A Dreadful Splendor is a wonderfully evocative gothic mystery romance by B. R. Myers. Released 23rd Aug 2022 by HarperCollins on their William Morrow imprint, it's 416 pages and is available in paperback, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.
This is a very well written and deliciously creepy fable featuring a young orphaned heroine making her way in the world as best she can. Much of her existence revolves around spiritualism, being a fake medium, and conducting seances for rich patrons. Her plans go awry and when she's caught and jailed, her prospects seem quite hopeless. In a plot twist worthy of a Brontë, she's sprung from jail to perform a (fake) seance to comfort a nobleman; but she finds him much different than expected, and he's quite sure his deceased wife was murdered and wishes her to help him prove it.
The mystery itself is fairly well wrought, but it was the atmospheric writing that took the starring role. The author manages to conjure the period without being clunky or difficult to read and the scene setting and dialogue are precise and immersively written. The whole has a very YA feel, and there are parts of the plot arc which are moderately trope-y, but as previously stated, the writing is superlative.
Four stars. Worth a read, especially for fans of YA(ish) gothic mysteries.
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes
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