Review: “Shadows of Swanford Abbey” by Julie Klassen

Thank you for stopping by today for my review of Julie Klassen’s latest Regency novel, Shadows of Swanford Abbey. This one combines historical mystery and a second chance romance.

About the Book

Agatha Christie meets Jane Austen in this atmospheric Regency tale brimming with mystery, intrigue, and romance.

book cover

When Miss Rebecca Lane returns to her home village after a few years away, her brother begs for a favor: go to nearby Swanford Abbey and deliver his manuscript to an author staying there who could help him get published. Feeling responsible for her brother’s desperate state, she reluctantly agrees.

The medieval monastery turned grand hotel is rumored to be haunted. Once there, Rebecca begins noticing strange things, including a figure in a hooded black gown gliding silently through the abbey’s cloisters. For all its renovations and veneer of luxury, the ancient foundations seem to echo with whispers of the past–including her own. For there she encounters Sir Frederick–magistrate, widower, and former neighbor–who long ago broke her heart.

When the famous author is found murdered in the abbey, Sir Frederick begins questioning staff and guests and quickly discovers that several people held grudges against the man, including Miss Lane and her brother. Haunted by a painful betrayal in his past, Sir Frederick searches for answers but is torn between his growing feelings for Rebecca and his pursuit of the truth. For Miss Lane is clearly hiding something…

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Review

Equal parts gothic mystery and romantic tale, Shadows of Swanford Abbey smartly entwines characters in a crime with a large cast of subjects acting as friends and foes. I was pleasantly caught up in trying to piece together tiny clues of the mystery along the way, and though my observations did pick up on a few things, I was surprised by the culprit and how it all unfolded.

Nods to classics and a deeply developed friendship between the romantic couple heighten the story to a level of excellence among its Regency counterparts. A unique abbey-turned-hotel setting and the added element of the hero’s role as magistrate make for interesting scenes, as well as a thoughtful analysis of the crime. The setting also allows interactions between characters across classes, an element that makes the possibilities of the mystery more complex.

While I have read and enjoyed several of Julie Klassen’s novels, I believe this is my new favorite!

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.