Thanks to redheadedbooklover for an awesome review!
“Owl Manor is a phenomenal, addictive piece of fiction that left me shocked and astonished. Never before have I read such a unique, imaginative, enthralling piece of literature; Zita Harrison, the author of this exciting novel, is incredibly talented because she knows just how to capture her reader’s imagination from the very first page. As I read this book, I struggled to put it down, so much so that I found myself reading it into the early hours of the morning thanks to Harrison’s incredible talent to hold the reader’s attention. Already I would implore you book lovers to read this book because it is incredibly unique and unlike anything you have read before!”
Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I am an avid fan of Gothic literature! As a child I fanatically read ghost stories, and in high school fell in love with Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights” and Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre”, a love that continued into adulthood. I find the darker side of humans fascinating. It’s an integral part of who we are, a product of what life has thrown at us, and is responsible for much of our behavior and many of our choices. And it’s infinitely more interesting than the average, “normal” side of things, whatever that is! 🙂 My writing philosophy follows Pablo Picasso’s words, “A work of art must make a man react, feel strongly, start creating too, if only in his imagination. He must be seized by the throat and shaken up; he has to be made aware of the world he’s living in and for that he must first be jolted out of it.” I have written two books so far and am currently working on my third.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book is “Owl Manor – the Dawning”, a Gothic horror/romance and part of a trilogy. As I said before, I am an avid fan of Gothic literature, and am inspired by books I have read, as well as movies I have seen in the genre.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Not really. I try to stick to a schedule, but as everyone knows, the ideas don’t follow any schedule! So I find myself scrounging for a napkin and pen in a restaurant to write down ideas!!
What authors, or books have influenced you?
From the classics, Gothic literature writers such as the Bronte sisters, Edgar Allan Poe, Daphne du Maurier. From more current authors, I love Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Sarah Dunant, Kate Morton. It’s not just what they write, it’s the way they write. It’s beautifully sculpted writing, like poetry. The writing itself, in addition to the story, is moving.
What are you working on now?
“Owl Manor – the Dawning” is part of a Gothic horror/romance trilogy, and I am currently working on the next book in the series, “Owl Manor – Abigail.”
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I find scrolling for book promotions on the internet turns up some very helpful and lucrative sites. Amazon ads also help. Other than that, I have my own author website and blog, which I have been neglecting lately because I’m trying to get my current novel going. It’s hard to find time to juggle everything!
Do you have any advice for new authors?
I firmly believe we need to write what we enjoy, what we have fun writing, not what others might expect us to write. That way it will resonate and people will enjoy reading it.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
The best advice I ever got was to plan out every chapter before beginning the actual writing. That way you have your story goal and character arcs in mind when you begin writing and it’s easier to stay on track. After that it’s a matter of filling in the “meat” – descriptions, dialog, etc.
What are you reading now?
Right now I’m reading “Craven Manor”, also a Gothic novel, by Darcy Coates. It’s the first book I’ve read by her and I’m really enjoying it!
What’s next for you as a writer?
Keep writing and hope to find the people who enjoy what I write!
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
All the books by Daphne du Maurier I haven’t read yet!
Sometimes the tide sweeps us into a fog where dark forces are at work…
All of a sudden evil and good become blurred…
Powerless and defenseless, we swim toward it, and wonder if we’re going mad.
Stifled by the repression of women in the 1800s, trapped in a loveless marriage, Eva lives a life of dissatisfaction and frustration. The tide sweeps her to the Rocky Mountains during the gold rush in 1859, where she finds unexpected hope at Owl Manor, a strange, dark place with owls in the very fabric of its walls.
But the stakes are perilous. Shadows wander the dim corridors. The owner of the manor is moody, volatile. Does she dare trust him?
Owl Manor – the Dawning, the first standalone book in a trilogy of Gothic romantic suspense novels, is inspired by authors such as Daphne du Maurier (Jamaica Inn, Rebecca), Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Marina, Shadow of the Wind), Kate Morton (The Forgotten Garden).
Filled with Poe-esque atmosphere, dark desires and supernatural elements, this book is a must read for fans of Gothic Romance.
What I love about Michelangelo’s sketches is the different sides of humans he manages to brilliantly capture. Like these two images I put together of anger and calm. People say one cannot be appreciated without the other. Perhaps that’s true – without having experienced rage, can one truly strive for calm?
If the rage comes from things life throws at us that make us angry, maybe the calm comes from accepting that life does this, and will continue to do this, and that ultimately our peace of mind is in the way we react to it. Or don’t react. It’s not up to life. It’s up to us. Our ultimate challenge in life.
Like when people cut us off on the road. When my husband and I go for drives, we have to agree beforehand that we won’t react to anything. Let people cut us off, flip us off, act however they want. It’s their issue, not ours. We will not react. It’s very difficult. We’re conditioned to react. And we’ve both had life throw things at us to make us angry, which is behind my writing Gothic novels.
But we’re realizing that we have a choice. We can hold onto that anger and let it define us, or we can let it go. What happened in the past isn’t going to change. But it’s over. We need to learn to let it be over.
Of course, it’s complicated. We find ourselves reacting to people and speaking to our own kid in ways that are colored by our own negative experiences, without realizing it. All we can really do is think afterwards about how it affects our kid, and how it reflects experiences that have made us angry and unhappy, and decide to be mindful of it going forward. I will not be defined by the past is one of my regular mantras. I will not be like my parents. I will be better, less judgmental, kinder. And it makes me feel better about myself. Because when I act like those I didn’t like, I don’t like myself. That makes me angry with myself, hate myself even, and it taints my perception of things and my behavior towards others.
Recently I visited an old, dying relative who clings to things from the past that eat him alive. And he’s dying. Really? I wanted to say. This is what you focus on as you die? I did say, “Let it go. It’s not worth obsessing over 20 years later.” And he said “I can’t.” It made me incredibly sad. For him and for all those who feel this way. Maybe this is a current awareness, what with meditation and mindfulness becoming fads. And people from previous generations just don’t know how, aren’t even aware that letting go is an option. But for me, it has become a goal. For my own sanity.
To end with a quote that totally hits the mark: “You either get better or you get bitter. It’s that simple. You either take what has been dealt to you and allow it to make you a better person, or you allow it to tear you down. The choice does not belong to fate, it belongs to you.” – Josh Shipp, award winning speaker on teen issues and bestselling author. Well, we’re not teenagers. But there are issues that permanently stain our lives, way past the teen years. And it’s really not simple at all. But we owe it to ourselves to try to get better, to find the calm, don’t we?
Sorry I haven’t written in a while! I’ve been totally bogged down with marketing my current book and writing the next one in the Owl Manor series! Peace.
A line in the book that stood out to the reviewer: “…but even within that oblivion had stirred something dark and malevolent.”
Owl Manor is a wonderful example of Regency style Gothic horror, heavy on the tropes of the genre, but still telling a taut and masterful story. The heroine is a mix of a modern feminist in thought, trapped in an age where women are commodities, and a naive young woman that so often features in these gothic novels. It sounds jarring but provides modern readers a reason to root for our young Eva as she pits herself against Owl Manor and the secrets within.
There are all the right ingredients for a gothic novel – a large sweeping manor house, the spirits of murdered young women, a dark and foreboding man, and our heroine, plunged into the middle of all this in a mix of fate and poor life choices; which lead to some comical moments when read with a modern viewpoint, but make perfect sense within the body of the novel. The book has some stand out moments – the toxic and yet seemingly irresistible draw of Owl Manor and its owner is skillfully written, and the descriptions and comportment of the household are true to the era. The romance, which is a tense slow burn, really adds to the book, as we know it is a bad idea, and yet, the participants cannot help themselves, and like any good tragedy, we the readers must buckle down to observe the fallout. I sat and read it in one sitting, enjoying the spooky ambiance and delighting in reading all my favorite Regency motifs in one place.
V. Timmons 5.0 out of 5 stars Good book! Highly recommended! I thoroughly enjoyed Owl Manor. I read books across a variety of genres, but not typically Gothic romance. After reading this book, I will definitely add Gothic romance to my reading list, as well as other novels by this author. I was attracted to this book by the beautiful cover and the suggestions of dark suspense of the woman protagonist living in the 1800’s.
The author does a great job of developing the main characters as the book builds to a climax, interweaving interesting details and dropping hints of the darkness to come, without revealing enough that you can predict the unraveling events. It contains a mixture of moody suspense, believable dread, and indications of supernatural intervention.
I enjoy novels that leave a bit to the imagination at the conclusion, instead of wrapping everything up into a neat, homogenized package. I like how Owl Manor does this, leaving me to imagine many possibilities and wondering what is to come in the next installation in the series. I eagerly await the next book!
Luvtoread! 4.0 out of 5 stars Eerie Gothic Story! This is a wonderful gothic horror novel. The writing is beautifully done and takes you back to another time, where you feel you are living in another world and witnessing the events that take place within this unusual story.
The story follows high spirited and beautiful Eva who was raised by her well off aunt and uncle who also have daughters, yet Eva was loved as one of their own. Eva marries very young and has a child, but she is dissatisfied at the way her life has turned out. The other main character is Rafe Bradstone who had an unfortunate and abusive childhood and has many scars and wounds that still fester with the cruelty of his upbringing. There is a serial killer of prostitutes reigning fear and terror in Denver but the town hasn’t any clues of who this monster could be. Owl Manor will appear with an air of grandeur and foreboding in it’s majestic yet dark beauty and many, many stone owls adorn this mansion inside and outside. You must read this book youself, to find out the why the owls have become the name of Owl Manor.
I was mesmerized by the storytelling and beautiful writing that Zita Harrison has created in this book. I haven’t read a gothic novel in many years and this book captured all the eerie and dark emotions with slow building suspense that was exceptionally gratifying.
I can’t say enough good things about this book. This is a must read if anyone is interested in gothic books or just a terrific dark story that is so well-written. I highly recommend this book and given a rating of 4 1/2 Dark Stars!!
4 out of 5 stars Serial killer on the loose Eva is a young woman with a strong will and bright mind who feels there must be something more to life than the drudgery of settling into marriage and bearing children that she doesn’t really want, with a man who turns out to be less than what she had hoped for. Not having many opportunities in the 1850s she is swept by circumstance to live in squalor and poverty while her husband pursues his dream of striking gold.
There’s a serial killer on the loose, whose hatred of his mother drives him to murder prostitutes, believing the world is a better place without these unclean women. Money and privilege conceal his heinous acts and seem to keep him above suspicion from everyone…except the owls. When he crosses paths with Eva, her strong will may be her salvation or her demise.
Bonnie Gallup 5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant writing. Great story. Riveting with a touch of the supernatural. In many books, I can see where the plot line is heading and guess the ending…not so with Owl Manor-The Dawning. I didn’t see it coming! To say more I’d have to label my comments as “spoiler alerts” and I really recommend experiencing this book for yourself!!
Zita has done an excellent job of weaving together her characters’ stories. She explores the complex layers of her characters so you understand their motives even if you can’t condone their actions. The book is fast-paced with short chapters so you find yourself not wanting to put it down. Zita knows how to hook your interest and reel you in! I’m a fan who is now eagerly awaiting the second book of the trilogy.
Linda Dunbar 5.0 out of 5 stars Another great tale from a Zita Harrison A page turner that I couldn’t put down once I started reading! The characters are believable and underscore the complexity of life and human nature. Owl Manor is a haunting tale which is both terrifying and thrilling—perfect timing as Halloween is right around the corner! Zita is a talented author and you won’t be disappointed by this book.
Being a fan of anything that might be seen as objectionable, I of course had to check out the show Harlots on Hulu. At first it seemed like it was going to be a soap opera in the world of prostitutes; two madams of two different houses looking for ways to outdo the other, a theme that has been done in all sectors of life, not just those that involve madams. My husband wanted to quit watching it right away. But he’s squeamish, although he’ll deny that to his last breath. Being also a huge fan of Jessica Findlay Brown, I stuck it out and I’m glad I did, because half way through season one I was hooked.
It got me thinking about a few different things in life. First of all, the show doesn’t glorify prostitution, but merely shows it as another arena for life to take place. They do what they do because they have no other choice. Women who appear at first to be shallow and feather-brained turn out to be anything but. Yes, their ways of expression are different given their lack of breeding, but the thoughts are there and the depth of emotions is there. Ultimately it’s about human nature…the good, the bad, the ugly…about how abuse breeds abuse, and hate breeds hate, about man’s need for validation, for power over women.
– “Women will always be at the mercy of men’s power.”
– “It’s not your power we’re at the mercy of. It’s your weakness.” — Harlots, Season Two
Wow, wasn’t expecting that! That kind of depth from a prostitute who is supposed to be uneducated and the lowest of society. And it’s believable. It does not take a college education to give people insights into life. Perhaps experience, another kind of education, is more valuable when it comes to that.
Second, the issue of “tough love”. Margaret Wells, recruited when she was only ten to sell her body, knows nothing else. So she raises her own daughters to be prostitutes because, in her mind, that is the best she can do for them. No one was kind and gentle with her – how would she even know what those words mean?
Tough love, believed in by many even now, is the only kind of love in the show.
– “Love is strongest when it’s cruel.
– “Does it ease your pain inflicting it upon others?” – Harlots season 2
Whoa…that made me stop and think. Is love strongest when it’s cruel? And is that love? What if those who dish it out believe that is love and know no other way of showing it? That’s what they were subjected to by their parents. They felt the pain. But then why would they dish it out to their kids and not stop it? Why would they not adopt a kinder, more compassionate love? Children will face enough hurt and misery in life without getting it from family. Shouldn’t family provide support, compassion and kindness, the cushion for the fall when life becomes painful?
Maybe they don’t question their parents “cruel love” because people like to believe their parents love them. If they admitted their parents were wrong, maybe they would have to question that love. Because if you truly love someone, why would you hurt them? So people ease the pain inflicted on them by their parents by inflicting pain on their offspring. It’s a vicious cycle.
My father was all about tough love, both verbally and physically. I have no doubt he loved me, but I couldn’t wait to get away from him. When my son was a teenager, I caught myself behaving in ways my father would have, and was backed by others who believed in tough love and encouraged me. Then I saw the effect it was having on my child. Our words have a huge effect on our children. And a wise friend said to me, “Be kind to your child. Love him.” That doesn’t mean spoil him or give him everything he wants, but essentially speak to him from a place of love, not anger and frustration. I became mindful of this and threw in a “sweetheart” or “honey” when I spoke to him, then changed my entire approach to motherhood. Because I did not want to be my father and did not want my child to feel like he couldn’t wait to get away from me.
It was a changing point in all our lives. All of a sudden he became hard working, responsible, considerate. I saw the results of compassion versus anger. Maybe I was trying to ease my own pain by inflicting it on him, by continuing the cycle of tough love, but I was also hurting myself and my family. When I decided it was not about me anymore, but about him, I eased my own pain and his. It took the focus off pain and put it on love and growth.
In the end, I think the only way our pain is eased is not by inflicting it on others, but by consciously choosing not to. By consciously choosing to be kind and compassionate.
The show “Harlots” is nothing if not thought provoking and once again Jessica Brown Findlay does not disappoint!
Have you seen it? What do you think of the show and the issues in the show?