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Review: The Curse of Penryth Hall by Jess Armstrong

I’m delighted to be sharing Laura’s thoughts about The Curse of Penryth Hall by Jess Armstrong.

book cover for The Curse of Penryth Hall by Jess Armstrong.  An apple is at the centre of the cover with blue leaves around it

The Curse of Penryth Hall by Jess Armstrong

  • Category : Crime & Mystery
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Allison & Busby (20 Jun. 2024)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 352 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0749031484
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0749031480
  • Goodreads | Waterstones | Amazon
  • Book 1 of 2 (Ruby Vaughn)

The Curse of Penryth Hall Summary

1922. Since the Great War, Ruby Vaughn has made a life for herself running a rare bookshop alongside her octogenarian employer and housemate in Exeter. She’s always avoided dwelling on the past, but it has a way of finding her. When Ruby must deliver a box of books to a folk healer living deep in the Cornish countryside, she is brought back to the one place she swore she’d never return: Penryth Hall.

A foreboding fortress, Penryth Hall is home to Ruby’s once dearest friend, Tamsyn, and her husband, Sir Edward Chenowyth. Ruby is eager to leave, but her plans change when Penryth’s bells ring for the first time in thirty years. Edward is dead. He met a gruesome end in the orchard, and with his death brings whispers of a returned curse. It also brings Ruan Kivell, whose books brought her to Cornwall, who the locals call a Pellar, the man they believe can break the curse. Ruby doesn’t believe in curses or Pellars but to the villagers, the curse is anything but lore. To protect her friend, Ruby must work alongside the Pellar to find out what really happened in the orchard that night.

The Curse of Penryth Hall Review

I thoroughly enjoyed this gothic Cornish mystery. Set just after the Great War in 1922 and begins in Exeter with the main protagonist Ruby Vaughn, an American heiress.

Ruby is a plucky, confident and charismatic character who is sent back to Cornwall to deliver a box of books for her employer. Her dread to return is matched with a supposed curse.

Tamsyn was a great friend to Ruby and lives at Penryth Hall with her young son and husband Sir Edward Chenowyth. Another character is the local Pellar, Ruan Kivell, who also happens to be the recipient of the box of books.

After a grisly murder takes place, Ruby is longing to disappear but finds herself immersed in the local legend of the curse whilst working with Ruan to discover the culprit.

I enjoyed the relationship with Ruby and Ruan. The setting has been written wonderfully well with atmospheric scenes and intrigue amongst the local characters and Tamsyn.

The Curse of Penryth Hall is a great read.  Recommended.

About the Author

Jess Armstrong’s debut novel The Curse of Penryth Hall won the Mystery Writers of America/Minotaur First Crime Novel Competition. She has a masters degree in American History but prefers writing about imaginary people to the real thing. Jess lives in New Orleans. X @JessL_Armstrong

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