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Review: The Secret Rooms

Updated: May 19

1/5 stars


False advertising. The title and book jacket description are entirely misleading. I thought it was going to be such a fun true-crime-esque mystery! Instead, here's my title re-write:


The Sealed-Off Rooms of Belvoir Castle: A True Story With No Hauntings, An Overbearing Mother, & the Insignificant "Secrets" of an Arrogant Aristocrat.


*shrug* !!


I read about half of this, and skimmed the rest. I heard from a friend that the "secrets" were pretty mundane and disappointing, so I wasn't that invested anyway. And after a while I became quite annoyed with Bailey's slow pace, repetition of the facts, and sensational way of doling out banal information. Plus, the family she's talking about? Kind of all just spoiled aristocratic Brits, all fighting for money and mummy's attention (that may be a bit harsh, but let's just say that I didn't like anyone in the book).


Basically, John Manners, the 9th Duke of somewhere with a big castle called Belvoir - which is pronounced BEAVER! - dies mysteriously in the house. "Mysteriously" because he shuts himself off into a grouping of small, dank, cold servants' quarters and refuses treatment because he's working on "something he must finish." After his death, his family seals off the rooms and, as the current inhabitants say too often, "no one goes in there." A decade later, Bailey gains access to the rooms for research purposes. She soon finds three large gaps in the otherwise meticulously kept records, and embarks on the project of trying to fill in those gaps. She succeeds for two of them.


I won't spoil anything specific about what she uncovers, just in case you're interested enough to read the book, but, in my opinion, they didn't reveal all the much, besides arrogant people doing things to better their positions and leave a legacy that looks shinier than it is.


Someone interested in early 20th century history (British, in particular), the English aristocracy, and the theater of war (WWI) would probably enjoy this much more, cuz there's a lot of those things.


And as I already mentioned - so repetitive. In every chapter it seemed like Bailey assumed it had been 6 months since the reader looked at the previous chapters. Or maybe she's trying to win a bet on how many times she could say that there were three gaps in the paper trail. You could choose any page at random in this 400+ page book and one of those facts is probably on it.


I read this for book club, and I can't wait to hear what other people thought!

 

UP NEXT: Night of the Living Rez, by Morgan Talty


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