Book #17: House of Silence by Sarah Barthel


Oak Park, Illinois, 1875. Isabelle Larkin s future like that of every young woman hinges upon her choice of husband. She delights her mother by becoming engaged to Gregory Gallagher, who is charismatic, politically ambitious, and publicly devoted. But Isabelle s visions of a happy, profitable match come to a halt when she witnesses her fiance commit a horrific crime and no one believes her.
Gregory denies all, and Isabelle s mother insists she marry as planned rather than drag them into scandal. Fearing for her life, Isabelle can think of only one escape: she feigns a mental breakdown that renders her mute, and is brought to Bellevue sanitarium. There she finds a friend in fellow patient Mary Todd Lincoln, committed after her husband s assassination.
In this unlikely refuge, the women become allies, even as Isabelle maintains a veneer of madness for her own protection. But sooner or later, she must reclaim her voice. And if she uses it to expose the truth, Isabelle risks far more than she could ever imagine.
Weaving together a thread of finely tuned suspense with a fascinating setting and real-life figures, Sarah Barthel’s debut is historical fiction at its most evocative and compelling.”

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley for an honest review. All that follows is my opinion from what I’ve read. There has been no compensation for the reveiw.

I was first drawn to the cover of The House of Silence. I love the turn of the century and of course, bustles. Add in a mystery, Mary Todd Lincoln, and an asylum . . . needless to say, I was hooked to read.

Let me start off that I felt the blurb was just a little bit misleading. Just a tad. Mrs. Lincoln is in the book, there is the case of the fiance’ and his crime, and Isabelle does go to an asylum. However, the book blurb made me feel like I was going to read something that was more in the Historical Fiction and mystery genre. But, really, the book is more of a Historical Romance. That isn’t to say it was a bad book . . . just that I was misled for a moment there.

I was beginning to wonder how I was able to go through the book. Historical Fictions tend to keep me grounded in reality and I’m not able to connect with the character or story. In the case of House of Silence, I was able to read the book fast and be pulled into the story.

The romance was decent, the mystery was lacking a tad (though there were some awesome action parts with Isabelle going against the female grain of the time period), and the friendship between Mary Todd and Isabelle was nice. Isabelle really grew independent because of it.

For a debut, it wasn’t bad. I would have liked more action or suspense and I would have liked it if the villain was just a bit more villainous, but all in all the book was good.

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