Silent in the Sanctuary
by Deanna Raybourn
Book 2 of Lady Julia Grey series
Much to her surprise, the one man she had hoped to forget - the enigmatic and compelling Nicholas Brisbane - is among her father's houseguests; and he is not alone. Not to be outdone, Julia shows him that two can play at flirtation and promptly introduces him to her devoted, younger, titled Italian count.
But the homecoming celebrations quickly take a ghastly turn when one of the guests is found brutally murdered in the chapel, and a member of Lady Julia's own family confesses to the crime. Certain of her cousin's innocence, Lady Julia resumes her unlikely and deliciously intriguing partnership with Nicholas Brisbane, setting out to unravel a tangle of deceit before the killer can strike again. When a sudden snowstorm blankets the abbey like a shroud, it falls to Lady Julia and Nicholas Brisbane to answer the shriek of murder most foul.
Despite the fact that there were consistent quibbles I had with this book, rolled over from the first book (Silent in the Grave), I found that Silent in the Sanctuary was quite enjoyable. Much like the first book, it is written well and easy to read; before I knew it, I was 200 pages in. And although it took about 25 pages more for the main conflict to start up, I’m surprised to find that I had actually enjoyed myself in spite of my complaints.
Julia is a very readily likable heroine with a subtle wit and the penchant to learn from her mistakes and improve upon herself. And it seems that she is finally, slowly but assuredly, growing her backbone--soon, I hope she won’t let herself be pushed around by that arrogant douche she is so obsessed with, but I suppose that might be too much to ask for.
Nonetheless, at least by the end of the book Brisbane has acknowledged her as an equal, even if I have some reserves he will act any differently than he’s been these past two books.
Really, the only thing about the Lady Julia Grey books that irritates me so far is Nicholas Brisbane and his attitude. The man just seems like he’s always angry or always trying to start a fight… or he’s got some stick shoved up his ass or something. His moments of being jokey are rare, and even then you’re not really sure if he’s really joking or just being his general assholic self.
The actual conflict took quite some time before getting started and I DID find myself asking aloud, “Where’s the murder mystery?” But despite the slowness of the story progression, the book itself didn’t really feel as if it dragged on too much at too many moments.
I enjoyed the setting of a snowbound house party wherein a murder has occurred. And I also found it intriguing that so many other mysteries were afoot. And when all the revelations come out in the last few chapters, I have to say that I was actually quite surprised by some of them. I knew there was something going on with certain characters, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what. I had an inkling suspicion about the murderer… but this time around, I have to admit that I was kind of stumped.
Some of the ending chapter revelations seemed a bit overly complicated though, and I found myself feeling overwhelmed by all the layers of secrets and reveals. It might just be me, but I felt like there might have been too much going on to absorb in the last few chapters alone.
Otherwise, there really isn’t much else to say about this book. I continue to like Julia and her interactions with her family and friends. I love that Julia is developing throughout the story in a good direction. I wish we could see more of Aquinas, Super Butler, as well as Grim, Talking Raven with an Attitude. The rest of the March family that we get to meet is quite fun, although Plum and Lysander did start to get on my nerves as the story progressed.
There's still an undertone of casual cultural and class stereotyping, and some subtle prejudice, which I assume I can take as just the behaviors and attitudes during this time period? I'm not sure I read enough historical fiction to know how to react to these things.
I suppose I could end off with this short paragraph excerpt from the book (page 132), of which I felt described Julia very well and says a lot about her character and her train of thoughts. It also shows off a short sample of the some of the beautifully descriptive writing by our lovely author Ms. Raybourn.
For what I did next, I can only blame my own unseemly reading habits. For years I wallowed in the unhealthy pursuits of Gothic heroines, tracing their footsteps as they wended their way through crumbling churchyards and decaying crypts. I walked with them into ghoulish dungeons hung with chains, and mouldering attics festooned with cobwebs. I thought them impossibly stupid, and yet when faced with the opportunity to chase a phantom of my own, I did not even stop to put on my slippers. I snatched a lace wrapper from the foot of my bed and hurried to the door, easing it open as silently as any practised burglar."