Reviews: THE LAST HOUSE ON THE STREET & THE MAGNOLIA PALACE

 

Happy Friday fellow bookworms! I don’t know about you but I’m so ready for the weekend.  Today I’m sharing reviews for new book releases for two of my favorite authors, Diane Chamberlain and Fiona Davis.  Both books feature rich history, compelling characters, and intriguing mysteries that kept me fully captivated as I was reading.

 

Reviews: THE LAST HOUSE ON THE STREET & THE MAGNOLIA PALACEThe Last House on the Street Goodreads

Author:  Diane Chamberlain

Publication Date: January 11, 2022

Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

My first 5 star read of the year is The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain, a beautifully written work of historical fiction with such a compelling element of mystery that it kept me turning the pages long into the night.

The story follows a young woman named Kayla who is about to move into her new home in Round Hill, North Carolina. She is unexpectedly confronted by a strange woman who tells her she shouldn’t move into the house, that the house should never have been built there in the first place. Kayla is rattled by this and when strange things start happening on the property, she is downright spooked.

It’s obvious someone is trying to scare her into leaving. Something terrible clearly happened on her property and Kayla is determined to find out what. Ellie, a neighbor down the street seems like she may know more than she’s telling.  Kayla stops by Ellie’s house, hoping to befriend her since hers is the only other house on the street. But every time Kayla tries to talk to her, particularly if it’s anything about the history of Round Hill and in particular the property Kayla’s house now sits on, Ellie clams up and gets extremely defensive.

The story is told in dual timelines, Kayla’s which is present day, and Ellie’s, which takes us back to the 1960’s and the Civil Rights Movement. What we get as the threads from the two timelines come together is a powerful and heartbreaking story filled with secrets, lies, shocking prejudice and violence, forbidden love, as well as a quest for justice.

Wow, what a book! Once I started it, I couldn’t put it down. I was just dying to know what the heck happened at Kayla’s house all those years ago and I cried when the truth came out and the full scope of the tragedy was revealed. It was so heartbreaking and made all the more poignant by Chamberlain’s exquisite writing.   5 STARS

 

Reviews: THE LAST HOUSE ON THE STREET & THE MAGNOLIA PALACEThe Magnolia Palace Goodreads

Author: Fiona Davis

Publication Date: January 25, 2022

Publisher:  Dutton

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

New York City is my favorite city and I love learning the history of its many landmarks so Fiona Davis’ historical fiction novels are always such a treat for me.  In her latest novel, The Magnolia Palace, Davis gives us an inside look at the history behind the iconic Gilded Age mansion that we now know of as The Frick Collection.  Not only do we get to explore the rich history behind the mansion and the wealthy Frick family who lived there, but Davis also gives us an engrossing mystery or two to sink our teeth into as well.

Davis explores all things Frick using two very compelling timelines, one set just after World War I and the other set during the 1960s. The early timeline follows Lillian Carter, a famous artists’ model who has found herself embroiled in a scandal and wanted for questioning by the police in connection with a murder.  Lillian needs a place to hide until she can get out of town and follow her dreams to Hollywood.  She somehow manages to luck her way into a job as the private secretary of Miss Helen Frick.  Lillian thinks she’ll be able to hide in plain sight while earning money to pay for her trip west, but she has no idea what she has signed on for.  She soon finds herself hired by Helen’s father to secretly play matchmaker for her, and even gets caught up in a web of lies involving stolen family jewels and yet another murder.  Lillian is an intriguing and resourceful heroine and I thoroughly enjoyed watching her navigate the endless minefield of drama that seems to surround the Fricks.

The second timeline features an equally resourceful and intriguing heroine that is easy to root for.  Veronica, like Lillian, is a model, and also like Lillian, finds herself unexpectedly at the Frick House.  Veronica is there for a big modelling job and is trying to earn enough money to help support her family after the death of her father.  Veronica gets fired from the job after butting heads with the arrogant photographer and then somehow ends up locked in the building overnight.  While looking for a way out, she stumbles upon a dusty old packet of what appears to be clues for a scavenger hunt and decides to try to follow them since she has nothing else to do. Following those clues leads her on a hunt that could not only solve Veronica’s financial troubles but it also leads her to the truth about the now decades-old murder that we see in Lillian’s timeline.

I loved the way Davis wove the threads of these two timelines together.  I was a little more captivated by the old Hollywood glamorous feel of Lillian’s timeline, but honestly, both made for great reading because I was invested in both Lillian and Veronica’s stories and completely fascinated by the Fricks.

If you’re interested in learning more about one of New York’s most iconic buildings and families, and in being entertained by an engaging mystery while you learn, be sure to check out The Magnolia Palace4 STARS

 

24 replies
    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      It was very exciting. It usually takes me a couple of months to find one so I’m taking it as a sign that 2022 is going to be an awesome reading year, lol.

      Reply
  1. Literary Feline
    Literary Feline says:

    I have been wanting to read something by Fiona Davis for some time now. Her books always sound so good. Now to add The Magnolia Palace to that list! I keep hearing good things about The Last House on the Street and will have to check that one out too. I am glad you enjoyed both of these!

    Reply
  2. Verushka
    Verushka says:

    Ok, now I am dying to know what happened to Ellie in te past in The Last House on the Street. I also love Kayla’s determination to find out what happened.

    Reply
  3. trin carl
    trin carl says:

    I love that the someone is trying to scare the MC into leaving, although there is nothing that could scare me into leaving nowhere , I’ve seen it all in residential living including numerous passing. Hope your week is great.
    trin carl recently posted…Snow in britain

    Reply

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