Set in mysterious and witchy woods, The Daughters of Foxcote Manor is the perfect read for mystery lovers who prefer thrills without gore and violence. Author Eve Chase embarks on a deep character study of two women, both of whom are entangled in the tragic events of one summer day in 1971.
Live-in nanny Rita is sent off to Foxcote Manor in the Forest of Dean to care for precocious Teddy and troubled teen Hera while their socialite mother, Jeannie, recovers after the stillbirth of a child. Awkward, shy and utterly devoted to her charges, Rita struggles to balance Jeannie’s depressive episodes with the family’s paranoid patriarch’s demands that Rita act as a spy. When Hera finds an infant abandoned in the forest and Jeannie wants to keep her, Rita is forced into even more lies.
All the while, the forest around them feels claustrophobic and menacing. From the strange arrival of the baby to moved objects to suddenly unlocked gates, Rita feels as if Foxcote Manor is being visited by some sort of supernatural presence.
As the culmination of family secrets comes to a boil in 1971, London makeup artist Sylvie is struggling in present day. Her mother is comatose after a fall, and her teenage daughter is harboring a secret. When Sylvie finds newspaper clippings in her mother’s house about an abandoned infant and a mysterious murder in the Forest of Dean nearly 50 years ago, Sylvie realizes she knows nothing about her family.
The Daughters of Foxcote Manor draws its intensity from the secrets of its main characters, and as the summer of 1971 draws to a close, Chase builds a frenetic momentum. The slightly gothic atmosphere of Foxcote Manor and the surrounding woods adds an element of fear to an already fraught environment. While all the violence happens off-page, the galloping pace and dangers faced by both Rita and Sylvie keep this mystery from ever feeling cozy.