MYSTERY

The Vanished Bride

Berkley. (Brontë Sisters, Bk. 1). Sept. 2019. 304p. ISBN 9780593099056. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780593099063. M
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In 1845, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë’s famous novels are yet unwritten. Life on the Yorkshire moors is disrupted when a Mrs. Chester vanishes, leaving rather more than a trace—a great quantity of blood. The Brontë sisters are naturally curious, and they resolve to find justice for the woman when no one else will. Their quest takes them from the local pub to lavish parlors, from the seaside to the forested ruins of a derelict village. It involves a frightened governess, a disgraced musician, and a startling, hidden family trait. The theme of the novel is the role of women in a world that expects submission, demanding respectability without granting respect. Pseudonymous author Ellis succeeds in her aim to portray the “conviction that the sisters’ short lives were…as compelling and exciting as their novels.” Many elements appear that echo those of the Brontës’ actual writing: wild storms, a woman tumbling from towering battlements, mysterious fortune tellers, madness, and other details worthy of the most gothic penny dreadful.
VERDICT Brontë fans will rejoice to see how well the sisters fit the imagined role of sleuths, while those less familiar with the trio can still expect an enjoyably haunting read.

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