The Premise: After the events of the first book and a trip overseas, Lady Julia and her brothers are called back to the family home for Christmas. Julia's father, Lord March, has a few family and assorted guests over at the March home, Belmont Abbey. Amid the usual family drama, odd occurrences start to happen and (of course, this is a murder mystery series after all), things culminate in a murder.
My Thoughts: I read this over my Holiday vacation, and it's a book that goes with that season. It's got snow, and family coming together, and holiday traditions. It is a good book to read curled up in a chair during winter and read for hours. The book is not a short one, but with so much going on, it entertains quite well.
Compared to the first book, Silent in the Sanctuary had more story threads and twists. Which is not entirely surprising because there are a lot more characters, and they're all staying in the same house, which makes things ripe for conflict and mystery. Along with Julia and her immediate family (Julia's sister Portia, her father, her two brothers Plum and Lysander, and Lysander's wife Violante), there are several guests - Alessandro, Madame Hortense de Bellefleur, Lucian Snow (the local curate), Julia's two cousins Lucy and Emma, Lucy's fiance Sir Cedric and his clerk Henry Ludlow, Julia's aunt Dorcas, Nicolas Brisbane, and Charlotte King. It's a long list, and I may be forgetting someone!
The story is like a game of Clue, full of possible suspects in one house, and plenty of hints at odd things afoot. There were missing items and people, and sneaking about in the middle of the night. In the end we don't have just one mystery to solve, and there are a few surprising twists I never saw coming. I think I was more surprised at the twists in this one than the first.
And then there is the romance between Julia and Nicolas. Brisbane. His presence is a surprise for Julia, thanks to her meddling father. At the end of Silent in the Grave, she thought that they had romantic possibilities, but he never writes her while she is away. Julia is even more annoyed to find out that he got engaged in the meantime. Delicious I say! It's a little different now that Julia has gotten used to being an independent widow. Julia is a lot more assertive, in a very March family way. She holds her own in solving the mysteries and even discovers some things Brisbane has missed. It also means she doesn't worry as much about societal rules, and if she thinks Brisbane is in the wrong, she lets him know it. It's an engrossing dance between Julia and Brisbane, but but both parties have their baggage, and this affects how they see the other person. I had the feeling this was especially true of Brisbane. Julia was so different from when we first met her that it sometimes surprised me. I think I may have read this second book so close to the first that wisps of the Old Julia stayed in my brain so there was a clash with the new one, but that was a minor issue that I think only I had.
Overall: Loved the first one and the second one is again a strong book - I think I liked the twists in the mystery in this one more than the first book, but I'm undecided on which book I liked more for the romance. I really need to read book 3, Silent on the Moor! This series is shaping up to be one of my favorites, and if you are even considering reading these books, I strongly urge you to try them.
Mom's verdict: She liked this one too. I think it took her longer to read than Silent in the Grave, but she agreed that the mystery had multiple surprises. She wants me to get book 3 so she can borrow it.
Buy: Amazon | Powells
Historical Tapestry - 4.5 out of 5
Angieville - "I went in with the highest of expectations and Silent in the Sanctuary more than lived up to them"
Dear Author - B+
Tempting Persephone - also positive
Originally posted on janicu.vox.com