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Review by Kelly Jarvis: The Curse of Penryth Hall by Jess Armstrong

Jess Armstrong’s novel The Curse of Penryth Hall, is a complete delight for fans of folklore, fairy tale, and murder mysteries! The story follows Ruby Vaughn, an American socialite living in England after World War I, who is asked by her boss, a rare book shop owner, to deliver a box of books to a folk healer in the Cornish countryside. Ruby uses the errand as an excuse to visit her old friend Tamsyn, the wife of Sir Edward of Penryth Hall. When Edward is brutally murdered, it appears he has become the victim of an ancient family curse, and Ruby must stay at Penryth Hall to investigate the true cause of his death in the hopes of protecting Tamsyn’s life.


The folk healer who receives Ruby’s box of books is Ruan Kivell, a Pellar who serves the town with his insights, visions, and herbal remedies. There is both competition and attraction between Ruby and Ruan, and their tumultuous relationship sizzles as they uncover clues to help them solve the murder. Ruby, a woman who hates the past and appreciates science, believes the killer is human, but Ruan, the seventh son of a seventh son born in the superstitious Cornish countryside, must investigate the supernatural angles of the crime as well.


The Curse of Penryth Hall is filled with exciting action, luscious Gothic detail, and fascinating Cornish legends and folklore. The landscape is both startlingly realistic and haunted by giants, witches, and Merfolk. The description made me feel like I was visiting an ancestral mansion, and the expertly drawn characters, each with a past full of secrets, kept me turning pages. I couldn’t put this one down! I highly recommend this story to fans of classic mystery novels. You can find the book here.


Thank you to NetGalley for a free copy of the book in exchange for a fair review.

Kelly Jarvis works as the Assistant Editor for The Fairy Tale Magazine where she writes stories, poems, essays, book reviews, and interviews. Her poetry has also been featured or is forthcoming in Blue Heron Review, Mermaids Monthly, Eternal Haunted Summer, Forget Me Not Press, The Magic of Us, A Moon of One’s Own, Baseball Bard, and Corvid Queen. Her short fiction has appeared in The Chamber Magazine and the World Weaver Press Anthology Mothers of Enchantment: New Tales of Fairy Godmothers. You can find her at https://kellyjarviswriter.com/

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