Author: Mimi Matthews
Due for publication on 20th July by Perfectley Proper Press
Category: Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Gothic, Romance, Book Review
Yorkshire, 1843. When disgraced former schoolmaster John Eyre arrives at Thornfield Hall to take up a position as tutor to two peculiar young boys, he enters a world unlike any he’s ever known. Darkness abounds, punctuated by odd bumps in the night, strange creatures on the moor, and a sinister silver mist that never seems to dissipate. And at the center of it all, John’s new employer—a widow as alluring as she is mysterious.
John Eyre is quite a different offering from from Mimi Matthews. In a very good way. It’s a gothic and paranormal retelling of Jane Eyre, with genders reversed and another classic tale thrown into the mix. The broodingly dark atmosphere of evil and menace is palpable.
After the devastation of a shocking death, John leaves his home and job weighed down by guilt. He has secured a post as tutor to the widowed Mrs Rochester’s two wards who reside at Thornfield Hall in Yorkshire. John is surprised and a little taken aback when he first meets the boys, who are small and undernourished, with shorn heads.
Bertha Rochester was not in residence as she travels abroad frequently. John has sole care of the boys and wonders why Mrs Rochester bothered to adopt children if she was rarely at home. He begins to implement changes to the arrangements Mrs Rochester left in place regarding the boys, despite her orders, becoming certain her regime could do them no good.
The children looked as though they’d never been exposed to sun in their lives.
John turned his attention back to them, wondering how the devil he was meant to communicate. He had a smattering of French and Italian, but couldn’t converse in either language with any degree of fluency. “Do they speak English?”
“Forgive me, Mr Eyre,” Mr Fairfax said. “I thought I’d mentioned it. Stephen and Peter do not speak at all.”
I liked the way the novel was structured with the narrative coming from John’s perspective in the present, told in the third person. He’s a worthy hero, with a kind heart as is shown through his sympathetic treatment of the two boys.
Alternating chapters chronicle Bertha’s story as her character is fleshed out through letters written to her good friend Blanche Ingram. Her letters and journal entries as she traveled document the places she visits and her eventual meeting with Edward Rochester. Her strong and fiercely independent spirit is evident throughout, even during the final, very chilling part of her journey before returning to Thornfield Hall and meeting John.
The whole ambience is quite creepy as befits a darkly gothic tale, with unexpected mists appearing randomly and repeatedly surrounding the estate and nearby area, strange noises and other disturbing occurrences.
All is far from what it seems at Thornfield Hall and Bertha’s return is the catalyst that sets terrible events in motion. A perfect read for Halloween…if you can wait that long.
I chose to read and review John Eyre for Rosie Amber’s book review team, based on a digital copy kindly supplied by the author.
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USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews from Library Journal and Publishers Weekly, and her articles have been featured on the Victorian Web, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and in syndication at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes a retired Andalusian dressage horse, a Sheltie, and two Siamese cats.