Publication Date: 2 April 2020
Zinnie and her sisters live in the murky tunnels beneath Edinburgh’s Old Town. They keep out of the way of the authorities and remain undetected. Until, that is, rumours of a ghost bring unwanted visitors into the caverns they call home. Among them, a young Arthur Conan Doyle, keen to investigate, and MacDuff, the shady owner of Edinburgh’s newest attraction, the House of Wonders.
Caught up in a world of intrigue and adventure, Zinnie seeks answers. But how can she discover what secrets lie in the House of Wonders while also protecting the sisters she holds so dear?
Gloriously gothic and deliciously dark, this is a tale of hauntings, deceptions, murders, mysteries and the family you choose, set within the gloom and despair of 1890’s St Mary’s Close.
Zinnie, Sadie and Nim are as much a family as any even though we quickly learn they are not related at all. With half of Edinburgh hunting Zinnie and her sisters, her resolve to keep everybody safe and uncover the truth without asking for help shows her determination, intelligence and resourcefulness. The bonds they share, forged out of kindness and friendship (that doesn’t always come first when fighting for survival) are stronger than anything life beneath the Edinburgh streets can throw at them. Zinnie shows the heart’s capacity to grow when she accepts a newcomer to their family.
Both Lady Sarah (inspired by Isabella Bird) and Sophia Jex-Blake (a real historical figure who changed history for women in medine) defied the social norms of the time to follow their passions of exploring and medicine respectively. Bold, bright, brilliant women who fought for what they believed in. The addition of Arthur Conan Doyle as a young medical student was a joy for me as a huge fan of his Sherlock Holmes stories – to imagine him as a young man, just beginning his literary career was a joyful bonus.
MacDuff provides the chauvinistic thinking of the time, his arrogance and ignorance only accepted at the table because of his wealth and status as a newly arrived business man to the city. Darker characters lurk around every corner – Talbot terrorizes but pales in comparison to Fowler who appears to lack any humanity at all.
Tackling equal opportunities on a number of fronts (sex, class, colour, disability) the story raises many talking points along the way.
Great for fans of:
- Gaslight by Eloise Williams
- The Peculiars by Kieran Larwood
- The House Of One Hundred Clocks
- The Unadoptables by Hanne Tooke
Huge thanks to Little Tiger and ReadingZone (where this review was first published) for sending me a copy.