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The Crow Garden

From the Blurb:

“When Nathaniel Kerner takes up his new position as a mad-doctor at Crakethorne Manor, the proprietor, more interested in phrenology and his growing collection of skulls than his patients’ minds, hands over the care of his most interesting case.

Mrs Victoria Harleston’s husband accuses her of hysteria and says he will pay any price to see her well. But she accuses him of something far more terrible . . .

Nathaniel becomes increasingly obsessed with Victoria and her condition: is she truly delusional or is she hiding secrets that should never be uncovered?”


I read The Crow Garden by UK author Alison Littlewood for my 2017 Halloween Reads.

Set in the bleak Victorian landscape amid asylums and seances houses, The Crow Garden follows Nathaniel, a young male psychiatrist on his posting to the North Yorkshire moors and the crumbling ruins of Crakethorne Manor. There, Nathaniel begins with high aspirations of curing what he considers some of the most-forgotten asylum patients in England. Nathaniel soon discovers the proprietor is more obsessed with the study of skulls, often those of former patients once they have died, than seemingly caring for their minds during life. The eerie garden feared by all the patients with its waiting crows and the seemingly endless supply of skulls alerts Nathaniel to a worrying suspicion of how the proprietor obtains his skull collection. Before Nathaniel can begin to focus on discovering the answer to that worrying question, a new patient is handed into his care. A very beautiful, young wife, Mrs Victoria Harleston is accused of hysteria by her husband. Any treatment and any price is acceptable for her recovery. But Mrs. Harleston accuses her husband of being every type of liar and scoundrel and despite her claims to of fraud and falsehood, she is accused of delusions and confined to Crakethorne Manor. But Nathaniel cannot let her case go so easily. Increasingly obsessed by her claims, Nathaniel walks a fine line between delusion and truth himself and for them both, the ever-present crows wait in the asylum garden, the grave plots slowly increasing in number.

Final Thoughts:

The Crow Garden is a challenging and often confronting tale of the darkness within humanity and the power of the past to haunt the present. The willingness of self-deception to avoid facing reality and the brutal reality for women who did not conform to the ideal social paradigm. A chilling and haunting tale.

My Conclusion?

A recommended read for those who enjoy historical noir, gothic folklore and Victorian gothic horror. Not for the faint-hearted! Modern gothic horror at its best.

1 thought on “The Crow Garden

  1. […] for anyone who appreciates historical noir fiction, the gothic noir of The Crow Garden and classics like Frankenstein and A Turn of the […]

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