When well-to-do Hester learns of her sister Mercy’s death at a Nottinghamshire workhouse, she travels to Southwell to find out how her sister ended up at such a place.
Haunted by her sister’s ghost, Hester sets out to uncover the truth, when the official story reported by the workhouse master proves to be untrue. Mercy was pregnant – both her and the baby are said to be dead of cholera, but the workhouse hasn’t had an outbreak for years.
Hester discovers a strange trend in the workhouse of children going missing. One woman tells her about the Pale Lady, a ghostly figure that steals babies in the night. Is this lady a myth or is something more sinister afoot at the Southwell poorhouse?
As Hester investigates, she uncovers a conspiracy, one that someone is determined to keep a secret, no matter the cost…
My thoughts: a creepy Gothic mystery, complete with ghostly visitors and terrible open graves full of dead women and babies.
This was really good, I liked Hester as a sort of Quaker detective. She starts out investigating her sister’s death but ends up drawn into this much larger, nastier scheme. Her associates in this investigation are a reluctant landlord and his cousin, Matthew and Joan, who help her because they know something isn’t right at the workhouse too.
A clever, twisted plot, full of creepy moments and people who aren’t at all who they seem.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.