A title which we’re sure will soon be on everyone’s lips is The Deception of Harriet Fleet, published in eBook by Hachette / Quercus this Halloween.

Helen Scarlett will leave you reeling, in this suspense-filled Victorian tale set against the dark and untameable backdrop of rural County Durham. At the time of the book’s deal, Publisher Jane Wood praised the way Helen’s strong narrative voice swept her back to the Brontës” and other unforgettable 19th Century works.

The novel follows bright governess Harriet, as she attempts to manage her unstable new charge, who is haunted by the paranormal and alienated from their small community. As time passes, Harriet is pushed deeper into the mystery of her host family’s disturbing past. Readers couldn’t wait to get hold of the title, after Quercus released its stunning teaser trailer last month:

1871. An age of discovery and progress. But for the Wainwright family, residents of the gloomy Teesbank Hall in County Durham the secrets of the past continue to overshadow their lives.

Harriet would not have taken the job of governess in such a remote place unless she wanted to hide from something or someone. Her charge is Eleanor, the daughter of the house, a fiercely bright eighteen-year-old, tortured by demons and feared by relations and staff alike. But it soon becomes apparent that Harriet is not there to teach Eleanor, but rather to monitor her erratic and dangerous behaviour – to spy on her.

Worn down by Eleanor’s unpredictable hostility, Harriet soon finds herself embroiled in Eleanor’s obsession – the Wainwright’s dark, tragic history. As family secrets are unearthed, Harriet’s own begin to haunt her and she becomes convinced that ghosts from the past are determined to reveal her shameful story.

For Harriet, like Eleanor, is plagued by deception and untruths.

Early fans are already taken with the novel’s evocative scenery and outstanding pace:

“A definite recommend for this one, this will be a great dark night, Halloween is coming, spooky read for anyone who likes a twisty page turner!” Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars 

“I really enjoyed this atmospheric work of historical fiction, which deftly blends familiar elements of Victorian gothic novels with a modern sensibility, to create an energetic page-turner! I loved the darkly evocative descriptions of the novel’s haunting north-eastern setting. ” Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars 

“I loved this book. It’s a gothic tale written from the perspective of the 21st century – the story is gripping, the setting is dark and spooky, and there is a sense of foreboding which intensifies as you read on.” Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars 

“The book is very atmospheric, with an underlying tension throughout – not one to read just before you go to sleep! I couldn’t put it down. Highly recommended.” Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars 

Helen has a BA (hons) degree from London University and, after a brief flirtation with the world of finance, has taught secondary English for over twenty years, most recently in a sixth form college. In that time, society has become much more open in talking about mental health issues and this formed the starting point for her novel. She lives and works in the North East of England, a region which holds endless fascination for her and whose influence can be felt throughout her writing.

It couldn’t be a more perfect time to indulge in this gothic delight – we recommend you prepare yourself in advance to be wonderfully spooked!