In The Curiosity Keeper, Camille Iverness lives with her father James in a London curiosity shop, filled with unusual items. Camille becomes frightened when James angers some customers by disappearing for days, and customers tell Camille he has been cheating them.
Meanwhile, Jonathan is the village apothecary, caring for his sister since the passing of their mother. His father lost the family heirloom, the Bevoy — a ruby rumored to bless or curse its possessor. When Jonathan tries to locate the Bevoy to restore the family fortune, he traces it to the curiosity shop and its owner, just as Camille and the shop are being attacked. Jonathan rescues Camille and helps her get away.
Ladd writes descriptive narrative with hints of mystery and suspense woven into the plot. The book starts out slowly – as does the relationship between Camille and Jonathan. The historical details enrich the plot but the novel has a gothic feel to it. Her book is plot-driven with plenty of twists as Jonathan and Camille attempt to find the Bevoy. Who is behind the attack? Is it the curse of the ruby or something more sinister? Does Jonathan really care for her or is she a means to finding the ruby?
Recommended for adult collections in public libraries. The new series will appeal to fans of Regency fiction, Julie Klassen, and Jane Austen. Each book includes discussion questions for reading groups. The second book, Dawn at Emberwilde, will be available in May 2016.
Carol R. Gehringer
—reprinted with permission, Christian Library Journal, 2016.