Blog Tour: Review - The Daughters of Red Hill Hall by Kathleen McGurl

Today on Becca's Books, I'm delighted to be sharing my review of Kathleen McGurl's recently released The Daughters of Red Hill Hall. I've been a firm fan of Kathleen McGurl's books since the release of The Emerald Comb which I enjoyed immensely, so I couldn't wait to dive into The Daughters of Red Hill Hall. Kathleen has swiftly become one of my go-to authors for whenever I'm after a succulent, fantastically written novel within the historical fiction genre, and so when news of her newest book was revealed, I knew instantly that I'd have no choice but to read it. Thanks to the fabulous Jenny over at Neverland Blog Tours, the opportunity to take part in a blog tour for The Daughters of Red Hill Hall came up, and so I'm thrilled to be shouting about my stop on that tour today!

Available on Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US
Title - The Daughters of Red Hill Hall
Author - Kathleen McGurl
Publication Date - April 14th 2016
Publisher - Carina UK
Format - Kindle Edition (Provided by tour host)

When Gemma discovers a pair of ancient duelling pistols encrusted with rubies in the basement of the local museum, she is immediately intrigued...

On a fateful night in 1838 two sisters were found shot in the cellars of Red Hill Hall. And when Gemma begins to delve deeper into their history she begins to realise that the secrets of that night are darker than anyone had ever imagined.

As the shocking events of the past begin to unravel, Gemma's own life starts to fall apart. Loyalties are tested and suddenly it seems as if history is repeating itself, as Gemma learns that female friendships can be deadly...

Kathleen McGurl 'gets it'. She just 'gets it'. She gets what readers want and need. She understands that for a reader to continue reading, they need to have something that will pull them through the novel with such a ferocity that the very idea of putting down their Kindle is monstrous. This is exactly how I felt while reading The Daughters of Red Hill Hall. I could not bear to look away from this story for even a second. I was completely absorbed, wrapped up and consumed within the twisting, turning, shocking plot, and by the time I turned the final page, I felt like I'd been right there alongside the characters right the way through the novel. Breathless, shaken-up and a little relieved that finally the past could be put to rest, but ultimately satisfied at having read such a fantastic novel. And would you believe that these are the same emotions I've felt after reading McGurl's previous novels too? I've said it before and I'll say it again. Kathleen McGurl writes time-slip like no other author I've come across.

The Daughters of Red Hill Hall begins in the most intriguing of ways, as Kathleen McGurl brings her first character forward, Gemma. Gemma works in the local museum and, after going about her usual business, she comes across a pair of ruby encrusted duelling pistols. Immediately fascinated by her find and desperate to know more, Gemma begins researching the pistols and the story behind them, which takes her all the way back to the 1800s. The revelations Gemma unearths lead her to more questions about a time and event way before her own, and I was just as eager as Gemma to put the pieces of the past together in order to see the final picture. Despite my guessing and wondering, Kathleen McGurl takes me completely by surprise in the most teasing and tantalising of ways. From this point onwards, we slip back and forth through time, between Gemma's own story in the present day, and Rebecca and Sarah's story in the past. The way Kathleen McGurl unwraps the mysteries within her novels is one of my guilty pleasures and I honestly don't think that I will ever tire of it.   

As is the norm for McGurl, it's clear that her research when it came to writing her latest novel was spot-on. Her descriptions, the character's language, certain terms and words made this book all the more authentic. It's hard not to feel as if you've stepped back in time right alongside the characters, and are suddenly wandering through the 1830's. How on earth Kathleen McGurl manages to create a dual-timeline which runs so seamlessly side by side is beyond me. She is superbly talented at her craft and only seems to be getting better and better at it. Everything felt so real to me in The Daughters of Red Hill Hall. I had a vision in my mind of Red Hill Hall itself throughout reading, and with the help of Kathleen's visual descriptions, it was crystal clear. It was the ultimate setting for what would turn out to be a dramatic, twisting, gut-clenching story that gripped me tightly and refused to let go.

The story of Rebecca and Sarah was a compelling one. What started out as a friendship when the girls were young, quickly began to turn into something much darker and uglier. I absolutely adored how Kathleen McGurl told their story, and with just a hint of menace simmering in the air, I felt like I was steeling myself for the moment when the truth would surface. The themes of jealousy, betrayal and more slipped into this and suddenly gave the novel a whole new direction. Kathleen McGurl handled it fantastically, and I loved where the author took me, unable to see any of the twists and turns that came. I was shocked by how things progressed in this book, although in a completely positive way. There were moments of gasping, of clapping my hand over my mouth, of eyes so wide they could have rolled out of my head. It had it all, and packed a powerful punch to say the least. What really wowed me though, was how fascinating it was to see the similarities between the past and the present slowly begin to reveal themselves. Gemma, who we spend time with in the present day, has her own troubles going on, troubles that were very like those of Rebecca's and Sarah's. I couldn't believe how brilliantly Kathleen weaved these into the novel. It blew my mind and left me reeling. I was taken on such a journey throughout reading this book, one that will surely stay with me for a long time to come. There was death, lies, secrets, and so much evilness, but at the same time, it was all so real and believable, and it all begins from Gemma's discovery of the ruby-encrusted pistols. Honestly, it was amazing, and in my opinion, without a doubt this is Kathleen McGurl's best novel yet (and that's saying something because I utterly adored her first two).

As I sit here and write this, I can't help feeling frustrated at myself for not being able to find the words to express how much I loved this book. I mean, I've had a good go at it, but it still doesn't feel like enough. My only hope is that you'll stumble across this review and pick up a copy for yourself. Already, and I know I'm getting ahead of myself here, I am incredibly looking forward to Kathleen McGurl's next book. Rich in research and descriptions, shocking in terms of events, and compelling in how the stories are told, I don't think that I'll ever tire of this author and the novels that she delivers.

Becca's Books is awarding The Daughters of Red Hill Hall by Kathleen McGurl with five bookish stars. For me as the reader, this had it all. I was enticed from the beginning, and remained in that state throughout the remainder, racing to the end without stopping to breathe. So many secrets and mysteries are packed within the pages of this book, and I immensely enjoyed uncovering them alongside the characters. Compelling, gripping and oh-so-dangerous, this was a novel of jealousy, betrayal, and how far a person will go in order to break another person down. Completely fascinating and told by a wonderful author who is one of my all-time favourites, this has left a lasting impression me. Huge thanks to Jenny and Kathleen McGurl for providing me with a review copy of The Daughters of Red Hill Hall in exchange for a fair and honest review.
About the Author
Kathleen McGurl lives near the sea in Bournemouth, with her husband, sons and cats. She began her writing career creating short stories, and sold dozens to women’s magazines in the UK and Australia. Then she got side-tracked onto family history research – which led eventually to writing novels with genealogy themes. She has always been fascinated by the past, and the ways in which the past can influence the present., and enjoys exploring these links in her novels.

When not writing or working at her full-time job in IT, she likes to go out running or swimming, both of which she does rather slowly. She is definitely quicker at writing.

You can find Kathleen McGurl on Facebook | Twitter |


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