there may be no escape.

Silent on The Moor, the third Julia Grey mystery is a gothic and, it seemed to me, an homage to Wuthering Heights and the Bront√ęs (they are mentioned…). There’s a big house partly in ruins, family secrets and a villain working in shadows.

This third installment of the series starts with Lady Julia Grey determined to follow Brisbane and force him to acknowledge his feelings for her. To do so she decides to accompany her sister Portia when she leaves for Brisbane’s new estate in Yorkshire, after being invited to help him organize the house.

On arrival they discover that the former owner’s mother and sisters are also living in the house and that Brisbane seems more remote than ever. Julia does get him to acknowledge some feelings for her but on the next day he lives on business leaving them alone in the house with its inhabitants. There’s an oppressive atmosphere in the house – Grimsgrave – and Julia’s curious nature soon leads her to try to find out more about the former owners - the Allenbys. They seem an odd family, too proud of their once royal blood that they preserved by marrying within the family. The last Allenby men were totally careless of their duty to protect and provide for their tenants. As for women, Lady Allenby is very devout and full of dignity, her daughter Ailith is a beautiful mysterious woman who shows Julia around and Hilda, the youngest daughter, is a bit of a wild child who only gets along with Julia’s brother Valerius.

Then Brisbane returns and an attempt is made on his life. Who tried to murder him and why? Was it really the person who confesses to the poisoning? There are a lot of secrets to uncover before they find the true culprit…

I really liked the atmosphere of the story, suspenseful and intriguing and I also liked that we got to know a lot more of Brisbane’s past. He has seemed a bit illusive in the previous books and now we know where he is coming from and what happened to his mother. I also liked Julia, she was sensible (most of the time) and determined to have him and proceeded accordingly not even letting the occasional jabs of the Misses Allenby get in the way of what she wanted. What I didn’t like was that in the end it felt that the only reason Brisbane was staying away from Julia was the money. And that that problem was too easily solved. I wished for a different solution, maybe his acceptance of their different status and fortunes.

I won’t say I liked this one as much as book 2, which was a really engaging murder mystery with a very fast pace but, I also enjoyed reading it with all those secrets from the past that kept affecting and tormenting everyone involved…

I can say that I'm looking forward to the next book but by now it is as much because of Julia's siblings as it is because of her and Brisbane. I quite liked them!

Grade: 4/5


  1. I really enjoyed this series. I thought this cover was a bit too much of a "bodice-ripper" cover and that the book was a higher quality than a normal bodice-ripper.

    I liked the secrets too, although I was able to guess at one of them. It was a fun read!