The Vanished Bride
Bronte Sisters Mystery, Book #1
By Bella Ellis
Author Website: rowancoleman(.)co(.)uk
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
Before they became legendary writers, Charlotte Brontë, Emily Brontë, and Anne Brontë were detectors in this charming historical mystery…
Yorkshire, 1845. A young wife and mother has gone missing from her home, leaving behind two small children and a large pool of blood. Just a few miles away, a humble parson’s daughters–the Brontë sisters–learn of the crime. Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë are horrified and intrigued by the mysterious disappearance.
These three creative, energetic, and resourceful women quickly realize that they have all the skills required to make for excellent “lady detectors.” Not yet published novelists, they have well-honed imaginations and are expert readers. And, as Charlotte remarks, “detecting is reading between the lines–it’s seeing what is not there.”
As they investigate, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne are confronted with a society that believes a woman’s place is in the home, not scouring the countryside looking for clues. But nothing will stop the sisters from discovering what happened to the vanished bride, even as they find their own lives are in great peril. (Goodreads)
In The Vanished Bride, author Bella Ellis takes on the infamous Bronte sisters before they were published authors and makes them lady detectors, investigating a friend’s employer’s disappearance and possible murder.
Oh, how I wanted to like this book! I adore historical mysteries, and the idea of the sisters being amateur sleuths is appealing. However, I ultimately found the story boring and tough to slog through. We meet the Bronte family in 1845 when all of the siblings are back under the same roof with their father. Charlotte is nursing unrequited love, Anne is lamenting her lost governess position, brother Branwell is mourning the end of a scandalous love affair, and Emily is mostly in her own imagination. When Elizabeth Chester is discovered missing by one of Charlotte’s school friends, the sisters are determined to find out the truth of her fate. The amount of blood found in Elizabeth’s room suggests foul play, and the sisters consider all of the suspects and possibilities.
I think The Vanished Bride suffers from a bit of an identity crisis. It reads more like YA fiction instead of a mature mystery. The setting is fine, but the characters are one dimensional and lack the depth one might expect since they are based on real people. The dialogue often feels stilted as though the author is trying too hard to make it period correct. That said there are many times throughout the book where feminism, which does not feel period correct at all, rears its head, jarring readers out of the mystery. The sibling bickering also took me out of the story; it is simply annoying.
I had a hard time getting into the story and staying invested in the outcome. I just did not care what happened to Elizabeth and the other characters by the end. Even with a few plot twists meant to beef up the mystery, it is all far too easy to figure out. I felt let down. One of the characters comments that the resolution of the mystery is very dull…it is dull indeed.
Devotees to the Bronte sisters may find The Vanished Bride a worthwhile read, but it is not the book for me.