David Gelber

Belvoir Noir

The Secret Rooms: A True Gothic Mystery

By

Viking 466pp £20 order from our bookshop

A sepulchral castle, a despotic lord, a guiltless maiden and a spectral, troubled antihero – these were the ingredients of the gothic novel at the high midnight of its popularity. Catherine Bailey’s The Secret Rooms contains all of these elements. The castle is the Manners family stronghold of Belvoir, a vast, crenellated edifice mounted imperiously on a ridge overlooking the Leicestershire countryside. The lord is Henry Manners, eighth Duke of Rutland, a firm-jawed man of outward rectitude and cosmetic charm, yet at heart a philistine with a ‘ferocious temper’, who mortally hated ‘abroad’ and ‘soap in his bath’. The maiden is his youngest daughter, Diana, a celebrated society beauty with ‘love-in-the-mist eyes’ and hair as delicate as ‘ancient Chinese silk’, whom one admirer exalted as an ‘orchid among cowslips, a black tulip in a garden of cucumbers, nightshade in the nursery’.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'One of the reasons for its longevity is that it has virtually nothing to say about science and technology at all,… ,
    • 'The characters in many of these stories are trapped in the obsessive present tense of their own thoughts; in the m… ,
    • 'Libraries, for much of their existence, have embodied in microcosm many of the characteristics of the totalitarian… ,
    • 'Moss and Cynthia buy several properties through which to launder their ill-gotten gains, take lots of drugs, have… ,
    • 'Never mind the imperial cult. This is the cult of Boris. What happened to Rome?' From the LR archive:… ,
    • Thirty-two years ago this month, we published Muriel Spark's short story, 'A Playhouse Called Remarkable' Read it… ,
    • Time travel, bicycles and white horses populate @WomackPhilip's roundup of children's books by @marcussedgwick,… ,