Book Review: Devil in the Corner by Patricia Elliott

20728920Title: Devil in the Corner

Author: Patricia Elliott

Genre: Gothic, Historical Fiction, Romance

Age Group: Young Adult

Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

A gorgeously gothic historical tale from the author of THE PIMPERNELLES

Penniless, and escaping the horrors of life as a governess to brutal households, Maud seeks refuge with the cousin-by-marriage she never knew. But Juliana quashes Maud’s emerging friendships with the staff and locals – especially John, the artist commissioned to restore the sinister Doom in the local church. John, however, is smitten with Maud and makes every effort to woo her.

Maud, isolated and thwarted at every turn, continues to take the laudanum which was her only solace in London. Soon she becomes dependent on the drug – so is this the cause of her fresh anxieties? Or is someone – or something – plotting her demise?

Is the devil in the corner of the Doom a reality, or a figment of her imagination?

Devil in the Corner has one major flaw: it’s painstakingly slow. I liked the story, plot and characters for the most part, but the narrative dragged on without end, like a nagging old lady who want stop talking.

Maud has been orphaned after her father’s death. She works as a governess, but has been sent from one household to the other, always followed by some sort of bad luck, or tormented by the ill will of her masters. When her niece, Juliana, sends her a letter and invites her over to her home in the counry, a sprawling mansion in a small town far away from Maud’s home, she takes the chance.

But when she arrives at Juliana’s house, she discovers her cousin is ill. How ill she is, and how much of it is faked or due to troubles in her mind, no one seems to know. Juliana relies on Maud as some sort of personal nurse, waking her up in the middle of the night to assist her or go to her aid. On the train to her new home, she meets John, an artist commissioned to restore the sinister portrait in the local church, called “Doom”.

The longer Maud spends at her new home, the more she feels unease. Someone is hiding a secret, and someone is out to hurt her. She goes back to depending heavily on laudanum, the only drug capable of making her rest a night. But as her fears grow worse, she wonders if what she’s seeing is induced by the laudanum, or if it may be the truth.

The story isn’t all that different from the gothic novels I’ve read so far. In fact, it’s strikingly similar. Now, all gothic novels seem to have common elements: the large, gorgeous and ancient mansion riddled with secrets, the recluse woman lying ill, or pretending to be ill. The struggling artist who falls for the damsell in distress. But whereas most gothic novels manage to add an original spin to the story, Devil in the Corner fails to do so.

The story is too familiar, the characters completely forgottable. Maud is boring and dull, and seems to have no real personality. John – what do we really know about him except he likes to paint, and gets obsessed with Maud? The secrets aren’t all that spectacular, the mystery is easy to solve, and there’s barely any suspense.

A mediocre read. If you absolutely love gothic novels, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t give this one a shot, but don’t expect too much from it.


  1. The premise sounds amazing, but I was disappointed to read how slow, boring and predictable this book was for you. I do love Gothic stories, but I still don’t think this one will be high on my list.

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