London, 1901. After the death of Queen Victoria the city heaves with the uncanny and the eerie. Séances are held and the dead are called upon from darker realms.
Samuel Moncrieff, recovering from a recent tragedy of his own, meets Helena Walton-Cisneros, one of London’s most reputed mediums. But Helena is not what she seems and she’s enlisted by the elusive Lady Matthews to solve a twenty-year-old mystery: the disappearance of her three stepdaughters who vanished without a trace on the Norfolk Fens.
But the Fens are a liminal land, where folk tales and dark magic still linger. With locals that speak of devilmen and catatonic children found on the Broads, Helena finds the answer to the mystery leads back to where it started: Samuel Moncrieff.
When I first read the synopsis of The Golden Key (and saw that stunning cover) I was completely intrigued. The story follows Samuel-Montcrieff, a young man recovering from a recent tragedy and residing in Victorian London. He encounters a lady named Helena Walton-Cisneros, who finds herself caught up in solving the mystery of three young women who disappeared in the Norfolk Fens twenty years ago – but all is not as it seems, and the Fens are a remote and wild place.
I really enjoyed this blend of Gothic horror and mystery story. It was such a fascinating tale and I was completely captivated by Womack’s beautiful writing style. Her writing was so vivid and evoked a really strong sense of setting in the Norfolk Fens. This strange wild place really came alive within the story. Womack’s writing is almost lyrical and it was so easy to just become completely absorbed in the story.
The Golden Key is multi-layered tale and I enjoyed the pacing of the story. I did feel the story jumped around a little between people and what was going on, which did make some aspects a little difficult to follow but overall I found this to be an incredibly engaging story. I thought the characters were well fleshed out and the slightly eerie/ sense of other world-ness of the Fens really created a sense of atmosphere within the story.
If you’re a fan of gripping mystery stories with a touch of the Gothic supernatural, this will be a book you absolutely adore. The Golden Key is an impressive debut, and I can’t wait to see what Marian Womack writes next.