The silk house by Kayte Nunn: a book review!

Rating: 3⭐/5

Blurb (from Goodreads)

Weaving. Healing. Haunting. The spellbinding story of a mysterious boarding school sheltering a centuries-old secret by the bestselling author of THE BOTANIST’S DAUGHTER.

Australian history teacher Thea Rust arrives at an exclusive boarding school in the British countryside only to find that she is to look after the first intake of girls in its 150-year history. She is to stay with them in Silk House, a building with a long and troubled past, where the shadows hide more mysteries than she could ever imagine.

In the late 1700s, Rowan Caswell leaves her village to work in the home of an English silk merchant. She is thrust into a new and dangerous world where her talent for herbs and healing soon attracts attention.

In London, Mary-Louise Stephenson lives amid the clatter of the weaving trade and dreams of becoming a silk designer, a job that is the domain of men. Arriving in the market town of Oxleigh, she brings with her a length of fabric woven with a pattern of deadly plants that will have far-reaching consequences for all who dwell in the silk house.

Intoxicating, haunting and inspired by the author’s background, THE SILK HOUSE is the exceptional new gothic mystery by Kayte Nunn.

My review

I feel like this book had so much potential but the story wasn’t done justice. It is a story of a silk merchant’s house where lives of three women collide with each other. The story is told in two different timelines, one during 1700s and one in 2019. The one set in the past revolves around two women: Mary and Rowan. Mary Louise Stephenson, a very talented pattern drawer, is sought out by the owner of the silk house, Mr. Patrick Hollander, for her exquisite designs. But her designs possess their own feelings. Rowan Caswell, a young girl looking for employment, is offered maid’s work at the silk house by Patrick. She possesses a natural gift of the Vision, being able to sense evil spirits and the like. She also has the ability to come up with potions and draughts for various ailments.

Set in the 1700s, women engaged in such activities are considered to be witches and hence, hanged for the same. Fearing such a fate, Rowan keeps her business discreet. One day, her mistress asks her for a potion that will help her conceive. And a series of events follow that which forms the gist of the story.

Meanwhile, Thea, at the present, takes a job opportunity offered at the Oxleigh college and settles down in the silk house with the girls enrolled for the term. She encounters various supernatural events in the house and gets interested in its history. I really enjoyed reading about the history of the silk house. I was expecting so much to unravel that when so little did, I was very disappointed. The plot is written in a very engaging manner, in a language that is so easy to follow. I am definitely interested in picking up other works by the author since I really liked the writing style. If you are looking for a light read that is entertaining, you should give this book a try since it can really keep you hooked.

Thank you Hachette Australia for the review copy!


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