Monday, February 20, 2023

REVIEW: Secrets of the Greek Revival (book) by Eva Pohler

Secrets of the Greek Revival is a cozy mystery. I bought my copy of this brand new.

This review contains spoilers.


Content warnings for parental death and mentions of sexual abuse.

This stars three friends who I suppose you could say are going through a bit of a mid-life crisis. All of them have something going on at home that's dragging down their mood. Ellen feels like she and her husband are gradually growing more and more distant from each other, and she isn't sure what to do about it. Tanya's mother has dementia and can't remember who she is most days. Meanwhile, Sue lets her own mother badger her.

To get their minds off things, they're debating buying and renovating an old Greek Revival house near one of San Antonio's historic districts. The house may be haunted, which the three friends have varied feelings about. Ellen doesn't believe in ghosts, but after some research she learns that this house does have a lot of history - it used to house several female psychiatric patients. The more Ellen learns about how they were treated, the more determined she is to get the house and turn it into something that can shine a light on their lives. While Ellen, Tanya, and Sue try to renovate the house and uncover its mysteries, they must simultaneously deal with someone or something who wants them off the property. 

This is one of those rare cozy mysteries that isn't about a murder. Although a lot of it's focused on the house's history, that isn't entirely disconnected from the fate of living, breathing people in the present, as Ellen and her friends gradually discover.  

Overall, I thought this was a decent read, although I felt about a decade too young for it. Or maybe the issue was that I'm neither married nor a mother - I could sympathize with Ellen's feelings of invisibility and distance from her husband now that their son had moved out, but I didn't relate to that as much as I did, say, to all three characters' issues with their parents.

The story did have some confusing aspects, though. The ending came across as largely positive/happy, which didn't really gel with what we'd learned about one of the characters. This is kind of a spoiler but I don't know how else to say it: pregnancy and marriage don't magically cure the lasting effects of childhood sexual abuse. I really wish there had been mention of her receiving treatment of some sort.

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