Saturday, January 30

Book Review: Armadale

Title: Armadale

Author: Wilkie Collins

Pages: 558

Summary: When the elderly Allan Armadale makes a terrible confession on his death-bed, he has little idea of the repercussions to come, for the secret he reveals involves the mysterious Lydia Gwilt: flame-haired temptress, bigamist, laudanum addict and husband-poisoner. Her malicious intrigues fuel the plot of this gripping melodrama: a tale of confused identities, inherited curses, romantic rivalries, espionage, money - and murder. The character of Lydia Gwilt horrified contemporary critics, with one reviewer describing her as 'One of the most hardened female villains whose devices and desires have ever blackened fiction'. She remains among the most enigmatic and fascinating women in nineteenth-century literature and the dark heart of this most sensational of Victorian 'sensation novels'.

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Although it had a bit of a slow start, Armadale was a thrilling read, which was hard to put down once you got into it. Containing a great cast of characters, including the evil Lydia Gwilt, one of the most intriguing but evil villainesses in literature, yet despite her evilness, you couldn’t help but anxiously await until the next time she appeared on the pages. Readers will definitely have a love/hate relationship with her, as they read about her evil plots and actions. The entire story has some very interesting characters, all of which hold secrets from each other and only the reader really knows the whole truth. Which made the book that much more interesting, the reader knew the evilness of Lydia, or a particular secret of one of the other characters, but the characters themselves were usually in the dark, so reading and waiting for it to be all to be discovered was part of the fun!

I also enjoyed the general gothic Victorian setting of the story, including the haunting dream that was a theme throughout the entire story. It added a nice touch to the story, and gave some good foreshadowing as to what would come. Collins’ was excellent at setting up the story, building up to the big reveals and creating complex characters with multiple layers. It had that old English writing I love so much. It’s hard to be bored with a novel that has such lovely writing. Not to mention, Collin’s has a great ability to build up suspense in a way that made you want to read on, in order to find out what would happen next, no matter how subtle the lead up may have been.

One complaint was that with one of the characters became very irritating, very quickly, (Neelie Milroy), she was just a bit selfish, whiney and overall not at all likeable. I was kind of hoping she’d meet the wrath of Lydia so the reader wouldn’t have to put up with her anymore. Also at times, parts of the story were a little to drawn out, even if it was meant to build up suspense there were times, you were just wanting the story to progress a little faster.

Overall another fantastic gothic Victorian read.

Would I recommend it to read: Yes, especially if you like gothic, victorian stories, mysteries and are a fan of books that focus a lot on the characters. It's a long book, but worth it. (Even if my edition had the smallest font size possible, I still couldn't put it down at times, no matte how much my eyes hurt). So I would recommend it to others to read.

What to read next: The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, Lady Audley's Secret Mary Elizabeth Braddon (haven't read the second one, but it was a LT suggestion, and since reading the description, have added it to my TBR)

Challenges: Read 'n' Review Challenge, Pages Read, 10/10 Category Challenge,
52 in 52 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, A - Z Challenge, Decades Challenge, NaJuReMoNoMo,
Support Your Library Challenge, Typically British Challenge, Mini Challenge: Wilkie Collins


  1. I just found your blog and I love it!

  2. Sounds like another good Collins! I'll be reading The Moonstone next but after that I'll probably go for this one.

  3. This is actually my favorite Collins novel so far (I think I've read four or five and a couple of novellas). Once it gets going, you almost forget to breathe during some scenes! I love that you wanted Lydia to do MORE evil. ;)

    Lady Audley's Secret is also fantastic!

  4. I have heard such great things about this book, mainly because of the awful but wonderful Lydia Gwilt. Thanks for this review! It's being moved up the list for sooner rather than later.

  5. Muse the Fog - Thanks for stopping by, hope to see you around some more :)

    Amanda - The only other book I've read is the moonstone. Although I have Women in White sitting on the shelves, any suggestions for others?

    Kristen M - Yes, as much as I wanted her to get her just deserts, I wasn't read for her to stop the evilness just quite as soon. I'm hoping to read Lady Audley's Secret sooner than later, bumping it up on the ol' TBR list.

    Rebecca - Glad you liked it, and happy to help move it up on the list.

  6. Yay! I am so glad to hear that this one is good, since I have it on my shelf to read! I am so glad you liked it and gave it such a great review. I will be looking forward to it!