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?
“I love the cover Zita designed for me. I was at the beginning stages of thinking about getting a cover created for my upcoming book when I ran across Zita Harrison. From the beginning, she was very professional and easy to work with. She has an outlined process that helps keep things organized, especially for someone like me that didn’t have many ideas of what I wanted. Every step of the way, I was more impressed than the last. When we got to the finished design for the cover I was floored. Her skills are amazing and she created an awesome cover. Can’t wait for my book release so I can show off the cover Zita created.” – DL Jones, author of Billette Hall.
“Zita’s design abilities, professionalism and creativity are amazing. She is very enthusiastic and easy to work with. She created a great cover that matched the concept of my book. Not every designer will do that. If you want your book to stand out from the crowd, Zita is the ‘go to’ designer for you.” – Joseph Gallup, author of American Freedom – from the Agrarian Age to the Digital.
CHECK OUT MORE AT https://zitaharrison.com/book-covers/
With over twenty years of Graphic Design background, I would now like to focus on designing book covers only!! As an introduction to my skills, I am offering 5 free cover designs in exchange for credit in the front matter! Check out my cover design comps on https://zitaharrison.com/book-covers/
Process: (book cover designers charge $300 – $500 or more for this whole process.)
1. Initial consultation:
What is the book about?
Mood, images you have, or have in mind. If you already have images, you can send those to me.
See this #AmazonGiveaway for a chance to win: Owl Manor – the Dawning (Owl Manor Trilogy Book 1) (Kindle Edition).
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Ends the earlier of Nov 6, 2018 11:59 PM PST, or when all prizes are claimed.
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“I could feel the moisture on my arms, hear the rustling of leaves and twigs, the hooting of owls. He turned to face me and stood still, waiting in the gloom…” 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.