Under Glass and Stone Box Set: The complete gothic mystery duology by A.N Willis [Book review]
I would like to begin by thanking A.N Willis and Book Sirens UK for offering me an ARC copy of this duo book set in return for an honest review.
This duology encases two books about the Byrne House, the first being Under Glass and Stone and the second Doors of Gold and Rust. I will be reviewing both books separately within this post.
Includes both books of the bestselling Byrne House duology: Under Glass and Stone and Doors of Gold and Rust.
Two disappearances, over a century apart...The truth waits inside Byrne House.
For five generations, Evelyn's family has lived in the same small brick house, shadowed by the mansion across the street. Her Nana filled her childhood with stories about Byrne House: tales of missing children, of lovers gone mad. The mansion loomed every night in her dreams. Even now, at seventeen, Evelyn watches the sprawling Victorian from her second-floor bedroom, unable to explain her obsession with a house she's never been inside.
Then one of the boys in Evelyn's senior class disappears. Evelyn is the last person to see him--just a pale face in Byrne House's tower window.
The police don't believe her. Even her friends think she just imagined the face in the window. Only Alex--a handsome newcomer with his own ties to Byrne House--shares her suspicions. Alex believes that this latest disappearance is tied to the mansion's long-buried past. But there's more that Alex isn't telling her. Evelyn has no idea how far she'll have to go to find the answers. Or what she'll have to remember.
𝔘𝔫𝔡𝔢𝔯 𝔊𝔩𝔞𝔰𝔰 𝔞𝔫𝔡 𝔖𝔱𝔬𝔫𝔢
I absolutely loved this book! It was exceptionally gothic, creepy, tense and full of suspense. We follow Evelyn as she tries to find out why on earth she is so drawn to the creepy mansion that towers over her hometown. Why does she feel such a connection? Why is she so obsessed? What is the reason for her childhood trauma and hallucinations - is there more to these than a child’s imagination? When her best friend disappears and she last saw him in the house, she is determined to uncover the secrets of the house. Unfortunately there are so many more dark secrets than even she is prepared for.
The characters of Evelyn and Alex seem to link inexplicably but she doesn’t understand why, their relationship is investigated as she learns more about the house. I loved the gaps in information, it left me honestly distrustful of many characters. There was so much kept from the reader and slowly revealed bit by bit which kept me hooked completely. As new and disturbing parts of the past began to come to light the tension was palpable within the text. I felt like I was coiled like a spring when I was reading it, desperate to find out what was coming but uneasy about the truths that were going to be unveiled. It was super creepy and tense, but not in a horror way, It didn’t leave me scared, but tense and nervous all the way through.
The writing was fabulous, I felt all the pain and sorrow of Ada and Walter as it was experienced throughout the book. There were so many emotions displayed by all the characters and I felt every one of them as I read on. The story jumped between timelines and we saw present day with Evelyn and past times from Adas point of view through letters written to her sister. Plus other ways which I won’t explain for fear of spoilers! This movement between timelines helped to plot out the story beautifully and worked towards the slow reveal.
The ending was explosive and although gave us some answers, also left a nice opening for the next book to explore more about the sinister nature of the Byrne house and the family who inhabited it. Which leads me to my review of the second book….
𝔇𝔬𝔬𝔯𝔰 𝔬𝔣 𝔊𝔬𝔩𝔡 𝔞𝔫𝔡 ℜ𝔲𝔰𝔱
This was a great sequel to the first book. I read it immediately afterwards as I had this as a boxset on my kindle, however if you had left a bit of a gap between the two books it had plenty of reminders of what happened in the first one to refresh your memory which I found really useful. With books like this, steeped in family history it is easy to forget some parts so the reminders throughout of key scenes were very helpful.
We see again Evelyn and Alex as well as their families and friends. We are reminded of the traumas that they all faced in the first book and the effects it had on them. Jake is a larger player in this book and his storyline is interesting. Evelyn is still struggling with her connection to the house, despite a mystery being solved in the first book and another mystery comes to light that she must delve into, despite not wanting to have anything more to do with the Bryant family and their mansion after last time.
I liked that this story had more of a character based storyline, it looked more deeply into the relationships of the present day characters rather than the ghosts from the past. There were still links to Walter and Ada from the past but these were less intense as in the first book. The book focused more on Evelyn, Alex, their families, Jake and the aftermath of the first book.
It was very cleverly written and I think it wrapped the whole thing up very nicely, there were no loose ends as can often happen with a complicated cast of characters and events.
The ending was gripping, I was completely sucked in and like the first book I couldn't put it down. When my kindle battery died in the last chapter I almost cried!! Thankfully I have kindle on every one of my devices so I could finish it quickly!
I highly recommend this duo of books if you enjoy gothic suspense, drama, eerie developments, intense love and loathing and strong characters. It has it all!
Will you be adding this to your TBR? Let me know in the comments!!
Under Glass and Stone the box set was published on August 4th 2021 and you can purchase a copy here.