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August 1, 2012 / Leslie

Review: Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling by Michael Boccacino

Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling by Michael BoccacinoCharlotte Markham and the House of Darkling
by Michael Boccacino

Genre: Gothic, Fantasy
Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: July 24, 2012
Format: Paperback | 320 pages
Rating: 5 of 5

Charlotte Markham, the newly hired governess to young James and Paul Darrow, finds herself taking on additional responsibilities when Nanny Prum is discovered murdered in the nearby forest. The children’s mother has recently passed away and their father has little time for them.

Charlotte, now both governess and nanny, spends much of her time with the boys. As a break in the monotony of their lessons Charlotte has them describe their previous night’s dreams in a drawing. Paul claims to have visited his mother’s new home and draws a map detailing its location in a nearby woods. Charlotte takes the children on a walk following the directions on the map and along the way they cross over to The Ending, a mystical place in another world where they are greeted by Lily, the boys’ mother, looking very much alive.

Lily has made a sinister bargain with the owner of The House of Darkling where she now resides. The boys are not to tell anyone they have seen her, it’s part of the deal she made, and that is all she will say. She begs Charlotte to bring the children back for another visit. Charlotte suspects that some of the evil that has been plaguing the local town is connected to The Ending, but agrees to return anyway for the sake of the children. Charlotte soon becomes caught up in her own deadly game with the master of Darkling. As she begins to put her plan in place, the true horror of Darkling is revealed.

Part Victorian Gothic and part dark fantasy, this is a wonderfully creepy tale told from Charlotte’s point of view. With beautiful writing and lyrical prose we are introduced to an amazing land populated by a cast of unusual and sometimes ghastly creatures in an alternate world called The Ending, a place where time doesn’t exist, and where no one can die.

The story was richly detailed with well-developed characters and just enough world building to set the tone, bringing out the macabre aura of The Ending. Lily would read bedtime fairy tales to the children from a book called Laura Parker Wolfe’s Tales of The Ending, creepy stories within the story. I loved the atmosphere the author created, the descriptions of the alien residents of Darkling, noises in the night, objects that came to life, moving walls that open and close at will, strange paintings that become animated and a most unusual library.

Initially the story has a Jane Eyre feel to it but soon becomes more magical as we spend time in The Ending, with the tale turning darker as it progresses. Even though it does have some moments of horror, there is enough mystery, charm and even weirdness to appeal to a wide range of readers. An enjoyable book which I heartily recommend. I am looking forward to future work from Michael Boccacino.

About the Author

Michael Boccacino’s poetry has been published in the St. Petersburg Times. He currently works and lives in New York City. This is his first novel.

Connect with the author:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Click HERE for the tour schedule.

Source: Review copy.
© 2012 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.



Leave a Comment
  1. BermudaOnion / Aug 1 2012 7:23 am

    I generally don’t care for fantasy but this sounds really appealing for some reason.


    • Leslie / Aug 1 2012 8:46 am

      This has elements of fantasy within a Victorian Gothic with a little horror tossed in towards the end. I wasn’t quite sure how to classify it.


      • Sandy Lu (@sandylunyc) / Aug 1 2012 2:06 pm

        The author himself described it best: “Think of it as 2 cups Jane Eyre, 6 oz of Lovecraft, and a tbsp of Tim Burton. Serve with ice cream.”


  2. Suko / Aug 1 2012 1:32 pm

    Wonderful review! I wonder what’s unusual about the library!


  3. bibliosue / Aug 2 2012 3:10 pm

    This sounds interesting, I don’t normally go in for this type of book either but I’m intrigued.


  4. Heather J. @ TLC / Aug 3 2012 9:22 pm

    I’m glad to know the horror element isn’t too strong – I’m too much of a chicken to read any intense horror!

    Thanks for being on the tour.


    • Leslie / Aug 3 2012 10:34 pm

      There was only one part that was what I consider intense, and that was a dinner party toward the end. I read that part rather quickly!


  5. stacybuckeye / Aug 5 2012 7:47 pm

    Magical is good and so is a Jane Eyre feel.



  1. Michael Boccacino, author of Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling, on tour July/August 2012 | TLC Book Tours
  2. Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling | Stephanie's Written Word
  3. 2012 Reading Challenge Wrap-Up « Under My Apple Tree

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