I am honoured to be taking part today in the Blog Tour for
The Deception of Harriet Fleet by Helen Scarlett.
Dark and brimming with suspense, an atmospheric Victorian chiller set in brooding County Durham for fans of Stacey Halls and Laura Purcell
1871. An age of discovery and progress. But for the Wainwright family, residents of the gloomy Teesbank Hall in County Durham the secrets of the past continue to overshadow their lives.
Harriet would not have taken the job of governess in such a remote place unless she wanted to hide from something or someone. Her charge is Eleanor, the daughter of the house, a fiercely bright eighteen-year-old, tortured by demons and feared by relations and staff alike. But it soon becomes apparent that Harriet is not there to teach Eleanor, but rather to monitor her erratic and dangerous behaviour – to spy on her.
Worn down by Eleanor’s unpredictable hostility, Harriet soon finds herself embroiled in Eleanor’s obsession – the Wainwright’s dark, tragic history. As family secrets are unearthed, Harriet’s own begin to haunt her and she becomes convinced that ghosts from the past are determined to reveal her shameful story.
For Harriet, like Eleanor, is plagued by deception and untruths.
With rain lashing on the window, a warm blanket, and a hot mug of tea I began reading. At once I felt a calmness, an ease, I could tell from the outset that I would enjoy this novel and could just relax and relish in reading it.
Reminiscent of Jane Eyre, but with its own uniqueness, I was thoroughly captivated with the plot and the mysteries involved. I liked that on the surface the characters would seem to outsiders fairly straight-forward, (there was a lot of ‘keeping up appearances’ involved in this, spurred mainly by Diana Wainwright) and there were reasonable explanations assigned for certain events and behaviours.
But, as we move through, this starts to unravel, and so do all the prior notions and concepts we’ve been led to believe so far. Who, if anyone, is telling the truth? What are they hiding? Who can you trust?
The tale is dark and eerie with the murder of a child, ghosts, and abuse, but also contains small beacons of hope and romance. Although Harriet herself is portrayed as deceptive, you can’t help but be on her side and hope that she will soon have better times.
The murder mystery keeps you completely hooked, and I didn’t see the twist coming as the murderer is revealed. Knowing what I know now, I wish I had paid a little bit more attention to certain characters as they were introduced and plan to re-read the novel with this in mind.
The Deception of Harriet Fleet is a wonderful debut novel from Helen Scarlett, I hope to read more from her in the future.
Helen Scarlett is a writer and English teacher based in the north east of England. Her debut historical novel, ‘The Deception of Harriet Fleet’, is inspired by the nineteenth century classics she grew up loving. The main character is a vulnerable governess, who arrives at an isolated house, which is tainted by murder and dark secrets. It is set in County Durham, close to where Helen lives with her husband and two daughters.
Thank you to Quercus Books for inviting me to take part in the Blog Tour.