Saturday, July 18, 2009

Review: Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn

Silent on the Moor is the third book in Deanna Raybourn's Lasy Julia Grey Mystery series and a nice addition, even if it wasn't as good as I'd hoped it would be. But before I touch on that, let me take you through my enjoyment of this series, beginning with book one, Silent in the Grave. This book is a very remarkable one for me in that it is the first book that I read with a first person perspective that didn't either bore me or make me cringe. I credit not only Ms. Raybourn's way with words and ability to build a scene then end it on a note that made me rush to turn the next page, but also on the character Julia Grey whose witty self-deprecating humor had me laughing out loud and glued to the pages.

My love for the series only grew with Silent in the Sanctuary. Here Julia's relationship with the mysterious and enigmatic Nicolas Brisbane heated up and the mystery, like the one before it, kept me guessing up to the reveal. With this book, The Lady Julia Grey Mysteries became my favorite mystery series to date. That said, I went into reading Silent on the Moor with high expectations and though by the end I wasn't disappointed, it did take me a while to get into the story.

In this installment, Julia and her sister, Portia, ignore Brisbane's letter that warns Portia against coming to Yorkshire as previously planned to help him get his newly acquired estate in order. Julia is convinced that even though Brisbane claims to no longer need the help he once asked of Portia, his strong warning only proves that he is in dyer need of assistance. Julia convinces Portia that they should still go and they continue on with their plans to meet Brisbane in Yorkshire, leaving at once. What they arrive to is nothing like Julia had expected. Brisbane's estate, Grimsgrave Hall, is crumbling and still inhabited by the previous owners, the Allenby's.

Julia finds that Brisbane is not happy to see her, but he's not surprised either. As usual, he avoids and maddens her at every turn. In the face of Brisbane's shunning, Julia settles into Grimsgrave Hall, making friends with a local Gypsy woman and trying to make sense of the prideful and impoverished Allenby women. As Julia learns more about Lady Allenby and her two daughters, Ailith and Hilda, she sympathises with their plight and makes it her mission to help them make some type of fortune out of Lady Allenby's son, the late Redwall Allenby's, Egyptian artifacts. She sets her mind to this and in true Julia Grey fashion, stumbles upon a twisted, deep-rooted mystery in the process.

As I mentioned earlier, I had a hard time getting into Silent on the Moor. I blame this on the mystery, which didn't hit stride until halfway through the book. I hate to be a Negative Nelly, especially since I adore this series, but the major thread in this book, the mystery, ended up being a bit of a dud. The suspense that I'd become accustomed to in reading this series was lacking. It took more than half the book for the actual mystery to truly come into play, and by that time I'd already figured it out--a major sore spot for me when reading a mystery.

The first half of the story is spent catching up with the characters, meeting new characters, and setting up for the mystery to come. The same could be said for Silent in the Sanctuary, the difference for me being that I was less interested in this cast of supporting characters than I was with those in Sanctuary. My disinterest kept the fist fourteen or so chapters from being the page turner the two earlier installments had been.

The high point in this mystery ended up being the relationship development between Julia and Brisbane. A little ironic, huh? Here is where the totally unexpected happened and I ended up being shocked. The events between Juila and Brisbane leading up to the Silent on the Moor finale really set the stage for what came and I was pleasantly surprised. The note that the story ended on was one that left the series open for future books while successfully tying up the overarching romantic plot that began in book one.

Had the actual mystery been as surprising as the romance, I'm sure I would have loved Silent on the Moor. Unfortunately, for me it wasn't. That said, I'm still as big a fan of this series as I've always been. Julia Grey is a great heroine and she has really come into her own over the past three books. I'm very much looking forward to book four in this series and I'm anxious to see where it will take Julia and Brisbane next. Grade B-


Visit Deanna Raybourne here. Read an excerpt for Silent on the Moor here.

7 comments:

  1. Hi Brie!

    You know I've been following this series through your reviews. It sounds as if it's still holding up for you. I might start at the beginning with this one, finally! Great review, as always. :)

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  2. Great review, Brie :D

    Hmmm, I have to say, even after all your praises, I'm just not convinced about a mystery set in regency times ^_^; But I'm glad that you're enjoying the book... Going in with high expectations is a killer most of the time :( At the same time, it's hard, especially when you're anticipating a book from a favorite series or author...

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  3. I totally skimmed the review because I still haven't read this. It's sitting, waiting patiently on my TBR pile. But good to hear you still a fan of the series despite the B- for this one.

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  4. Hils, I do think you would like this series. If you decide to give it a try I can't wait to read what you think of it.

    Hi Nath! Before I read this series I was skeptical of a mystery set in Regency times with the main character being a woman. Back then women had little freedom to go off on their own. But so far it has worked very well.

    I agree, it is hard not to have high expectations when it comes to an author and series that you love.

    Leslie, I really hope you enjoy it. I've seen varying reviews, most of them way more positive than mine. I'm crossing my fingers that you don't have the same problems with the story that I did.

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  5. I hate when a mystery ruins a great romance read, or vice versa.

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  6. This is actually not set in Regency times; it is set in the Victorian era, the time of Queen Victoria's reign.

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  7. Hi Tracy, yes that is always a downer.

    Anonymous, you are absolutely right! Not sure how I let that slip my mind. Thanks for correcting it. :)

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