‘Fyneshade’ by Kate Griffin | @ViperBooks

Author : Kate Griffin
Title : Fyneshade
Pages : 380
Publisher : Viper Books UK
Publication date : May 18, 2023
Source : Netgalley


I have come to Fyneshade Hall to take up a position as governess. Many would find much to fear in its dark and crumbling corridors, its unseen master and silent servants. But not I. For they have far more to fear from me…

On the day of her grandmother’s funeral, Marta discovers that she is to be sent away from the only home she has ever known. Away from her aunt who despises her, and the man she has been forbidden to marry. She is to be governess at Fyneshade Hall, her charge the young daughter of the owner, Sir William Pritchard.

All is not well at Fyneshade. Sir William never stirs from his room, and his son and heir Vaughan Pritchard is forbidden to enter the house. Marta finds herself drawn to him, despite the warnings of the housekeeper, Mrs Petrie, that Vaughan is a danger to all around him. But Marta is no innocent to be preyed upon. Guided by the dark gift taught to her by her grandmother, she has made her own plans. It will take more than a family riven by murderous secrets to stop her…


From a very young age, Marta was raised by her grandmother. She was taught things, although nothing as ordinary as cooking, baking or knitting, but somewhat darker – and also icky – stuff. This meant Marta was looked upon rather suspiciously by the villagers. When her grandmother passes away, Marta finds she is no longer protected and her aunt sends her away to become the governess at Fyneshade Hall to the daughter of William Pritchard. Marta is not that bothered. She was outgrowing this village anyway and she is convinced she is destined for a far grander life.

But things at Fyneshade Hall are not what they seem. Where is this elusive William Pritchard, the mysterious “P” upon which Marta’s fate depends? Why is a whole section of the house locked up tightly? Why is Wiliam’s son banned from the house? Marta realises she’s not being told everything. Someone is keeping secrets but why?

I had high expectations of ‘Fyneshade‘ but it turned out to be a book of two halves for me. I found the first half moved a little too slowly for me and I struggled to get into the story. This wasn’t at all helped by the fact that I absolutely loathed Marta, although in the latter stages I began to think I wasn’t supposed to like her. Marta is devious, vile, despicable, and extremely cunning. She is dead-set on fulfilling her destiny, which seems to be one of immense wealth and nothing much more than that. She will do whatever it takes to make that happen, and in doing so she is blinded to things I thought were rather obvious. To be fair, she’s one of those characters that will have you desperately hoping karma will catch up with them in the end.

The second half of this gothic tale picked up for me and I started to enjoy the story a bit more. However, this is also where events turned out to be pretty predictable. Sometimes I find I don’t care, this time I did. I suspect that might have been heavily influenced by my immense dislike of Marta. All I could think of was wanting her to get her comeuppance sooner rather than later.

I did feel for Grace, William Pritchard’s young daughter. Locked in in her own little world, she is unknowingly being manipulated at every turn by those she loves and trusts. I adored the two members of staff who took such excellent care of her when others wouldn’t even acknowledge her existence. They were doing the best they could for very little reward, and they were the characters to get behind and wish good things for.

Lies and secrets abound at Fyneshade Hall. This is a very dark and disturbing gothic tale, mostly about greed and about how far someone would go to get what they feel they deserve. As much as I absolutely abhorred Marta, I do realise she is probably one of the most unforgettable and memorable characters I will ever come across. The setting is atmospheric, the writing is fabulous and the descriptions wonderfully immersive. You can almost hear the creaking of the stairs, feel a breeze that will make the hairs on your neck stand up or even hear a sole note on a harp.

Don’t you just love it when a novel leaves you completely conflicted? The notes I made right after finishing the book mentioned that I didn’t enjoy ‘Fyneshade‘ as much as I thought I would, but I didn’t dislike it either. Yet, while writing this review a day later and reflecting on things, I find I enjoyed it far more than I originally thought. Maybe it’s because I was able to distance myself from things a bit, see the bigger picture, put that dislike for Marta in perspective. Who knows.

I have no doubt this will appeal to many fans of historical gothic fiction. After all, it is an engrossing tale with a formidable main character. Despite my initial misgivings, I would actually still quite happily recommend ‘Fyneshade‘ and I very much look forward to whatever is next from Kate Griffin.

Amazon UK (published on May 18th)

My thanks to Viper and Netgalley for the ARC. All opinions are my own.

  3 comments for “‘Fyneshade’ by Kate Griffin | @ViperBooks

  1. May 17, 2023 at 4:23 am

    It’s hard when a book starts that slowly, but luckily you stuck with it and the second half was better for you.


  2. May 17, 2023 at 11:47 pm

    I’m so curious about this one, although I feel like Marta would be a LOT to deal with. xD Fab review! xx

    Liked by 1 person

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