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Gothic,  Horror

A Moonlit Path of Madness by Catherine McCarthy

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

A Moonlit Path of Madness by Catherine McCarthy
Published by Nosetouch Press on July 11, 2023
ISBN: 9781944286309
Genres: Fiction, Ghost, Occult & Supernatural, Gothic
Pages: 262
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
five stars - A Moonlit Path of Madness by Catherine McCarthy

Inheriting a family heirloom in the form of an antique clock with a broken moon dial as well as a seaside house in Wales, Grace Morgan mourns the loss of her mother and dreads the manifestation of a family curse that threatens to lay claim to her and everything she holds dear.

Set around the turn of the 20th century, A Moonlit Path of Madness traces Grace's journey from the United States to the distant parish of Newport on the West Wales coast. Partly epistolary and laced with Welsh folklore, this tragic gothic tale delves into the prevalent mental health challenges of the era in the face of unrelenting fear and all-consuming trauma, as Grace reckons with the insidious specter of her lingering grief.

A Moonlit Path to Madness builds and builds to an ending so satisfying that I couldn’t pick anything up for days. A story like a poignant poem, its elegance leaving you stunned.

Let’s be very clear from the offing – A Moonlit Path to Madness is a phenomenal book. McCarthy has captured everything I love about Gothic Horror. It’s quietly disconcerting and wholly compulsive. It’s a story that will not leave you, its imprint etched into he chambers of your heart, a permanent marking from a long-ago era.

Catherine McCarthy’s writing is both eloquent and devastating. She has a firm reputation within the horror community for being supportive of other indie authors but also for being a genuine force with the written word. A story captured within the Victorian era isn’t an easy task to get right but McCarthy nails it. The language, the dramatic nature of their actions and the macabre and me giggling with glee. I was transported back in time and the imagery was fantastical. It’s no secret that I love Wales and now that I know roughly where this was set, I just have to witness it for myself during our next escape.

Vermont. Where it all begins. Grace Morgan’s mother is dying. Her parent’s emigrated from Wales many years previously and settled in the States. Alongside the families help, Lilah, they try to make her passing as comfortable as possible but Grace is haunted by something she says – everywhere. What on earth does she mean? As is known about people in the Victorian era they do have a touch of the dramatic, so I don’t immediately read too much into the word but as the story evolves and takes shape I am gobsmacked at the weight of the words. Like an anchor thrown overboard, if you aren’t careful, it can pull you under to a watery grave.

Her brother Jonathan reads the will out to her detailing everything that was left to them. He was to receive the family home and her, their father’s much loved Welsh home, Parrog House. It’s a shock but she decides to start a new life with Lilah. It could be everything she ever dreamed of. A rare opportunity to escape her dead mother’s melancholy. She can’t wait for the walks in the countryside and a chance to find out more about her heritage.

The descriptions of the area, the weather and women’s plight during this time were exquisite. I imagined the lovely big windows, the range cooker and the aroma of the food cooked, I was in readers heaven. I knew that whatever came next, the immersive narrative style would keep me hooked for the entirety. I was right. The characters, Grace and Lilah have just as much emotion packed into them as the storyline – the balance was just right. I know you’ll want to know more but you’ll just have to preorder the book. Some things deserve not to be spoiled; you’ll want the full immersive experience too.

The whole storyline feels like a gradual drop into darkness. You feel unfooted but you aren’t quite sure why this is the pure skill that McCarthy possesses. A discovery here, a shadow there, until you realise that coincidences don’t exist – everything happens for a reason.


image 4 - A Moonlit Path of Madness by Catherine McCarthy

From her old Welsh farmhouse, Catherine McCarthy spins tales with macabre melodies. Her previously work includes the collection Mists and Megaliths and the novella Immortelle (Off Limits Press), as well as short fiction in various anthologies and magazines.

There is more to come from her in 2023: a Gothic novel, A Moonlit Path of Madness (Nosetouch Press), a novella, Mosaic (Dark Hart Books), and a YA novel, The Wolf and the Favour (Brigids Gate Press)

Catherine McCarthy

five stars - A Moonlit Path of Madness by Catherine McCarthy

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