Roses & Thorns

Roses & Thorns

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

House of Silence by Sarah Barthel #Historical #Suspense #HxlPsychiatricAssylum

The Plot:

Oak Park, Illinois, 1875. Isabelle Larkin’s future—like that of every young woman—hinges upon her choice of husband. She delights her mother by becoming engaged to Gregory Gallagher, who is charismatic, politically ambitious, and publicly devoted. But Isabelle’s visions of a happy, profitable match come to a halt when she witnesses her fiancĂ© commit a horrific crime—and no one believes her.

Gregory denies all, and Isabelle’s mother insists she marry as planned rather than drag them into scandal. Fearing for her life, Isabelle can think of only one escape: she feigns a mental breakdown that renders her mute, and is brought to Bellevue sanitarium. There she finds a friend in fellow patient Mary Todd Lincoln, committed after her husband’s assassination.

In this unlikely refuge, the women become allies, even as Isabelle maintains a veneer of madness for her own protection. But sooner or later, she must reclaim her voice. And if she uses it to expose the truth, Isabelle risks far more than she could ever imagine.

Weaving together a thread of finely-tuned suspense with a fascinating setting and real-life figures, Sarah Barthel’s debut is historical fiction at its most evocative and compelling.

About the Author:

Sarah Barthel is an historical fiction author, specializing in untold stories in America’s past.


Having been born, raised, and spent most of my life in Illinois, I’m fascinated by Abraham Lincoln and his family, so I jumped on House of Silence when I saw it on Net Galley. However, I was mildly disappointed in the first chapter when Isabelle Larkin, the heroine, was proud of the way her dress “popped.” Dresses did not “pop” in 1875. That expression wasn’t coined until this century, or maybe the end of the last one. Such anomalies are the reason I shy away from historical fiction.

Fortunately, Ms. Barthel managed to stay in the era through the rest of the book without too many more glitches, and her dilemma pulled me in and kept me reading. Even before Gregory Gallagher commits the crime that causes Isabelle to seek refuge in an insane asylum (and considering the state of mental health treatment in 1875, you know she has to be desperate!), he’s controlling and abusive toward her—definitely not the kind of man I’d want my daughter to marry. But Isabelle’s mother is equally desperate to acquire the money and stature she thinks marriage to the up-and-coming politician will bring. How can Isabelle accuse him of such heinous behavior? He’s their savior from poverty—their ability to remain in society and even climb higher. But Isabelle knows he has a secret. One he’s willing to kill to keep buried. And she’s afraid he’ll kill her.

House of Silence held my attention, and I do recommend reading it.

Warnings:  Violence
Length: 300 Pages
Print:  $15.00
Digital:  $9.99

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