Book Review: Greywycke by Roger Davis

I am the type of person who prefers to see the best in everything, including my reading material. I can’t even remember the last time I read something I couldn’t find a single redeeming quality in – until I read Greywycke.

The plot itself is compelling – an aristocratic young woman in Regency England is at the height of her social season, waiting for a marriage proposal from the man she is madly in love with. She is getting ready for a long weekend of parties, fairs, and balls at the estate of her godfather, Greywycke Castle. Soon after her arrival, strange and disturbing occurrences begin to happen, putting her and those she cares about in explicit danger. She will have to rely on her wits, strength, and courage to avert certain disaster.

Except. Lady Kaline is utterly devoid of wits, strength or courage. From every stilted description, she is an empty headed, dull, spineless snob. It says so in the book! In fact, she is encouraged to be insipid. After mentioning that she was never very good in school, her godfather says, “Your brilliance is of another nature. Perfect for a lady of your character and station.” Seriously?

Character, station, duty, aristocracy are continually harped on until you begin to feel that the French Revolution and the guillotine were actually good ideas. There is not a single likable person in the entire book, but then again, I’ve had paper dolls with greater depth than these people. Kaline’s best friend, Nevelyn, is the very epitome of the cliche “with friends like these who needs enemies” and her love interest, Edward, is such a stereotypical rake that you don’t even need neon signage to see where those plot points are heading.

The description is tiresome and repetitive. Mr. Davis is noted as being a student of history, and it is clear he is determined to be exacting in his historical detail, but he strays into overkill territory. Readers don’t need a graphic description of every item, every rug, every ormolu clock in every room. Things happen for no reason, such as a highwayman attack on the trip to Greywycke – which leads me to this irksome point – Kaline has been going to Greywycke for decades and never had been attacked by highwaymen, heard anything eerie there, never seen a ghost, never seen the abandoned keep just walking distance from the castle before. This book had me tearing at my hair so often it’s surprising I’m not bald.

There is precisely one saving grace to this novel. It’s short.

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