Sunday, March 2, 2014

Review: The Splendour Falls

The Splendour Falls has been on my TBR list since before it was released.  I am a huge fan of Susanna Kearsley, my favorites being two of her more recent novels, The Winter Sea and The Shadowy Horses.  I was quite looking forward to this book.

Synopsis from Barnes and Noble:
An Ancient Castle, a Tragic Love, and a Web of Secrets Begins to Unravel...
Emily Braden has stopped believing in fairy tales and happy endings. When her fascinating but unreliable cousin Harry invites her on a holiday to explore the legendary own of Chinon, and promptly disappears—well, that's Harry for you.
As Emily makes the acquaintance of Chinon and its people, she begins to uncover dark secrets beneath the charm. Legend has it that during a thirteenth-century siege of the castle that looms over the city, Queen Isabelle, child bride of King John, hid a "treasure of great price." And in the last days of the German occupation during World War II, another Isabelle living in Chinon, a girl whose love for an enemy soldier went tragically awry.
As the dangers of the past become disastrously real, Emily is drawn ever more deeply into a labyrinth of mystery as twisted as the streets and tunnels of the ancient town itself.
My review:
When Emily arrives in Chinon, she immediately makes friends and begins exploring the beautiful setting.  Paul and Simon are delightful characters, brothers who quickly pull Emily into their fold. Both lured by the fascination of the history of the area and the possibility of hidden treasure.  As Emily begins to notice that things aren't quite right, Paul is eager to help and becomes her trusted sidekick.  These were my two favorite characters in the story. They became like family. The other characters were interesting, but just not as engaging.  I'm not sure if there were just too many characters or if each one just wasn't developed enough, but these were the two that really stood out to me as I was reading. 
The plot had so much potential but I found that it was missing something.  All of Kearsley's books have been completely engaging to me but I found myself skimming through parts of this one.  There seemed to be a level of detail that just wasn't there.  I wanted to be completely pulled into the story and I just wasn't.  The connection just wasn't there. There were two potential romances but neither really developed.  The story included a bit of mystery but it didn't feel mysterious to me, if that makes sense.  I just felt that the story could have been so much more than it was so I must admit, I was a bit disappointed in this one.  It wasn't bad, don't get me wrong, but when comparing it to her other books, it just isn't at the same level.
That doesn't mean you shouldn't pick it up, but my recommendation is this... If you want to try a Susanna Kearsley book, grab The Winter Sea, Shadowy Horses, or The Rose Garden.  These books represent the author at her best and are all fantastic reads.


  1. Thank you for such an honest review. I have been wondering which Kearsley novel I was going to pick up next, and I think I will go for The Rose Garden, which was on my radar a bit longer than this one. I'm sure I will pick it up eventually, but I am looking for something I will feel that connection with.

  2. I read The Firebird, and that was the only book I've read by Kearsley. I'm not a huge fan of historical fiction so I might not pick up any of her other books, but if I did, I would definitely read the Winter Sea.

  3. I started The Splendour Falls, but did not complete it. I loved The Firebird by Kearsley.