Secrets of Sloane House by Shelley Gray is a historical Christian thriller set in 1893 against the backdrop of the World Fair in Chicago. It is very much an ‘upstairs downstairs’ novel as the servants interact with the masters and mistresses of the house.
Rosalind chooses to come to work at Sloane House, after her sister Miranda disappeared whilst working there as a maid. Rosalind comes up against brick walls when enquiring about Miranda. As time progresses, she realises that danger lurks all around.
Reid Armstrong, a young man, and his family have risen up through the ranks, but never forgotten their roots. He is kind to people from all walks of life. His behaviour contrasts with that of the Sloanes who are most concerned with money, rank and appearances. The class divide and struggle is portrayed within the novel, and is a social comment on the times.
Rosalind is shown to be a very wise and astute young woman. She is also a Christian. At times she feels very alone but realises that she will never ever be truly alone, for God is always with her.
The Armstrong family are also Christians who are shown to be loving and caring, and who live out their Christian life. They reach out to others because that is what Jesus would do.
The novel has a dark side as it tackles the difficult theme of violence towards women. It is sensitively done by Shelley Gray. There are no graphic scenes, but she raises an awareness in the reader and exposes the injustices of life for women in the 1890’s.
The characters are all well drawn and realistic. They bring out varying emotions within the reader. The warmth radiating from the members of the Armstrong household contrasts with the icy reception at the Sloanes.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Secrets of Sloane House. It had me on the edge of my seat, attempting to guess the outcome. As the novel progressed, it’s intensity grew. There were times when I gasped out loud! This is the first book in the Chicago World’s Fair Mystery series, and I cannot wait to get my hands on the second and third books – both of which are ordered and I am eagerly awaiting the delivery by the postman! I recommend you buying them all at once because once you have finished the first book, you are going to want to pick up book two straight away.