Book Review – Helena by Claire L. Smith

“I only talk with the dead, and they’re the best at keeping secrets.”

I love period stories, especially with horror leanings, so it’s no surprise that this one about Helena Morrigan, a mortician struggling to pay her bills in the 1800s, peaked my interest. In addition to her financial woes, Helena also struggles with ghosts – yes, you heard that right! Although this one is pretty solidly horror, it’s also got a definite bit of mystery to it in the overall story, which I really enjoyed. Blends of different genres in books usually hit home runs for me, and the moody gothic tinge to this one was such a treat for the late fall chill in the air when I finished it.

The cast of supporting characters in this were all crucial to the murder mystery aspect, and I loved the story has so many layers packed into its 141 page count. The ghostly horrors and descriptions of what Helena sees were some of my favorite parts – I’d honestly read a whole series about her and the different things she gets involved with and sees, to be honest. The idea of being able to see dead things in various states of decay always freaks me out a little bit, which obviously makes it one of my favorite things to read!

Smith’s writing is lyrical and evocative, immersing the reader in the dark atmosphere of Helena’s world. Lush language and beautiful descriptions with a heavy reliance on similes made up the meat of the writing, making this a really luxurious and almost poetic reading experience – perfect for the Gothic vibes of the story. I found Smith’s written voice both compelling and enchanting, and I’m really looking forward to reading more of her work in the future – which is convenient, since she’s announced a new book coming out this year!

Thank you to the publisher for sending a copy of this over for review consideration!

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