Note: This review contains series spoilers.
We get many review submissions here at AAR and sometimes a book will slip under the radar of both reviewers and readers and, with a series this good, that’s almost a crime. I discovered Deanna Raybourn’s Silent series late last year and quickly read Silent in the Grave and Silent in the Sanctuary, the first two books in the series. I’ve been impatiently waiting for the third entry ever since.
The series, a mix of historical fiction, romance, and mystery, tells the story of Lady Julia Grey, daughter of a prominent earl and one of many siblings. When we first meet her, Julia’s cushioned life has taken her from cosseted daughter to cosseted wife. But her world abruptly turns upside down when her young husband suddenly dies. Into her life comes Nicholas Brisbane, an enigmatic man of mysterious antecedents who makes a living as an inquiry agent.
While there are stand alone mysteries in the first two books, the overriding storyline tells of Julia’s journey from a woman protected by her wealth and birth to her discovery of another, far darker world. Equally, over the course of the two books, Julia learns to respect her own talents and abilities, while also developing a profound desire to live on her own terms. All this is done within a perfectly realized late Victorian setting and with a large cast of equally perfectly realized secondary characters.
By the end of the second book, Julia and Nicholas have developed a profound attraction to each other. Sadly, however, it is an attraction not without significant complications.
As this third entry opens, Julia and her sister travel to a Yorkshire estate recently acquired by Nicholas in order to assist him in setting the house to rights. Their arrival is unwelcome since Nicholas abruptly rescinded their invitation with no explanation just days before the two were due to leave. Julia’s determined sister, however, barrels ahead without telling her of Nicholas’ hesitation.
When they arrive at the gothically gloomy house on the moor, they discover the estate is inhabited by a brooding cast of characters – not the least of whom is Nicholas himself. It seems as if he acquired the estate at the expense of the last members of a noble family who currently remain in residence. On the surface, the mother and two daughters seem clear cut victims of tragedy since they are mourning the death of a son and brother and the loss of the only home they’ve ever known. But, considering the villagers’ murmurs of long-standing familial misdeeds and a treasure trove of Egyptian antiquities acquired by the son – including several mysterious mummies – there is, clearly, a larger truth for Julia and Nicholas to uncover.
For those who’ve read the previous two books in the series, Silent on the Moor holds many pleasures. Much is revealed here about Nicholas’ past and, by the end of the novel, most of his personal mysteries are solved. Julia’s evolution also continues in a most believable manner as she proves herself to be an ever more adept inquiry agent, not to mention a woman unafraid to go after what she wants – and Julia most decidedly wants Nicholas.
My quibbles are few. For this reader, the mystery took a while to get off the ground and a few anachronisms seemed to creep into the dialogue in the latter parts of the book. But, these are minor quibbles indeed, compared to the pleasures the author delivers.
For anyone considering this series, this book isn’t the place to start. The story of Julia and Nicholas is a long and wonderful saga and readers deserve to follow it from the beginning. As for me, I’ll be eagerly awaiting the next in a series that is quickly evolving into one of my all time favorites.
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