Murder at Northanger Abbey is the perfect sequel to Northanger Abbey with a well written story full of mystery, some gothic elements, and an impressionable Catherine Morland, well, Catherine Tilney now.
Before reading this book, I thought it was time to re-read Northanger Abbey and I’m very glad I did because reading one book after the other made me realise how wonderful Shannon Winslow’s writing is. The transition to this sequel is natural and written in such a tasteful and smooth manner that it felt I was reading Austen’s penned sequel to Northanger Abbey.
The story starts right after Catherine’s marriage to Henry Tilney, and we find the newlyweds living happily at Woodston Cottage until an invitation arrives from General Tilney. The General invites them to attend an All Hallow’s Eve Masquerade Ball at Northanger Abbey, and the couple decides to accept the invitation in an attempt to solve the breach that was caused due to the General’s treatment of Catherine.
At Northanger Abbey the Tilneys reunite with Elinor and her new husband, with Captain Tilney, and a few original characters, but this is a gothic mystery so we couldn’t just have a happy reunion could we? Everything seems quite normal, and even the General’s temper is as predicted, until a murder occurs at the Abbey. The magistrate is called, people are interrogated and someone is arrested to be taken to trial. This sequence of events will finally give Catherine Tilney the opportunity to live her very own gothic novel. She will remain at the Abbey investigating the murder, and she will not rest until she finds the culprit, the question is: will she let her imagination take over her senses once more? Has this character learned from past events? Will she mistrust her own judgement because of the events that took place at Northanger Abbey when she was single? Catherine is Catherine, and you’ll see the author was faithful to her personality.
What impressed me the most about this book was the similarity to Austen in terms of writing and character traits. All characters remain very true to themselves, and I could have easily believed that Jane Austen had written this story herself.
The book is also very well balanced in terms of pace which allows the reader to have an agreeable reading experience. At first we feel compelled to read the book because we feel too attached to these characters and we want to know more about their lives, and at a later stage we just want to know who was the murderer, so we may say this is a real page turner. Another fact that contributed to this effect was the addition of small cliffhangers at the end of each chapter, who can stop reading when the chapter ends with something shocking?
Murder at Northanger Abbey also brings a touch of innovation that I’m sure readers will appreciate. It does not have one ending, but two! Shannon Winslow decided to add an alternative ending as a bonus to her readers, so if you’re not quite satisfied with the first, you can read the second one and simply choose which one you love best. I personally prefer the first ending, and I would not miss the second if it was not there, but it’s undeniable that this is a great addition to the book and that many readers may prefer the second ending and the excitment to read a different outcome.
Summing up, Murder at Northanger Abbey is the type of book you will not want to miss. It is extremely well written, in a style very similar to Austen’s, and will provide readers who crave for more adventures of Catherine Morland an opportunity to finally see this heroine solving a true murder taken place at a gothic Abbey. It is full of mystery, a bit of humour and it even shows us a little romance between Catherine and her Henry. If you like Northanger Abbey, you will love this one for sure.
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