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The New Wife

Publisher’s Description

Bluebeard’s seventh wife is the first to survive his wrath, courtesy of ghostly warnings and the timely intervention of her brothers. The village burns her murderous husband, his crimes laid bare and his wealth passed on to her… but even after his death, Bluebeard’s house won’t allow anyone to leave. All wives—living and dead—remain trapped in their husband’s manor, even as the man who terrorised them proves to be less dead than they had hoped.

Haunted by his vengeful ghost, can the wives find a way to break the curse that would bind them in darkness and torment forever?


Summary

I recently read the novella The New Wife (Never Afters Tales) by Australian dark fiction author Kirstyn McDermott.

The protagonist (following the Blue Beard tales) is a young woman who marries a very rich older man. When he leaves the house for a business affair, he tells her she can go anywhere in the house except his private room in the tower. Driven by curiosity about her new husband, she eventually unlocks the door to his tower room. Inside, she finds the corpses of his previous wives. She also is accosted by their ghosts – each bearing the brutal marks of how their husband killed them.

The key to the husband’s tower, now stained with blood, cannot be cleaned. On the husband’s unpredicted return, the new wife gains the assistance of the other wives’ ghosts and the housemaid skilled in witchcraft to finally end the bloody reign of the husband.

Review

The New Wife has strong characters and supernatural elements in a fascinating new re-imagining of the ‘Blue Beard’ fairytale tropes which is masterfully executed by McDermott. A dark fantasy tale that moves at the pace of a supernatural thriller while staying true to the fairytale foundations. An exciting new addition by McDermott to the fairytale retellings that should be highly prized.

Conclusion

A perfect novella for fans of Angela Carter, fairytale retellings, dark fiction and ghost stories. A fabulous blend of fairytale retelling, supernatural thriller and dark fantasy. A highly recommended read!

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