I received a free copy of this book to read and judge as part of the 2022 BBNYA competition organised by TheWriteReads. All opinions are my own, unbiased and honest.
This year, the Book Bloggers’ Novel of the Year Award (BBNYA) is celebrating the 15 finalists with a blog tour for each title. Inheriting Her Ghosts came fourth in BBNYA 2022.
BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors, ending with 15 finalists and one overall winner.
‘Inheritance often comes with strings attached, but rarely are they as tangled as those hanging over High Hearth.
‘When Eudora Fellowes learns she’s the sole heir of her estranged great-aunt’s seaside manor, she believes it will be the peaceful escape she’s longed for.
‘What awaits, however, is a dark legacy shrouded in half a century of secrets, and it doesn’t take long before Eudora realizes she’s not the only one to call High Hearth home.’
In Inheriting Her Ghosts, by S. H. Cooper, no-nonsense middle-aged Victorian spinster Eudora Fellowes takes on High Hearth, the dilapidated, isolated pile that belonged to late distant relative Emmeline Parsings.
But something isn’t quite right about High Hearth. Alone but for her protective wolfhounds Cerberus and Black Shuck, Eudora is perplexed by strange sounds, unexplainable occurrences, and locked doors. Have Emmeline and other former residents truly departed?
Inheriting Her Ghosts is enjoyably spine-tingling. Featuring not “only” ghosts (both malevolent and friendly), but also post-mortem photography, stone taping, and Victorian spiritualism, Cooper goes all-in to create an immersive story that’s full of surprises.
The author’s vivid descriptions of the gloomy, neglected High Hearth, and the mélange of hoarded possessions Eudora finds there, appeal to all five senses. I could envisage it so well that, at points of tension (which are satisyingly frequent), I could practically hear the classic stabbing violin soundtrack!
I really liked the character of Eudora. Well-aware that her independence, intellectualism, and preference for wearing trousers mark her out as unconventional in upper middle-class Victorian society, she has no time for people who treat her like an oddity or a delicate flower, yet has a sense of humour and gets along well with those who accept her.
Eudora’s strong-mindedness, self-knowledge, and rationality make her the ideal new owner for High Hearth. She doesn’t run away at the first sign of trouble, makes the effort to get to the bottom of things, and tackles Emmeline’s ghost head-on even though she’s scared, knowing from first-hand experience that her dead great-aunt can physically harm her.
While Emmeline is a bitter and twisted spirit, Cooper nonetheless gives her complexity through a detailed backstory. Eudora (and therefore, the reader) learns how Emmeline became so full of hate, but also that she loved intensely at one time, before tragedy struck.
I wanted Emmeline to stop being cruel to Eudora and other undeserving characters, but at the same time, I did feel sad about how life had treated her.
Inheriting Her Ghosts is a delightfully vivid and creepy ghost story with a great main character.