Book Review: The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey

The Animals at Lockwood Manor…

About the Book:

Some secrets are unspoken. Others are unspeakable . . .

August 1939.

Thirty-year-old Hetty Cartwright is tasked with the evacuation and safekeeping of the natural history museum’s collection of mammals. Once she and her exhibits arrive at Lockwood Manor, however, where they are to stay for the duration of the war, Hetty soon realizes that she’s taken on more than she’d bargained for.

Protecting her charges from the irascible Lord Lockwood and resentful servants is work enough, but when some of the animals go missing, and worse, Hetty begins to suspect someone – or something – is stalking her through the darkened corridors of the house.

As the disasters mount, Hetty finds herself falling under the spell of Lucy, Lord Lockwood’s beautiful but clearly haunted daughter. But why is Lucy so traumatized? Does she know something she’s not telling? And is there any truth to local rumours of ghosts and curses?

Part love story, part mystery, The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey is a gripping and atmospheric tale of family madness, long-buried secrets and hidden desires.

My Thoughts:

Shades of Kate Morton and Kayte Nunn merge with themes akin to Rebecca within this moody and atmospheric historical mystery. Nothing is what it seems at Lockwood Manor. Is it haunted? Or is there something more sinister afoot?

One thing that I was sure of quite early on in the story was the vile nature of Lord Lockwood. With a predilection for very young women, gas lighting seemed to be his default setting. The way he treated Hetty from the get-go was appalling but that was nothing compared to the true depths of his depravity. Such a well-crafted villain!

Hetty was such a champion character, a woman working in a man’s role, only on account of the war. She was undervalued, disrespected, and over qualified, yet afflicted with so much self-doubt and social anxiety. Just as Lord Lockwood was well crafted in his villainy, Hetty really shone as a heroine. Lucy’s story was utterly tragic. The only child of a truly toxic coupling, the psychological damage that both of her parents inflicted upon her was devastating. There is a lot to unpack from Lucy’s story but to do so here would lead to unforgivable spoilers!

Moralistic themes along the lines of hunter versus scientist within the world of natural history are explored intimately. Hetty’s protectiveness for the animals ran deep and her reverence for the science of the specimens was profound. Natural history makes me uneasy, and as such, is a topic I like to continue reading about, challenging myself to dig in and learn more about it from every angle. The Animals at Lockwood Manor afforded me much opportunity to do this.

Precise and beautiful imagery is frequently conveyed throughout the narrative, making this novel a joy to read. With a surprising, yet plausible love story unfolding alongside the deepening mystery that lies within the house, all set against a backdrop of England at war, The Animals at Lockwood Manor is the type of novel that has wide appeal. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and highly recommend it to fans of historical fiction.


Thanks is extended to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing me with a copy of The Animals at Lockwood Manor for review.

About the Author:

Jane Healey studied English Literature at Warwick University. She has been shortlisted for the Bristol Short Story Prize 2013, the Costa Short Story Award 2014, the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2016 and the Penguin Random House WriteNow mentoring programme 2017. The Animals at Lockwood Manor is her first novel. She lives in Edinburgh.

The Animals at Lockwood Manor
Published by Mantle
Released 10th March 2020

15 thoughts on “Book Review: The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey

  1. I’m undecided on whether to request a review copy of this one. I already have soooo many books waiting to be read but this sounds right up my alley. I was waiting to hear your thoughts and now that I have, I think I would enjoy this too, but ohhhhh how can we ever ‘catch up’ if we keep requesting new titles. #firstworldproblemsofabookblogger 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds like a perfect isolation novel. I just bought it on my Kindle, although with that cover, the real thing would be divine. Looking forward to it, and loving that I have time to read.

    Liked by 1 person

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