The Last Heir to the Blackwood Library: A Novel, by Hester Fox — A Review

From the desk of Eleanor Clark:

In post-World War I England, a young woman inherits a mysterious house with an even more mysterious library.


With the stroke of a pen, twenty-three-year-old Ivy Radcliffe becomes Lady Hayworth, owner of a sprawling estate on the Yorkshire moors. Ivy has never heard of Blackwood Abbey, or of the ancient bloodline from which she’s descended. With nothing to keep her in London since losing her brother in the Great War, she warily makes her way to her new home. The abbey is foreboding, the servants reserved and suspicious. But there is a treasure waiting behind locked doors: a magnificent library. Despite cryptic warnings from the staff, Ivy feels irresistibly drawn to its dusty shelves, where familiar works mingle with strange, esoteric texts. And she senses something else in the library too, a presence that seems to have a will of its own.  Rumors swirl in the village about the abbey’s previous owners, about ghosts and curses, and an enigmatic manuscript at the center of it all. And as events grow more sinister, it will be up to Ivy to uncover the library’s mysteries in order to reclaim her own story—before it vanishes forever.


Brilliant Characters & Setting

Fox used both characters and setting to excellent effect. The story unfolds so beautifully and so eerily, that I just couldn’t put the book down. Each chapter flowed into the other, with Ivy almost floundering in moments, in others remaining strong and stalwart. The atmosphere of the novel is just perfect. This would make an excellent film, with so much room for swirling mists, and chilling winds.

A Vibrant Tapestry

Her mind desperately fought to gain purchase on the memory, like waking from a beautiful dream with only the faintest notion of what it had been about. But no details crystallized, only a deep, unnervingly familiar ache of longing that settled in her chest.”

One of the things I absolutely loved about this book is how Hester Fox played with memory—memory decay, and memory loss. There were just so many layers of description and whispers of things long past. It just unraveled and combined like a tapestry with threads missing, but still vibrant. It was just so well done!

Horror, Mystery, & Secrets

There is also an element of horror to the book. Some of those moments are just truly frightening. I’m not generally someone who enjoys horror, but Hester Fox does such a great job at setting the scene that it worked very well for me. And the way the library works into the horror, and mystery, and secrets is beautifully done. It was exceptionally executed.

A Brilliant Gothic Gem

This was a superbly lovely read. I devoured this brilliant, spooky, Gothic gem, with its beautiful prose, and heart-aching and emotionally intense story. As always, I look forward to reading more from Hester Fox.

5 out of 5 stars


❤️ Beautiful prose & haunting settings

❤️ Old and mysterious libraries

❤️ A touch of romance along with the Gothic suspense

❤️ A bit of Gothic horror


Eleanor Clark is a professional language teacher who has lived and taught on four continents. While she does have a classics related degree, she really does read across most genres. Her interests include reading, baking, cooking, gardening, and generally embracing a Hobbit-esque lifestyle. You can find her Bookstagram account @eleanorreadseverything


  • The Last Heir of Blackwood Library: A Novel, by Hester Fox
  • Graydon House (April 4, 2023)
  • Hardcover, eBook, & audiobook (336) pages
  • ISBN: 978-1525804786
  • Genre: Historical Suspense, Gothic Fiction


We received a review copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Cover image courtesy of Graydon House © 2023; text reviewer’s Eleanor Clark © 2023,, an Amazon affiliate

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