Veronica has returned from an trip with Lady Cordelia and things between her and Stoker are estranged. Lord Templeton-Vane appears to seize on the strain in their relationship and invites Veronica to accompany him to his friend’s castle to collect a butterfly that the world thinks is extinct. Stoker sneaks along and joins them as their hosts requests help in solving the murder of his wife on their wedding night three years ago. Secrets long thought hidden, or possibly ignored, come to light at the most unexpected times. Sending everyone in the castle guessing at who the murderer is and if a ghost really does haunt the castle.
After having recovered from her expedition with Lady Cordelia, Veronica is back home and the relationship between Veronica and Stoker is not the same as it had been in previous books. Their friendship appears even more strained when Stoker’s brother lures her aware for 2 weeks to a remote castle. Veronica is half forced to act as Lord Templeton Vane’s fiance, but that story is quickly questioned by several females who see how Veronica and Stoker interact with each other. After the ghost of Rosamund visits the guests of the castle, the truth starts to be uncovered and Stoker risks his life to save Veronica. Forced to face secrets, Veronica and Stoker come to a new understanding of their relationship, before being summoned back to London for the Whitechapel murders.
The mystery at the castle and the banter between Veronica and Stoker are what keeps the reader turning the pages and hard to put the book down. The characters are evolving and this reader might break with waiting until book 5 comes out in paperback and just buy the Hardcover to reduce the time between visiting this Victorian England and chasing Veronica and Stoker on another adventure.
Character List/Book Summary:
Veronica Speedwell = 26 years old, collects butterflies, taken to collecting the living ones of late (instead of killing them), suspects Tiberius and Malcolm are hiding their agendas regarding her and the reason for the gathering, explores the island and the castle while trying to understand what happened 3 years ago. Realizes that she has feelings for Stoker, but that she is determined not to marry, and tries to fight her feelings for most of the book.
Stoker Templeton Vane = Veronica’s partner in crime, companion in most adventures, and friend. Teases Veronica since she insists upon just being friends and nothing more. Did not write Veronica while she was away with Lady Cordelia, cool towards Veronica when she returns, agrees friendship is best between the two of them. When faced with risking Veronica’s life he admits his true feelings for her risks his life to try and save her. Mends her mouse when it almost drowns.
Lord Tiberius Templeton Vane = wants to seduce Veronica, realizes that she will never let that happen because of her feelings for Stoker. Asks Veronica to pretend to be his fiance while visiting his friend Malcolm who is a devote Catholic. Was deeply in love with Rosamund, and had a secret relationship with her. Takes charge when infighting starts to create conflict among the guests and Malcolm is missing.
Malcolm Romilly = his island is the only place Romilly Glasswings live, Roman Catholic, was expelled for choking a boy at school, cared for his younger sister and brother. Has isolated himself since his wife disappeared on their wedding night 3 years ago.
Rosamund = Malcolm’s bride who disappeared on their wedding night, 3 years ago. Nance claims she haunts the castle, was a governess who had her sights set on the castle.
Lady Cordelia = Veronica’s expedition partner at the start of the book.
Lord Rosemorran = Cordelia’s brother, has Veronica and Stoker living on his land to help create a museum of all his family’s collections gathered from around the world.
Lady Wellington Beauclerk = Lord Rosemorran’s great Aunt, knows Veronica’s secret, keeps in correspondence with Veronica and requests her return to deal with the Whitechaple murders.
Sir Hugo = Head of the Special Branch, knows secrets of the royal family and keeps them out of the light of day, dealing with the Whitechapel Murders.
Helen = around 35 years old, Lucian’s widow, Malcolm’s sister-in-law, speaks to the spirits, knows Veronica is not engaged to Tiberious and she has feelings for Stoker, is scared by Rosamund’s visit
Mertensia = Malcolm’s sister, enjoys gardening, has a poison garden, has a crush on Stoker, schoolmates with Rosamund, realized Rosamund did not love her brother she was after Malcolm’s castle and stability.
Trenny = maid of the Romilly castle, started as a nursemaid and moved her way up in to managing the Castle. Does not want people searching for Rosamund, as she feels it is not good for Malcolm to relive it.
Daisy = assigned to be Veronica’s maid at the castle, admits to selling information to Nance about the guests to help Nance seem more realistic as a seer.
Caspian Romilly = Helen and Lucian’s son, about 18 years old, wants to be an actor, his mother dotes on him. Attempts to be the heir to the castle and the land.
Old Mother Nance = runs the Country Inn, claims to be a witch and can see things. Warns Veronica to be careful of the sister. Sells Helen a protection charm after Rosamund’s visit.
Peter = Nance’s grandson, she sees him going far in this world. Stoker appreciates his entrepreneurial nature and helps him along.
Mrs. Polglase = 50 years old, Mertensia tends to her, wanted to meet Veronica (and calls her Rosamund) and Stoker, has dementia, her chickens have the best poop on the island. Claims Rosamund was reading to her.