Cassandra Powell is a young woman used to getting her way. When she falls in love with Jeremy Thorne - a man in need of an heir - she keeps her infertility a secret. Not until she's living in the family's ancestral castle on the cliff, does she learn its horrifying history and about the room at the top of the stairs she's forbidden to enter. Her defiance sets off a fresh wave of tragic events that pushes their fragile relationship to the brink. After nearly two years with no baby on the way, Jeremy grows darker and more distant than ever. When Cassandra intercepts a letter from her husband's recent dalliance who's found herself with child, she's devastated by his betrayal. However, she has no intention of simply accepting her fate. Cassandra seizes the opportunity of manipulating the unfortunate circumstances to her advantage. Only this time, the price of getting her way is so high, death would be more merciful.
If you are a fan of original Gothic fiction--the kind that made the genre famous--then you will love this novel. Excellent characterization, vivid setting, and perfectly placed suspense make this a page-turning and fascinating journey. The character of Cassandra is both sympathetic and unreliable (in the best possible sense). Her plight of infertility coupled with the hardship of a merciless husband may lull the reader into a false sense of pity, but Cassandra is no shrinking violet. Her actions may surprise you (they certainly shocked me). Like all good Gothic novels, the questions, twists and turns, and chilling plot points culminate in an engaging and eerie story that will transport you to another time and place--one that harkens back to mysterious mansions, distressed damsels, and dissonant family relationships. No need to have read the first two books in the Thornehaven series to enjoy this one, but if you read this novel, you'll WANT to read the rest of the series. ~Megan Lee