“She noticed as if in a dream, a single diamond hair comb fall to the floor. The sparkling jewels landed face down in the mud.”
Annabel Maria Hoddington is the epitome of high society. She has everything money can buy and as befits a lady of her station, is engaged to the richest bachelor in England. However, on the day of her eighteenth birthday – her perfect future on the brink of fulfilment – she is abducted and held hostage in an isolated village, where she finds herself entrapped in the harsh world of poverty. Forced to live amongst three mentally scarred siblings, she must adapt to her new, sinister world…or die.
Thanks to the author for providing this review copy!
Beautiful, spoiled, and pampered Annabel is is for a rude awakening when she is kidnapped and forced to live in a slumlike village. The way the author describes how she is beaten and mentally broken was intense and depressing. Her captors have no code of morals except to put themselves first. As I read I could feel the dirt and the despair settling down around me–and I wondered when things would get better for poor Annabel.
We see her learning to give up her noble attitude as she realizes there is more to life than diamonds and sumptuous meals. I especially enjoyed the little details Gibson provided, such as how cheaper clothes feel after wearing silk, and how sleeping in a barn compares to a royal bedroom.
She learns to trust three others, and eventually her life becomes routine. There is more heartache, however, in the form of a difficult childbirth and more abuse.
Without giving away too much of the twists, eventually Annabel and her newfound friends plot an escape–which means more struggle, tense moments, and false hopes. I was beginning to wonder if there was going to be ANY bright moments in this book!
The last quarter of the book starts off as if things will finally start getting better–but then reality steps in and smashes that hope to bits. I was left with an open mouth – literally – at the ending. After all Annabel went through, and the promises she made, I was flabbergasted. The author is surely not afraid of making her lead character miserable.
Gibson did a good job with the plot, even if it was a bit of a stretch to understand how Annabel managed to slip away so easily, even though so many eyes were on her as she was out in the park.
The descriptions of the characters were wonderfully evocative—their manner of speaking, their dress, the hints of desperation and skewed moral code of the women in the village–all well done.
Some reviewers have mentioned their disapproval of speech anachronisms, but I was able to put that aside, as the plot kept me focused enough to ignore it.
There is so much bleakness and shattered promise in this book, but tiny bits of pleasure stand out; and that makes those moments seem even sweeter.
I would have liked to have seen more of Annabel’s life before the abduction, and perhaps the section in the village could have been made just a bit shorter. We don’t know exactly how long Annabel was kept there, but it started to become slightly draggy. I was ready to see more action, other than the daily living activities day after day. I think a short bit of editing would really make a difference.
Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”B00Y93WL42″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].